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Know Your Cat, Know Your Cat's Genes

Ever wondered whether your deranged street cat might be a secret prince of Persia? Well now you can finally get some serious, genomic answers.

According to Mother Nature Network, the University of California, Davis' feline genetics lab, led by Leslie Lyons, currently offers a $120 test that can identify your cat's geographic and breed background by comparing its genes to known variant patterns linked to either place or breed.

If owners can manage to swab the inside of their cat's cheek and send it in, the lab then isolates kitty's DNA from the sample and tests for approximately 170 markers, matching the pattern of variants in to one of eight geographic regions: Western Europe, Egypt, east Mediterranean, Iran/Iraq, Arabian Sea, India, South Asia, and East Asia.

After matching to an ancestral homeland, the lab then tries to link a cat's variant profile to one or more of 29 "fancy cat breeds."

According to MNN, if your cat is a true mix, you may be out of luck though in identifying a breed makeup. Unlike mixed breed dogs, which are usually descendants of crosses of distinct breeds, most mixed cats descend from populations of so-called "random bred cats."

If kitty has a great-grandpa Maine Coon or Scottish Fold, however, the test should be able to pick it up.

If you do get a match, the UC Davis lab currently estimates that the test's breed probability matches are over 90 percent accurate.

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