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Cat genetics and the cat genome

by Eva Amsen

what does the cat genome tell us about this young cat?According to a study lead by Dr. Johnson from the Cat Genome Project, the ancient ancestor of all 37 cat species originated in Asia and migrated across the globe, developing into the big and small cats we know today, from lions to domestic cats.

Several years ago I saw something on a TV program about the genetics of local domestic cat populations. The cats in New York City were found to be genetically closest to the cats in Amsterdam, rather than cats in nearby American cities, because the first domestic cats in Manhattan came from Dutch settlers’ ships. However, the only reference I can find to it anywhere is a mention on the website of the North Dakota/Minnesota Cat Coat Color Genetics project. Perhaps the 1966 paper “Gene Frequencies in the Cats of New York City” is the original source, but there is no abstract.

Cat genetics are quite intriguing, and cats are being used as an aid to teaching genetics. For example, calico and tortoise-shell cats are often used as example in explaining the concept of X-chromosome inactivation.

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