Feline Genetics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The carnivore family Felidae is composed of 38 species of cats, including domestic cats, which naturally range over five continents. As stunningly efficient and majestic carnivores, cats specialize in agility, stealth, and speed during their predation and are the keynote species in their ecosystems. From the largest subspecies of tiger to the smallest breed of domestic cat, the Singapura, cats are easily recognized by their form, function, and genetics. Domestic cats originated from their Felis lineage wildcat progenitors in the Near and Middle East as humans became agricultural species. In tandem with human migrations, domestic cats have traveled around the world, generally to work as vermin control on boats and farms; thus, their population management has generally been unrestricted. Although all nondomestic species of cats are listed as endangered or threatened by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), because domestic cats, as non-native species, severely threaten native wildlife species, their management is a matter of significant debate, even though the resulting feral populations are due to human negligence. According to pet owner surveys, approximately 38 million households (~34%) in the United States own a cat, accounting for approximately 88.3 million cats. Feline genetics is being employed to conserve the wild populations of cats, manage the feral populations of domestic cats, and improve the health of the beloved random-bred and fancy cat breeds. Advances in feline genetic resources are assisting all populations of cats, both wild and domestic. Studies and improvements of cat health have diverse and direct effects on human health and well-being, including helping to understand the mechanisms of disease as well as providing benefits in nursing and hospice care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBrenner's Encyclopedia of Genetics
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780080961569
ISBN (Print)9780123749840
StatePublished - Feb 27 2013


  • Breeds
  • Chromosomes
  • Domestic cat
  • Domestication
  • Felidae
  • Felis catus
  • Genome
  • Sequence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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