If you acquire your kitten at a breeder, you probably know the little guy's origins. If you pick your little one up off the street or at an animal shelter, however, things remain more mysterious. Thankfully, you might not have to be in the dark about your feline's specific breed or breed background. Testing is available.
Asking around can sometimes go a long way to figure out what kind of kitten you have. When you take your kitten in for checkups and shots, you can see if the veterinarian has an idea. Cat breeders and the staff at animal rescue organizations also might be able to point you in the right direction. These individuals see cats -- and all types of them -- all of the time, whether they're domestic short-haired or more exotic Balinese varieties. A true cat aficionado might be able to get detailed with you, discerning between the nuances of Russian blues and Korats. The bulk of the cats you see around, however, are mixed cuties, whether they have long or short hair.
The DIY approach might be the way to go to figure out what kind of kitten you have. Your local library might have lots of books that discuss various cat breeds available, and Internet humane societies and feline organizations also often provide detailed profiles on many of the common and not so common cat breeds, complete with colorful pictures. If you get to compare a picture of a Russian blue to a Korat cat side by side, you might notice that your kitten has a slightly stockier physique -- a common sign of the Korat breed.
Visually determining the genetic background of a cat can be tough in many cases, especially if you're looking for an accurate, dependable answer. Luckily, genetic testing is available. By examining the DNA of a cat, experts can pinpoint details on the specific feline's roots, often including geographic information. They do this by analyzing DNA from mouth swabs extracted via their cheeks. If you're interested in getting your pet tested, talk to your veterinarian regarding available options. The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California Davis provides these tests -- via mail -- for interested pet owners.
Age and Testing
Don't worry about your kitten perhaps being too young for genetic testing. Feline DNA remains the same all throughout their lives, whether they're a few weeks old, two decades old or anywhere in between. Also note that if you're still uncertain about your kitten's gender, the test can confirm that too.
- UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory: Cat Ancestry - Frequently Asked Questions
- Animal Planet: Cat Breed Selector
- CatChannel.com: Cat Breed Information
- MSPCA Angell: Cat Color/Breed Guide
- ASPCA: General Cat Care
- Cat Fanciers' Association: Breed Profile - The Korat
- Cat Fanciers' Association: Breed Profile - Russian Blue
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images