The cat lifestyle has evolved to be sedentary and indoor, and diabetes, obesity, and asthma are increasing in incidence, becoming chronic health concerns. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is sponsoring a more thorough genome sequencing project for the cat. Studies to determine the genetic variation within cat breeds have started. This sequencing effort will promote the development of resources (DNA chips) for genetic studies of conditions that are influenced by many genes. To study both simple and complex diseases and traits in cats, DNA chips generally make use of unrelated individuals, known as cases, that have the trait of interest, and unrelated individuals, known as controls, that do not have the trait but otherwise mimic all other aspects of the cases, including age, gender, breed and environment. The number of cases and controls needed for a study is directly correlated to the amount of inbreeding and selection within the cat population that the cases and controls represent.
Inbreeding is also considered in developing an efficient DNA chip. The stronger the inbreeding, the fewer cases and controls required, as well as fewer DNA mutations required for an efficient DNA chip. An adequate estimation of inbreeding of cat breeds has not been accomplished. This project will determine the amount of inbreeding in domestic cat breeds and random bred cat populations. This study will provide the necessary background information needed by all researchers to conduct effective case – control studies in all cat populations and help to develop the appropriate and sufficient DNA chip for the cat.