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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Hi, I have recently adopted a 3-month-old kitten from an animal shelter. Her name is Panna Cotta, and she’s my first cat. I’ve been told that she’s a Siamese and she certainly has the pointed colors and looks of a Siamese. But when I searched the internet for photos of Siamese cats, she doesn’t look like them. Then I found out about the Snowshoe Siamese, which looks almost like my kitten, but then I noticed that her fur doesn’t have that inverted V point on her face like the snowshoe. Now I’m confused — what breed is my kitten?

Snowshoe cat, CC-BY-SA Steve Voght

This is not Hashim’s cat. It is, however, a photo of a gorgeous Snowshoe named Jasper. Photo CC-BY-SA Steve Voght

~ Hashim

Siouxsie: First of all, Hashim, thank you so much for adopting a cat from a shelter. Every time you adopt, you save a life. Even when you adopt from a no-kill shelter, you make room for that shelter to rescue a cat from a place where they might be put to death.

Thomas: Snowshoes don’t necessarily have to have a V-shaped white spot on their faces. Although that is the breed standard and required for showing, many breeders sell Snowshoes with “less than perfect” white patterns as pets.

Bella: But really, there’s no way to tell for sure what breed any shelter cat is. I like to think I’m a Bombay, but Mama says my eyes are the wrong color. Some nerve!

Siouxsie: Sometimes purebred cats are surrendered to shelters, but even then, they rarely come with papers stating that they are purebred. Often, these cats go on to breed rescues.

Thomas: Most of the time, even purebred cats who escape their homes and manage to have an “oops” litter fathered by the neighborhood tom can have kittens that look like purebreds but might not necessarily have purebred genes.

Bella: Long story short, Hashim, you’re never going to know for sure.

Siouxsie: There’s no genetic test that can determine a cat’s breed, but if you’re curious, there is a genetic test available that will give you some clues about Panna Cotta’s parentage and what parts of the world her ancestors came from.

Thomas: The University of California Davis Veterinary Genetics Lab’s Cat Ancestry test is done by swabbing the inside of your cat’s cheek with a specially prepared brush and sending it back to their lab. If one of Panna Cotta’s parents was a purebred cat, the test should show it with pretty high probability. The test costs $40 US.

Bella: Mama, can I get one of those tests? I want to see if I’m a Bombay!

Mama: Bella, you don’t need a genetic test to prove how awesome you are. Now, don’t be silly.

Bella: But Mama …

Mama: Wouldn’t you rather have delicious food instead? I’d rather spend that $40 on some good eats for you instead. And maybe some toys.

Bella: Toys? Where?

Siouxsie: We hope you can be content with the mystery. If Panna Cotta looks like a Snowshoe, enjoy saying she’s a Snowshoe. Only a breeder or cat show judge will ever know the difference.

Thomas: If you do get the genetic test, we’d love to know what the results are.

Bella: Have any of you other readers done the UC Davis cat ancestry test? If so, can you please convince Mama to get one for me?

Siouxsie: Oh, Belladonna, for heaven’s sake! You heard Mama, now stop your whining. I’m trying to take a nap.

Bella: You’re always sleeping.

Siouxsie: I’m tired. I’m 18 years old, and I’ve got a right to sleep as much as I want.

Thomas: Well, like Bella said, we’d love to know if any of you have done the cat ancestry test and what the results were. Was your cat’s ancestry what you suspected, or were you shocked and amazed?

Bella: And hey, did you adopt a purebred kitty (or purebred look-alike) from a shelter? Please share your stories and how people reacted if you told them your purebred cat came from the shelter!