A partial success!!

The CFA board has finally taken a decision at the October 2011 meeting concerning the two imported SH Somalis whose offspring have – erroneously – been registered as regular Abyssinians. Here’s an exerpt of the unoffical minutes of the teleconference of the past weekend:


The CFA Board of Directors has devised a policy to resolve the issue of Abyssinians registered via pedigree from other associations which may use different terminology or definitions for their breeds; thus making it unclear to our Registration Department or impossible to determine what the accurate lineage is. For instance, some registering bodies refer to all shorthaired Somali offspring as “Abyssinian” in their pedigrees.
Specific Abyssinians registered with CFA via pedigree from another association may be assigned or reassigned the prefix numbers of 0358 (males) and 0359 (females) when it is shown that one or more cats in the 8 generations behind the cat to be registered by pedigree are, in fact, not Abyssinian by CFA’s definition.
For purposes of showing, cats with the 0358-0359 prefixes will compete in the Abyssinian color class for the appropriate color (example: a ruddy 0358 male kitten will compete and be scored in Class 0380K).
In devising this policy, an attempt was made to take into account the philosophies of all Abyssinian breeders, with the realization at the onset that no “perfect” policy could exist which would make everyone happy. Hopefully, this policy will strike a balance, so to speak, that will be as least disruptive and most inclusive as possible.
Central Office will begin to re-register the Abyssinians known to have been registered via pedigree. This statement will be included in each re-registration and will serve as notice of theneed to re-register certain cats.
The issue has been first brought before the CFA board members in July 2011,
where a decision was taken to de-register the two imports including
their offspring. Unfortunately, that decision was rescinded at the teleconference meeting in August 2011. One of the reasons was that the CFA President “thought” that there were already too many offspring registered and CFA could face legal measures. Fact is, that exactly for such circumstances the CFA registration rules clearly state, that CFA reserves the right to rescind the registration of any cat (and its descendants) at anytime if it turns out it was done in error!  Aby breeders around the globe were very upset about this “stepping back” and the Abyssinian Breed Club Europe wrote a letter to the
board pointing to the consequences should these two cats and their offspring
remain registered as regular Abys. Unfortunately, at the September teleconference, the entire issue has been tabled again that’s when the decision was taken to start an official and worldwide Petition “Help saving our Abyssinians”. Within a very short time we collected more than 100 signatures
and new ones are coming in every other day! We were very serious to initiate legal steps should CFA continue to remain inactive concerning the two SH Somalis and their offspring being registered as regular Abyssinians. Finally, at the
October teleconference, the board came up with a decision. It’s far from being what most Aby breeders around the globe would have liked to happen, but after all it WAS a decision and the cats in question and all of their descendants will be given a new prefix outside the normal breed prefix indefinitely. They will be 0358 (for males for all accepted colors) and 0359 (for females for all accepted colors). In addition, the board has now granted allowance for all new applications for registration via the pedigree process from foreign registries to first go through the screening of the breed council. The board promissed to grant guarantee that from now own the 8-generation requirement for all ancestors having to be bred according to CFA registration rules will be respected in order to be allowed registration, anything else will be rejected for registration and no new cats shall be registered with the 0358/0359 prefix other than those already circulating in CFA registration books stemming from the original imports. We also clearly asked for an affirmative answer that ALL relatives (to that part that lead to this decision) to the 0358/0359 registered cats will be rejected CFA registration.  The 0358/0359 can continue to be shown alongside with the regular Abyssinians, can collect show points, are scored for regional/national placement and can grand. Many Aby breeders are not at all happy about that latter decision but it was part of the compromise. The Aby community will certainly keep a keen eye on the whole issue and that current new ruling will be followed or they will be prepared to take further steps in order to protect the breed and its history! We will also keep the Petition alive and we encourage anybody to sign it, if they think the same way and that Abys should be bred as they have been for now well over hundred years!

CFA’s recording system for imported cats not meeting registration rules

Here are the rules to record cats from a foreign registry system with CFA, if the cats do not meet CFA registration rules for its corresponding breed:


CFA is offering this new service, called Cat’s Ancestral Tracking Service (CATS), as a supplement to our regular breed registry. Participation in CATS is intended to provide an accurate recording of a cat’s ancestry and that cat’s future generations. The intention is to build a pedigree history for the cat and its offspring. The desired end result would be to have recorded a sufficient number of generations (that conform to the usual requirements for the breed) to allow for the possible acceptance of the line into CFA’s standard registration files.A cat recorded under this system will not be issued the standard CFA certificate of registration, is not guaranteed acceptance or breed recognition into CFA’s usual registry, and is not eligible for showing in CFA. For this line to cross over from CATS to our standard registration database, all future generations would be required to meet the usual CFA registration requirements.Cats may be listed in the CATS database, which will be completely separate from our regular system, under the following possible circumstances. Other situations will be considered on an individual basis.
Recognized breeds with insufficient number of generations of ancestry to be included in the CFA registry, such as Siamese or Abyssinians with fewer than 8 generations of known and registered background.
Recognized breeds with NO ancestral history, such as cats in or from a country with a developing cat fancy, which has no registration association in which to record a cat’s history and therefore cannot supply the required certified pedigrees necessary for standard registration.
Recognized breeds from organizations currently not recognized by CFA for cross-registration purposes (ICE, ACE, UFO, etc.).
Breeds recognized for registration by other associations, but not by CFA, such as Australian Mist, Burmillas, etc.
Cats whose breed is not currently accepted for registration in CFA or any other association.
Cats that would not be eligible for registration with CFA due to breeds and/or colors found in the background and which are not accepted by CFA as allowable outcrosses.

PLEASE NOTE: The CATS system was not established for the recording of pets or for those cats which have been altered. CATS was created to be used by breeders who wish to perpetuate a particular line of breeding by recording each generation for eventual acceptance of future offspring for both breeding and showing purposes. It is meant for those who are willing to take the necessary steps over what could be a number of generations in order to record the existence of a particular line of cats. Recording of a cat using this plan would have no practical advantage for the non-breeding pet owner.

The fees for this service are as follows:

$10.00 per individual cat
Only individual cats will be accepted for recording in the CATS system. It will not be possible to apply for the recording of entire litters using the standard litter application process.

The application to enter your cat into the CATS system is available in a PDF format or a copy can be obtained through the CFA office. Photocopies of all available documentation (pedigrees, etc., letters, or import documents, if any) should be submitted along with the application, which must be signed and dated by the applicant. At least one color photo must also be enclosed, which will become part of the cat’s permanent file and cannot be returned.

$20.00 to transfer a cat from CATS to the CFA’s main registry.
The conversion to standard registration will not be initiated automatically by CFA once standard registration requirements have been met. It will be the responsibility of the cat’s owner to make the request for transfer. The request should be in writing and should include the return of the CATS certificate for the cat along with the required transfer fee.

The rule can be found on CFA homepage here

Genetic screening using SNP Array technology – what is this?

Texas A & M University Animal Genetics Laboratory uses SNP array technology  (as they explain on their introduction site) to screen your cat’s DNA for possible mutations responsible for expressing certain traits or making it susceptible to certain diseases.

So, what does SNP stand for? SNP is the short form for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism and is the variation of a single base pair in the DNA sequence between either the members of a species or between the paired chromosomes of an individual. These polymorphisms may affect how organisms develop diseases and respond to chemicals and drugs. SNPs are, therefore, of great value in biomedical research and drug development. SNP detection and genotyping can be used to explain and diagnose many diseases, to study the variation in drug responses, to establish the origin of biological material and to study the relatedness between individuals.

Once it has been established that a SNP pattern is associated with a particular disease, or traits, such as coat color or coat length, etc. they can use SNP microarray technology to test an individual for that disease/trait expression pattern to determine whether the individual is susceptible to (at risk of developing) that disease or express/carries the trait. When genomic DNA from an individual is hybridized to an array loaded with various SNPs, the sample DNA will hybridize with greater frequency only to specific SNPs associated with that individual. Those spots on the microarray will then fluoresce with greater intensity.

Please, also look at the following animation illustrating and explaining the technology

Controversial DNA test results?

There was recently a huge discussion about the test results for an “Aby” whose DNA sample has been sent to two labs (UC Davis and Texas A & M) for screening if the cat carries for longhair since only 10 years ago some Somalis were introduced in that pedigree. The results came back different or should I say inconclusive. Read my thoughts about it below.

I will be trying to explain with different words and  how the explanatory text from the Texas A&M site can be interpreted and whose correct link, btw, is:
http://www.catdnatest.org/DNA-results.html .

First thing to notice is, that apparently Texas A&M (other than UC Davis) only tests for 3 of the 4 Mutations involved in modifying hair length in cats. They are M1, M2 and M4, hence they do not test for M3. Also the Texas A & M uses two different markers for M4 (M4 and M4_2), due to difficulties in typing they say. Their observance in results is, that in most cases the result is the same for both markers (for example M4 +/- and M4_2 +/-). In order for a cat to show the longhair however it seems that cats need to have two mutations at either M4 or M4_2 (or both together?). One mutation at each marker of M4 would not make it a longhair cat, unless there would be an additional mutation at one of the other loci (M1- M3). So the compound heterozygote doesn’t apply for mutation M4 when both markers have one mutation.

Below you can see a couple of combinations of different mutations and how they “translate”:

Mutation M1 Mutation M2 Mutation M3 Mutation M4 Mutation M4_2 Phenotype Genotype
+/- +/- -/- -/- -/- longhair compound heterozygote
-/- -/- +/- +/- -/- longhair compound heterozygote
-/- -/- -/- +/+ -/- longhair homozygote
-/- -/- +/- -/- -/- shorthair carrying M3
-/- -/- -/- +/- +/- shorthair carrying M4/M4_2
-/- -/- -/- -/- -/- shorthair homozygote
-/- -/- +/- +/- -/- longhair compound heterozygote

The test result for the cat in questions shows one mutation for M4_2, and no mutation for M4. Cat also doesn’t have any mutation for M1 and M2, M3 is not tested by that Laboratory. Another Laboratory reported the cat to be free of any mutation (M1-M4), but I do not know wether they test for both markers in M4.  So far, it is not clear, whether mutation M4_2 is functional or not. None of the description I read so far did state that anywhere clearly, neither pro nor con. If there do exist cats which tested M4_2 +/+ and are phenotypically longhaired, then the answer should be yes. Question is, did they also test M4 +/+, if so, it still would not be clear if the mutation M4 at the 2nd marker is functional or not. My first approach would be to contact Texas A&M and ask them exactly that question. Maybe, they are inconclusive themselves, then we are back to square.

Another thought we never have to dismiss when receiving test results for genetic screening is: Possibilities for errors due to contamination (during or after sampling) or other causes DO exist. Read more about at the following site: DNA Testing: An Introduction for Non-Scientists If nothing else then I would at least resample the cat in question by trying to be as careful as possible to avoid contamination during sampling. Then sending the NEW sample to both Laboratories, maybe even a third, and see how the results translate. This can become quite costly and the question arises if it would not be simpler to just mate the cat in question to a longhair cat and see whether it produces longhair offspring. Unfortunately, even if one phenotypically HAS the trait and the other one carries it, there is not 100% certainty that the recessive will show in offspring in just one mating. On the other hand, why even going through all these obstacles from multiple testing to possible test matings if the pedigree shows recent introduction of the longhair? Our breed still has a large genepool if breeders take the time and work to search for outcrosses not having another breed recently introduced.

Other than all of the above said and if the mutation M4 at the 2nd marker IS functional then of course the cat CAN produce longhaired offspring.

In addition we still do not know if more mutations exist that could affect growth of hair. Quoting from the study: “Although this study included 62 unrelated individuals from 14 long-haired breed registries and 23 long-haired nonbreed cats from the Johns Hopkins University and Nestle-Purina pedigrees, it is possible that additional mutations in the feline FGF5 gene may be present in unsampled long-haired breed and nonbreed cats. In addition, the reported quantitative and qualitative differences between the coats of long-haired cat breeds indicate that other independent loci may modify the major influence of FGF5 on hair length in the domestic cat (Vella and Robinson 1999).”

The fulltext study can be found here, or read the abstract of the other study.

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