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After an initial focus on studying the genomes of dogs, genetics researchers are now switching to cats.
After the completion of the human, mouse and rat genomes, the US National Institutes of Health organized a commission to decide on their next target; the dog genome was selected for high-quality sequencing, whereas cats were put on hold.
That got some cat geneticists’ backs up. “The truth is there were more powerful people interested in dogs,” says Stephen O’Brien, director of the Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics in St Petersburg, Russia, who led the initial cat-sequencing efforts.
There is now a project which, for only $7,500, allows scientists to map the genome of any cat for the cause of science. Under this program, they’ve already done 56 cats, including a kitten and her parents.