Quick Summary

The agouti signaling protein interacts with the melanocortin 1 receptor to switch between black and red pigments, creating a banding pattern in individual hairs. Mutations in the agouti signaling protein gene (ASIP) prevent this switch from occurring, resulting in hairs of uniform color.

Close up view of Siberian cat fur
Close up view showing the agouti banded hairs of a Siberian cat

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Phenotype: Non-agouti cats do not have alternating pigments in their hair and appear solid aka self-colored.

Mode of Inheritance: Autosomal recessive

Alleles: A = agouti, a = non-agouti

Breeds appropriate for testing: Most breeds

Explanation of Results:

  • Cats with A/A genotype will have agouti banded hair. They will transmit this agouti variant to all of their offspring, and all of their offspring will have banded hair.
  • Cats with A/a genotype will have agouti banded hair. They will transmit this agouti variant to 50% of their offspring, and the offspring of an A/a genotype cat can be agouti or non-agouti depending on the genotype of the mate.
  • Cats with a/a genotype will have self-colored (solid) hair. If bred to another non-agouti cat (a/a genotype), all offspring will also have non-banded, solid-colored hair.

Note: Overall appearance of the cat's coat also depends on expression of and complex interactions with other genes.

Turnaround Time
At least 15 business days; may be delayed beyond 15 business days if sample requires additional testing, or a new sample is requested.

$44 one test per animal

Sample Collection:

Cat DNA tests are carried out using cells collected from your cat's cheeks and gums using household cotton swabs.

The cat DNA submission form with instructions, pricing, and a place to tape the cotton swabs can be printed from your home computer after signing up for a MyVGL account and placing an order. Test kits are not mailed.

Step-By-Step Instructions:


Person looking at different brands of cotton swabs in a storePurchase regular household cotton swabs for cat DNA collection (the cotton swabs can be purchased at a pharmacy or drug store)



Label indicating both ends of the two cotton swabsUse both ends of the two cotton swabs for a total of four swabs.



Demonstration of swabbing the inner cheek of a cat with a cotton swabCollect the DNA sample by swabbing the cheek and gums of the cat.



Cotton swabs taped to bar-coded submission form for VGLAfter swabbing the cheek and gums, tape the cotton swabs to the bar-coded submission form printed from your MyVGL account.

Additional Details

The agouti signaling protein (ASIP) gene, or Agouti, interacts with the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) to regulate the switch from eumelanin (present as black, brown, cinnamon, or their respective dilutions) to phaeomelanin (present as red or yellow or their respective dilutions) pigment deposition in the hair shaft at certain points in the growth cycle of the hair. This results in individual banded hairs with the visual effect of an intermediate color between the two pigments. The length of the respective bands modulates the visual effect as well.

In domestic cats, a 2 bp deletion (c.123delCA) in the agouti signaling protein disrupts protein function. This mutation has an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, thus when two copies are present, pigment switching is prevented from occurring. This results in a hair of uniform color (often called solid or “self-colored”). A separate gene causes patterns of dark stripes or blotches (tabby patterns) to be interspersed with lighter hairs. Hairs in the darker stripes do not undergo the shift between black and red-yellow pigment production during their growth, and thus remain uniformly dark. The areas outside of the dark tabby stripes are composed of agouti-banded hairs. In a non-agouti cat (a/a), the tabby pattern is still present, but it is just not visible since all the hairs in the pattern and outside the pattern are a uniform color.

There are instances where the tabby pattern can be seen despite a homozygous recessive (a/a) genotype at the agouti locus. A sex-linked red/orange cat will exhibit the tabby pattern regardless of whether it is agouti (A/A or A/a) or non-agouti (a/a). Under certain lighting conditions, faint tabby patterns are occasionally observed on the body in a/a cats, especially in kittens with the dilution variant. Lastly, melanistic (a/a) Bengal cats will often exhibit a faint tabby pattern as well.