Epigenetic clock and methylation studies in cats

Ken Raj, Balazs Szladovits, Amin Haghani, Joseph A. Zoller, Caesar Z. Li, Pete Black, Dewey Maddox, Todd R. Robeck, Steve Horvath*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Human DNA methylation profiles have been used successfully to develop highly accurate biomarkers of aging (“epigenetic clocks”). Although these human epigenetic clocks are not immediately applicable to all species of the animal kingdom, the principles underpinning them appear to be conserved even in animals that are evolutionarily far removed from humans. This is exemplified by recent development of epigenetic clocks for mice and other mammalian species. Here, we describe epigenetic clocks for the domestic cat (Felis catus), based on methylation profiles of CpGs with flanking DNA sequences that are highly conserved between multiple mammalian species. Methylation levels of these CpGs are measured using a custom-designed Infinium array (HorvathMammalMethylChip40). From these, we present 3 epigenetic clocks for cats; of which, one applies only to blood samples from cats, while the remaining two dual-species human-cat clocks apply both to cats and humans. We demonstrate that these domestic cat clocks also lead to high age correlations in cheetahs, tigers, and lions. It is expected that these epigenetic clocks for cats possess the potential to be further developed for monitoring feline health as well as being used for identifying and validating anti-aging interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2363-2378
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group (SH), National Institute of Aging 1U19AG057758. The additional cat species were graciously provided by White Oak Conservation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Aging
  • Cat
  • DNA methylation
  • Development
  • Epigenetic clock


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