Catherine McDonald didn’t think much about it when she was given a DNA test as a gift. But after the results came in, her entire life changed as she discovered more and more secrets about her family.
Catherine "Cat" McDonald grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, in an average family. Although she liked the simple things in life, like plants, her parents knew she would accomplish many things in her lifetime.
As a young girl Cat was gifted with her very own kitten, and thus her love for the animal began. But that wasn't the only thing she developed a passion for. Cat began playing the violin and over time as her talent for playing the instrument grew, so did her admiration for music.
Finding Her Passion
Cat was a quick learner and it didn't take long for her to develop unbelievable skills in playing the violin. She was a true musical talent! Her teachers couldn't believe just how well she was able to play. And with more practice, her passion for the violin took her to places she couldn't have imagined.
She started not only playing covers but writing her own music as well. Cat took things to a whole new level when she started including DJ equipment in her songs. So much so, that she received 17.8K followers on Instagram after sharing her music. She had no idea how this success story would impact her life.
Cat would share more than her abilities on social media. She often posted pictures of her cat, Eleanor, who for nearly four years has been an RTP or registered therapy pet. "I can’t even begin to describe how much better my quality of life is with my fur baby," Catherine revealed on her Instagram.
Ever since Eleanor was just three weeks old she has been by Cat’s side. The breeder wanted to give the kitten away because she had “defects” but to Cat she was perfect. And ever since the two have been by each other’s side helping one another through hardships.
Eleanor was there for Cat through many life events, especially when it came to Cat attending college in the fall of 2013. She was going to be a student at Berklee College of Music where she advanced her studies in violin and eventually got her degree in the musical instrument.
Based on Catherine’s LinkedIn profile she was determined to do her best at the reputable university. She not only spent more than two hundred hours in the studio practicing violin, but she even signed five performance contracts, and made the Dean's List! This was just the start of her successful career.
Major Life Changes
After four years of perfecting her art of playing the violin, Cat graduated in 2017 and she was ready to move on to bigger and better things. Not long after, she got a job as a music director at Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. And although it was a great opportunity she only worked there for less than six months before getting a better position.
There was no way that Cat could turn down the offer to become a show captain and bandleader for Luminosity. This career change led to her uprooting her life in Massachusetts and heading over to Sandusky, Ohio where her dreams were finally getting started.
In just a year, Cat earned her bachelor's degree and worked two notable jobs, yet she still felt like her violin skills could take her further. So in 2017, she went to Belmont University where she got a Master of Arts Degree. Not only did she walk away with a degree in Music Performance, but she also formed many mentor relationships.
“'I’m…extremely humbled and honored to be working with the musical mentors I have," Catherine wrote in the caption of her Instagram post about her time working with Tracey Silverman, Ryan Joseph, and Kenny Sears. Despite her many accomplishments, Cat had no idea just how much music would affect her life.
It’s without a doubt that Catherine had accomplished many things in her life thus far. Nevertheless, the musician aspired to continue her education by receiving yet another Masters's degree in Nashville, Tennessee, based on the information on her LinkedIn profile.
It hasn’t yet been shared when Cat will be officially getting her third degree, but it's clear that her passion for music and perfecting her art hasn’t diminished through the years. If only she had known then that she had enough money to probably get as many degrees as she wanted.
Makes Musical Appearances
Cat had already made a major impact in her life with her overflowing resume and countless awards won. But somehow things got even better for her when she was hand-picked to be a feature as a singer-songwriter on an forthcoming album by Disrupción Records. Cat’s mentors and friends were utterly impressed.
The violin player had experience playing with bands as she had previously collaborated with the Southern City Band and Jacksonville Kid. And the icing on the cake is that she even participated as the vocalist and the fiddle player for Cedar Points Rockin' Country 2016. As she gained more experience she got more opportunities.
Diamonds and Whiskey
"I have no idea what my music career is going to look like, but I'm starting to realize it may already be happening," Catherine shared on her Instagram posts. She wrote about it after spending one year working as a bassist, backup vocalist, and obviously as a violinist for a CCM award-winning band named Diamonds and Whiskey.
"Thank you to those that have seen me and believed in me, through last year, through life, you know who you are…thank you for telling me to not give up. I won't, I promise," Cat added. But her time in North Carolina was coming to an end and the talented musician made her way to the awards stage.
Becoming a Well Known Name
Throughout her career, Catherine had achieved a lot. From 2015 at the Cedar Point Amusement Park to getting nominated at Santa Fe’s top 10 “Epic Artists” of her generation by Santa Fe Pro Musical Foundation a couple of years later. But some of her best moments were getting to play with top musicians in the world.
And it comes as no doubt that she received so many opportunities thanks to her ability to match pitch and her brushed shoulders. Her talents got her to play alongside many people including Mark O'Connor, Bobby McFerrin, and Natalie Dessay. And while it was all very exciting, she would soon get to meet someone who topped the list.
In Front of Thousands
Despite her successes, Cat was sometimes even shocked by her own abilities. "I'm actually making a living full-time with music, half the time I forget I'm even getting paid," she shared after being ranked the youngest singer-songwriter in New Mexico to get to number one on the ReverbNation charts.
Even more, the singer-songwriter also topped the numbers and was ranked second in the New Mexico Old Time Fiddlers Association finals. These fulfillments helped Catherine become a well-known artist, and as her, she gained popularity it eventually led her to make a shocking discovery about her life.
The Life Changing Gift
Not only did Catherine have a special connection with music, but she also had a close bond with her family members. When she went home for Christmas one year her dad got everyone a DNA test kit, and Cat was excited to see what her results could tell her about her family background.
Just as thousands of other people do each year, Cat and everyone else in her family took a swab of their DNA to get a plethora of answers about their ancestors. But, little did they know just how unbelievable when some of the results would shack their world.
The Shocking Results
It wasn't until St. Patrick's day that the results from the kits came back. It was a crazy day which she shared with all her Titkok followers. "I had an exact paternal match," the singer-songwriter revealed in a video, "It just wasn't him." These answers had a million questions running through Cat’s head.
So if her dad wasn't her biological father that meant that Catherine wasn't actually Irish, even though she had spent her whole life thinking she was! Of course, she immediately called her dad asking questions. “There's no way you're not Irish," he tried to comfort his daughter. But Cat didn’t believe it.
The Big Reveal
Her whole life Catherine identified as Irish due to her fiery red hair and her Irish last name. But now, thanks to the DNA results she found out she had 0% Irish in her blood. The test revealed that the musician was actually seventy-five percent Norwegian and twenty-five percent German/British.
It was a lot of shocking news all at once. Not only was her background not what she had thought, but neither was her father. But luckily Catherine didn’t have to wonder who her biological father was because the test told her that he was living all the way on the other side of the country.
A Paternal Match
Cat called up her mom and her two aunts right away to ask questions about where she really came from. All she wanted was the truth and she assumed they would have all the answers, but all three women were confused; they also were surprised by the news.
Thankfully her dad was able to help her out because the name of her biological dad sounded familiar to him. After a while, it became clear that the man living on the other side of the nation was actually an old family friend. Although things were getting more clear, with every new revelation Cat had more and more questions.
Catherine's life had just been flipped inside out and she felt the need to share her exceptional story with the world. So she took to Tiktok to explain to her followers everything that was going on. It got a lot of attention and over time she accumulated nearly two and a half million followers!
Instantly people were invested in this stranger's adventure of finding her birth dad. So she posted more and at one point one of her videos even reached over four-hundred views, two thousand likes and more than seven thousand comments. Despite only having 23 posts she had gone viral on Tiktok.
"I do want to say that I am very grateful for the life that my parents have provided me," she opened up in a TikTok video. Yet still, she couldn't help but want to do some investigating to finally get the truth about her family's past and who her biological father was. She felt like things weren't exactly as they seemed…
The musician said that she "Smells bull****" about the whole situation. After digging up more information she discovered that her potential birth father was worth more than she had thought! She told her followers he was a billionaire and worked as CEO of his own prominent company.
Meeting Her Real Dad
Finally after getting the answer about who her real dad was Catherine decided she had to go visit him. Her plan was simple, she would write him a letter and go to his office to give it to him. But sadly, when she arrived he heard from his secretary that Cat was there to see him and he refused to meet with her.
After trying again and not being successful, the violinist had to make her trip back home. She opened up to her followers telling them she was feeling okay with how things worked out. She even told them that the letter had thanked him, but that was where the details ended.
"Really Happy to be Alive"
Instead of dwelling on how things didn't go the way she had hoped, Cat made the choice to look back at her experience with fresh eyes. She recalled that at the office she had learned her birth dad had three daughters whom all worked for their dad’s company.
The violinist eventually came to terms with the fact that she had three half sisters whom she didn't get to know. But she still felt like she wanted her biological dad to read her letter because she was "Really happy to be alive" and wanted to thank him.
Obviously, she updated her followers through it all. "You all know as much as I do that at this point, but I really want more answers," Catherine said in a video. But as with many things on Tiktok, the followers jumped in to help and she then had to make a part three clip to reveal the new information.
The comments were filled with many followers telling Cat that they too had been in a similar situation before. There were various stories, some people learned the same things Catherine did while others shared other shocking facts about their families. But still, her story wasn’t finished…
After learning how common this experience was in the world, Cat decided to reach out for more support on social media. Thankfully she got lucky when she stumbled upon the fact that the company she took the DNA test with had programs to help people understand the information they got.
Based on reports from DNAngels, NPE, Non-Paternity Event" or "Not Parent Expected," is a person who has just "Discovered through DNA testing that the people/person they believed to be their biological parent(s) are actually not genetically related at all." They had many support groups for NPEs.
Catherine Received More Support
Joining the NPE support group was a great decision for the musician. It helped her realize she wasn't alone through this tough time. According to DNAngels, the group placed a focus on "Spreading encouragement and reminding people who are now suffering an identity crisis that they are "Not the cause of the problem."
The mantra promotes the fact that an NPE DNA result is "Only the result" and eventually people can turn their "Mess into a message." The goal of the DNAngels is to aid people who get confusing and unanswered results to "Restore genetic truth" while getting support from others.
The more and more time that Cat spend with DNAAngels she understood how common this experience really was. She met many different people who had struggles with dealing with their DNA results. This made her want to help out so she contacts DNAAngels to see how her social media presence can make an impact.
The company responded and was eager to work with the violinist. She spoke with the founder and Lead Genetic Genealogist, and also the Executive Director, Laura Leslie-Olmstead to discuss how Catherine could make a change in people's lives with her big Tiktok following.
Thousands of people everywhere learned whom they thought were their biological family members ended up not being related to them. This led to Cat reaching out to Olmstead, "I would love to channel this to a greater good. I want to ask my following to donate to DNAngels as a final "part" of my ancestry DNA series."
She went on to explain her goal was to create "A brighter future for others that have been in my shoes." Olmstead responded with a DNAAngels statement about Cat’s story that said, "We could not be more honored to join forces and become lasting allies for such a worthy cause."
Working with DNAAngels and all the support she got from her followers, Catherine opened up again saying how she felt such comfort after dealing with the experience that changed her life for good. Hopefully, the third part of her Tiktok story will reveal some more answers.
But till then, the talented musician continued to have positive thoughts about how things will turn out. Will she possibly ever get to meet her biological father and her threehalf sisters? Or will she have to wonder forever? As her story continued to unfold we will stay tuned for updates on her Tiktok account.