Catherine McDonald could never have known how much her life would change after learning that a long-time family friend was actually her father. As events transpired, it became clear there was more to her family's past than she realized.
Catherine “Cat” Mcdonald hails from Nashville, Tennessee. The avid plant lover had a fairly typical family life, but she was anything but an average child. From a young age, her parents knew she would go on to do great things. And they were certainly right about that.
She was also a lover of cats, being given her first feline friend as a young child. During those years there was only one thing she loved more than the fury animal - music. She began learning the violin, and the instruments eventually became her true love. It would also take her to significant heights as an adult.
Finding Her Passion
It was clear to everyone around her that little Cat had an effortless way with the instrument. She loved the rhythm and sound of the violin and picked up on the skill pretty fast. Her parents and teachers were astonished and never expected how much Cat would develop her skills over the years.
As she got older, Catherine became interested in recording her own music independently. She purchased some DJ equipment and began performing, further developing her talents. She then made an Instagram where her music attracted over 18.7K followers! Of course, this took her progress even further.
Her Best Friend And Baby
And still, as a young adult, the only thing Catherine loved as much as her violin was Eleanor, her pet cat. "I can’t even begin to describe how much better my quality of life is with my fur baby," she wrote on Instagram. Eleanor had been in her life for some time and was a registered therapy pet.
Cat had rescued precious Eleanor at just three weeks old, as Eleanor’s breeder had wanted to do away with the feline due to some birth “defects.” Of course, the young cat lover saw nothing wrong with the little kitten and jumped at the opportunity to adopt her. And she couldn’t have made a better decision.
Earning Her Bachelors
With her furry friend beside her, Catherine felt motivated and inspired to achieve anything that she wanted. The first step was receiving her Bachelor's degree, and likely to the envy of many she was accepted into the violin program at Berklee College of Music! In 2013 she undertook her degree in violin performance.
Cat was fully committed to her study, and according to her LinkedIn profile, she practiced the violin for more than 200 hours in the studio, as well as signing five performance contracts and making the Dean’s List at Berklee! Quite the laundry list of accomplishments. But this was just the beginning of her success and ambition.
A New Life Begins
In 2017 Catherine graduated from Berklee with her Bachelor’s in violin performance. She knew it was time to get more professional experience in the music industry, so she took a position as a music director at Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. But in just six months she had to quit due to being offered the chance of a lifetime.
Later in 2017, she was offered the role of show captain and bandleader for Luminosity! She quit her job as music director and moved to Sandusky, Ohio. It was here that a new journey and an exciting new chapter of her life was beginning. Cat knew that great things were to come.
After her success as a music director, Catherine was fast establishing a very impressive career and reputation. Soon enough she was accepted to study further at Belmont University. During her study for a Master of the Arts Degree, Catherine met several mentors and bagged a degree in Music Performance.
Cat took to her Instagram, writing, "I'm…extremely humbled and honoured to be working with the musical mentors I have." She detailed her time under the mentorship of professionals including Tracey Silverman, Ryan Joseph, and Kenny Sears. Though she had seen so much success, she still had no idea how far music would take her.
A Thirst For Education
Despite the success she had already seen, Cat held herself to a very high standard, and it’s not surprising that her education so far wasn’t enough for the ambitious musician. She shared on her LinkedIn that she has every intention of pursuing another degree in Nashville, Tennessee.
She has yet to mention exactly when she plans to gain this next certificate, but considering her success so far there is no doubt she’ll complete her next qualification soon enough. And though she didn’t know it yet, there could be plenty of cash to pay for it.
Add It To The List
By now Catherine had already earned her fair share of accolades, awards, and accomplishments, but there was more good news to come. As if people weren’t impressed enough, she took to social media to share that she was going to appear on the next Disrupción Records album as a singer-songwriter.
And during this time she was still putting herself out there and performing as much as possible, in bands like the Southern City Band and Jacksonville Kid. She also featured as a vocalist and fiddle player in Cedar Point's Rockin' Country 2016. Her popularity was only growing.
Diamonds and Whiskey
Again Cat took to Instagram to share her awe over her career, saying "I have no idea what my music career is going to look like, but I'm starting to realize it may already be happening." She had just spent an emotional year as a backup vocalist, violist and bassist for a CCM award-winning band called 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," she continued in her emotional post. She had finally adjusted to being a traveling musician and was about to reap the rewards.
In Good Company
In just a few short years Catherine had done all of these things, including being nominated as one of the top ten “Epic Artists” of this generation by the Santa Fe Pro Musical Foundation! She was coming into her own, so much so that some of the world’s best musicians wanted to perform with her.
And soon enough the talented woman was standing alongside these gifted musicians and holding her own with the likes of Mark O'Connor, Bobby McFerrin, and Natalie Dessay. This list of world-renowned collaborators was a dream for Catherine, but it didn’t end there.
Paid To Play
Despite all of her success, Cat still seemed shocked by how far she had come. After she was ranked the youngest New Mexico singer-songwriter resident to place at number one on the ReverbNation charts, Cat voiced her shock. "I'm actually making a living full-time with music, half the time I forget I'm even getting paid," she said.
And the accomplishments only continued to roll in, as soon after she came second in the New Mexico Old Time Fiddlers Association finals. She had a list of talents, and the world was finally beginning to recognize them. She had quite a few fans too, who were about to be shocked by the revelations that would soon surround the musician.
The Moment Everything Changed
But music and her little cat Eleanor weren’t the only important things in Catherine’s life. She also had a close and loving relationship with her family. And it was hardly a surprise when her father presented the family with a series of DNA kits for Christmas. It was meant to be a special way to explore their family roots.
Catherine and her family used the tests with enthusiasm, as so many people around the world do. With one small swab, they could find a world of fascinating information. But none of them could have expected what one of their family members was about to discover.
The Results Come In
On St. Patrick's day just a few months later, the McDonald family received their DNA results. That’s when Cat discovered some unexpected and shocking news. She took to Tik Tok to share. "I had an exact paternal match," she explained, "It just wasn't him." That’s right - she had no DNA match with her father.
It sounds incredible, but Catherine’s DNA test results came back with zero Irish DNA. This might not sound that strange - except her father was of Irish descent! "There's no way you're not Irish," her father told her in a phone call after Cat shared the news. But his daughter wasn’t convinced.
The Truth Comes Out
All her life Catherine McDonald had referred to herself as Irish-American, due to her surname and her shock of red hair. But her DNA test directly opposed that idea. She simply wasn’t Irish at all. Instead, her DNA was made up of seventy-five percent Norwegian and twenty-five percent German/British.
Though this was a shocking enough fact on its own, it also proved something that shook the young musician to her career. If she had no Irish DNA, she could not be her father's daughter. And her one-hundred percent paternal match could actually be found on the other side of the country.
Her Paternal Match
After talking with her father, she knew she had to look further. So she called her mother and aunts to find out more. But after talking to these women in her life, she had no further information. All three were shocked and confused by the revelation.
But it was her father who seemed to have the information she needed. He vaguely recognized the name of his daughter's “real” father, and after digging around for more information he realized that the man had been an old family friend. But the more Cat uncovered about her family, the more confused she became.
Scaling The Heights Of TikTok
During this time TikTok had become one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, so naturally, Catherine decided to reach out to people there, hoping to raise awareness of her strange discovery. Over time her posts about her father earned twenty thousand comments and nearly two and a half million likes.
People all over the world were invested in Cat’s unusual story and were ecstatic when she posted part two to her first video. The second clip has reached four hundred and two thousand likes and thousands of comments. Because of her DNA curiosity, she has become TikTok famous with only twenty-three posts.
Who To Trust?
Catherine didn’t hold back in her research. She wanted to uncover as much as she could about her supposed biological father and the strange circumstances surrounding her birth. "I do want to say that I am very grateful for the life that my parents have provided me," she insisted on TikTok. But she knew something wasn’t right.
Without a hint of amusement, she insisted that she "Smells bull****" somewhere in her parents' story. After weeks of research and amateur detective work, she unearthed some interesting info about her alleged birth father. He was a billionaire! And though she didn’t share his name online, she confirmed that he was a CEO.
Travelling To Find The Truth
After investing so much in the situation, Catherine felt there was only one thing she could do. So she packed up some things and drove halfway across the country to meet her father at his corporate office. She wanted to meet him and give him a letter, but the man had caught wind of her arrival.
His secretary admitted that he had refused to meet her, and after some attempts, she finally accepted defeat and returned home. She took to TikTok again to share her “progress”, admitting she felt ok with the situation. Her letter had been a simple “thank you” to him, along with a few other undisclosed things.
Just Happy To Be Alive
Though she was disappointed with the results, Catherine knew she couldn’t be discouraged by the conclusion her detective work had brought her to. Instead, she began to reflect on her experience. She had actually learned that the three daughters of her billionaire father worked at the office too, though she didn’t get to meet them.
Though the idea of meeting three sisters was a tempting and somewhat saddening one, Catherine shared the situation hadn’t worked out how she expected, and though she was a little rattled she was okay. All she had wanted to do was tell the man that she was "Really happy to be alive," and to thank him for his part in her birth.
More Answers To Find
Catherine returned to TikTok, reminding her followers that "You all know as much as I do that at this point, but I really want more answers." She delved deeper into the internet world and implored her Tiktok community to help her find out more information. She promised to make a third video if she discovered more.
But Catherine soon discovered that she was not the only one with these unusual familial experiences. In the comments section of her TikTok videos, it soon became clear that many viewers had experienced similar shocking news about their own families. So what was Cat to do?
Help Is On The Way
Though she insisted she was ok, the whole experience had been a blow to the successful musician. And like so many others do in upsetting situations, she reached out to a support group. And she quickly found an opportunity offered through the company that had done her DNA testing.
The kind of group she was looking for was an NPE support group, according to DNAngels. An NPE (Non-Paternity Event or “Not Parent Expected”) is someone who has "Discovered through DNA testing that the people/person they believed to be their biological parent(s) is actually not genetically related at all."
Catherine was able to feel much better about the confusing discoveries she had made that year. She was welcomed into the NPE support group DNAngels, who have a mantra that focused on "Spreading encouragement and reminding people who are now suffering an identity crisis that they are "Not the cause of the problem."
The support group went to great lengths to assure their members that they are "Only the result" and can turn their "Mess into a message." DNAngels mission statement is to help people who cannot connect with or identify the results of their DNA tests, and to “restore genetic truth.”
Taking An Active Role
But after all of the overwhelming feelings she had felt over her DNA journey, Catherine began to think of the countless people in her country who had experienced all of the same confusion that she had. So she asked DNAngels how she could use her platform to help these people.
The representatives of DNAngels were grateful, supportive, and enthusiastic about Catherine’s inquiry. Her desire to help others in a similar situation was extremely promising. Soon she was connected with the founder of DNAngels, Lead Genetic Genealogist and Executive Director, Laura Leslie-Olmstead.
A Greater Good
Catherine realized that there were thousands of people that didn’t know the full truth of their genetics, or weren’t sure how to grapple with the truth when they discovered it. "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 said.
She explained herself further, saying that she hoped to offer "A brighter future for others that have been in my shoes." The DNAngels even released an accompanying statement, saying "We could not be more honoured to join forces and become lasting allies for such a worthy cause."
Things Are Looking Up
Catherine Mcdonald was now armed with a new cause outside of music - she had a meaningful partnership with DNAngels, and had overcome much of the confusion and upset that her DNA test had caused her. We can’t wait to see the third part of her TikTok video series.
Despite all of the ups and downs, her DNA journey has brought her, Cat remains hopeful and optimistic about the future. Will she try to seek out her CEO father again, or will she focus her energy on her DNAngels partnership? We’re just thankful she has a TikTok, so we see what comes next!