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As a geeky cat lady (I mean, let’s be real, I write for a cat website) I was thrilled to use one of Basepaws cat DNA test kits to get a glimpse into the genes that make my companion kitty, Paco, who he is.
A sort of 23andMeow Basepaws gives cat parents a fascinating insight into our cat’s origins, genetic traits, and potential health problems.
I was psyched to see which breeds Paco is related to and to get the scoop on any health conditions he might be prone to.
Because Basepaws is in the process of building a complete database to identify genetic markers for hereditary diseases, behavioral traits, and more, Paco’s DNA results are contributing to one of the most comprehensive feline genetic databases in the world.
Here’s how it went down when I got Paco’s results, and what you need to know about trying Basepaws for yourself.
Paco’s Basepaws Results
Basepaws takes an interactive approach to share our cat’s DNA and health results.
On the first page of Paco’s Basepaw’s result is the large Breed Analysis pie chart. This chart details the Western, Eastern, Exotic, and Persian cat breeds that make Paco his tabby-striped self.
The next page is the Wildcat Index. Followed by 10 pages dedicated to “Health Markers.”
The final portion of the Basepaws results is focused on profiles for all of the cat breeds
Basepaws cat kit’s test for.
This part was a little confusing to me as it listed all of the breed possibilities, not just the ones Paco is related to.
Overall I love how easy to read and straightforward the summary of Paco’s results was.
Cooler still is that Paco’s DNA report will update regularly based on Basepaws’ continually evolving data collections. This informative and easy-to-understand results report has me eager to gift Basepaws DNA test kits to the passionate cat lovers in my life.
Paco’s Chromosome Map
The Health Markers and Chromosome Map are the part of the Basepaws results that I was the most anxious about reading. This section decodes which genes and potential mutations are linked to specific genetically influenced diseases and disorders Paco may be at risk of developing.
Could Paco have the deadly Polycystic Kidney Disease? Could he potentially suffer Retinal Degeneration and the resulting blindness from the condition? Was there a possibility that he could be on his way to autoimmune disease ALPS?
My heart lept and I felt myself starting to sweat with anticipation. It was only as I slowly scrolled down to each disease and saw the green words “clear” by each, that I found myself exhaling a sigh of relief.
I adopted my sweet Paco when I was 14-years-old and he was a three-month-old kitten. Fifteen years later, I’m on the edge of thirty and he’s still with me. Knowing that his chances of developing any major feline illnesses or disorders gave me so much peace of mind.
Paco’s Closest Ancestors
This fun chart broke down which cats in the four major breed categories influenced Paco’s appearance and personality. It turns out that the Western cat breeds, particularly the Maine Coon make up most of Paco’s genetics. With his larger-than-normal frame and the thickness and fluffiness of his fur, I had a feeling he’d have some Maine Coon in him!
The just-for-kicks Wildcat Index looked at the top four big cats that have the closest “genomic similarity” to Paco. The one with the closest resemblance? Cheetahs! With Paco’s penchant for bolting bullet-fast out of situations he doesn’t want to be in, I wasn’t surprised that these spotted speedsters may have a paw in his DNA.
What cat DNA test kits does Basepaws have?
Basepaws offers three “CatKits”:
- Basepaws Breed and Health DNA Test: this kit includes a breed group chromosome map, wild cat index, a close look at genetic markers, and veterinarian-written health and wellness information. The 38 genetic health markers in this report represent 16 feline diseases, including Hypothyroidism and Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).
- Basepaws Whole Genome Sequencing DNA Test: this kit includes everything from the Breed Groups and Breed and Health DNA kits. What makes this kit unique (and costs so much more) is that it breaks down your kitty’s entire genetic code. The amount of data this test kit provides is 10,000 times more than the amount of any standard pet DNA test.
- Dental Health Test: this groundbreaking kit is the first of its kind to focus exclusively on feline dental health. This kit decodes over 1,000 microbes in your cat’s mouth to screen for serious and deadly conditions like periodontal disease, gingivitis, and tooth resorption. The objective of this test is to catch dental disease early enough to reverse the condition.
What’s included in Basepaws cat DNA report?
- Breed Analysis and Chromosome Map: The Chromosome Map shows your cat’s individual chromosome pairs and looks at how they match up with 4 main breed groups and 21 individual breeds in the Basepaws database.
- Wild Cat Index: While all domesticated cats share the same wildcat ancestor, the North African/Southwest Asian wildcat (or, Felis silvestris lybica), they do share some genes with other wild cats. This looks at how similar your kitty’s DNA is to big cats like tigers and cheetahs.
- Health Markers: This is the largest section of the cat DNA report and closely examines genetic health markers associated with genetic disorders that appear in your cat’s DNA. Some of the diseases and illnesses that this health screening can find include:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): feline heart disease
- Polycystic kidney disease (PKD): a painful condition that leads to kidney failure. PKD is the most common genetic disorder in cats
- Retinal degeneration: this can lead to blindness or impaired vision
- Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative Syndrome (ALPS): enlarged lymphatic nodes and spleen that is often fatal
- Plus 13 more genetic diseases
How much are DNA tests for cats?
Cat DNA test kits are priced comparably to other at-home DNA test kits. Basepaws’ basic cat DNA test kit costs $99, about the same as a basic Ancestry DNA and 23andMe DNA test kit for humans.
Basepaws includes a more comprehensive report that costs $149. This has all of the information from the basic kit but with a more thorough health screening that continually updates the results of your kitty’s DNA report as the database grows.
The most detailed Basepaws cat DNA test kit costs $599. It includes your cat’s whole genome sequence and all the raw data decoded by Basepaws geneticists. It also includes the most detailed health report.
How can I tell if my cat is purebred?
Unlike purebred dogs, many cat breeds are less than 100 years old. This means it’s far more likely for cats to have multiple breeds in their cat ancestry.
With this in mind, Basepaws doesn’t just look at the individual cat breed but also lumps several breeds together based on “type” to see what groups of purebred cats may have a genetic influence on your kitty.
For example, Eastern cat breed groups include breeds like Burmese, Oriental Shorthair, and Birman cats. While Western breeds include Ragdolls, Maine Coon, Lykoi, and Siberian cats.
Mixed breed cats have impressive genetic diversity in their DNA. If snapshots of cat genetics were manifested as art, they’d be the “Jackson Pollock” paintings of the genetics world.
Basepaws is transparent that their cat DNA test kits are not intended to be used to confirm your cat’s breed or pedigree. In other words, Basepaws isn’t a cat breed identifier and can’t tell you if you have a purebred cat. The test kit is designed to look at genetic similarities between commonly recognized breeds of cats as well as gauge your cat’s genetic similarity to big cats like tigers, leopards, and cougars with the wildcat index percentage.
What does a cat DNA test tell you?
Cat DNA testing decodes your kitty’s genome. Kits like Basepaws’s use a database of feline genetics to determine if your kitty has DNA from one or more of the 20 breed types from four different regions. This is also known as a “Breed Index Report.”
But, cat DNA test kits like Basepaws aren’t just a novelty cat ancestry test.
Feline DNA testing is a very effective tool for understanding your kitty’s health. By identifying specific genetic markers, a Basepaws cat DNA test kit is able to pick up on any major diseases or disorders your kitty has, or could potentially develop.
Considering that approximately 4 million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters every year in the U.S., cat DNA tests can provide major insights into the health of kitties of unknown parentage and mixed-breed origins.
Who is Basepaws?
Basepaws is the brainchild of cat lover and entrepreneur Anna Skaya.
Having founded and successfully run a human DNA test company for several years, Skaya opted to try her hand at decoding feline DNA. Skaya appeared on Shark Tank in 2017, to present her kitty genetics company and successfully won over two of the sharks: Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec.
Skaya envisioned Basepaws as a way to help cat parents learn more about their kitty’s health.
Her mission? To build the biggest feline genomics database so we can better understand health and disease in cats.
Domestic cats are still a bit of a mystery in the scientific community. So far, the largest genome sequencing project for cats, the 99 Lives Project, includes genes from only 200 cats. In comparison, the dog-based Dog10k Project includes a whopping 10,000 dogs and all of the world’s recognized dog breeds.
All of the data Basepaws gathers is put in a database to develop a larger picture of what causes diseases and health conditions in cats.
23 and Meow
Basepaws’s founder envisioned her cat DNA kit company as a “23andMe” for cats. Since cats only have 19 pairs of chromosomes, Skaya went with “Basepaws” for her kitty DNA company.
Alternatives to Basepaws
There are a few other at-home cat DNA test kits to choose from. However, these are a lot less comprehensive than Basepaws and are focused on screening your kitty’s health and seeing if they have any genetic anomalies or are predisposed to a certain genetic condition.
NeoGen Cat DNA Test
This cat DNA test kit was developed by NeoGen and The Cat Fanciers’ Association. Using a more DIY approach than Basepaws, NeoGen requires you to order the test kit online and to gather your own samples to be sent out. NeoGen suggests having a vet collect a blood sample, but they also accept cheek swabs from the curious cat owner and responsible cat breeders.
The basic panel of this kit costs $45. It looks at some breed traits, namely markers for hair length and coat color, and screens for 4 health conditions.
Blood type and screening for diseases like PKD and Spinal Muscular Atrophy can be added to the basic panel for an additional $5 to $15.
This health-oriented feline DNA test kit comes from the DNA Diagnostics Center, a company that has been doing genetic testing for humans for over 20 years.
Orivet Cat DNA Health Screen & Life Plan test cats for 40 of the most common genetic diseases and traits. Results typically arrive within three weeks and include a “Life Plan” to help pet parents manage their feline’s care and plan vet appointments. You can buy it on Amazon.
EasyDNA Feline PKD Test
EasyDNA is a top genetics and DNA testing company in the US with over 15 years in the business.
EasyDNA’s Feline PKD test kit only tests for one feline genetic disease: polycystic kidney disease (PKD). This genetic test has a faster turnaround than Basepaws and other cat DNA test kit companies on the market, with an average of 10 days to get full results.
EasyDNA Feline PKD test kit costs $60.
Basepaws is one of the most full-featured at-home cat DNA test kits and is competitively priced. This cat DNA test kit is both a valuable tool for insight into feline health and is an amusing (and educational) look into what breeds may have a paw in making our kitty who they are.
We’re so excited to have the opportunity to try out a Basepaws cat DNA test kit on one of our team Lelu and Bobo cats, Paco! Be sure to check back to see the rest of our review!
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