Basepaws was founded just four years ago. Despite its startup status, the company gained nationwide notoriety when its founder, Anna Skaya, convinced two notoriously picky SharkTank members to invest in her company. DNA tests for dogs were already quite popular but expanding it to cats was undoubtedly a smart move.
We all love our cats, but it may be challenging to define our furry friends’ true origin and breed, except those bought directly from breeders. Basepaws is here to fill the gap of at-home pet DNA tests and expand it to felines.
After all, there is no reason for cats not to benefit from the rapid progress of science when it comes to sequencing and ancestry analysis.
In this article, we will dive into the feline universe of Basepaws and check if Cat DNA tests will show the same promises and success as companies such as 23andme and MyancestryDNA.
What does the company offer?
Basepaws offers three different types of tests that cover numerous components for your cat’s health and ancestry.
Cat Dental Health Test
Cat Dental Health Test by BasePaws
Price when reviewed: $69.00
This test is devoted to the analysis of the cat’s oral microbiome. The aim is to identify microbial genetic signatures to detect early dental conditions such as periodontal disease, tooth resorption, and bad breath.
Dental health is not only critically important for humans but felines as well. Dental diseases can lead to chronic kidney diseases, cardiovascular disorders, or even diabetes without proper care.
By detecting microbial infections early, the test can detect more than 1,000 of them. It will become possible for veterinarians to prescribe the necessary treatment to keep your car healthy.
Breed and Health DNA Test
Breed and Health DNA Test by BasePaws
Price when reviewed: $129.00
Just as humans and dogs, cats carry their heredity within their genes. Basepaws rely on its unique database to provide information about your furry friend’s genetic make-up and history.
The ancient history of cats is fascinating. DNA analyses now assume that all modern cats derived from a panther-like predator in Southeast Asia nearly 11 million years ago.
Just as proto-humans migrated from Africa millions of years ago and left Africa to spread throughout the world, cats did the same, and several waves of migration finally gave rise to our sweet domestic cats. But, unfortunately, even though domestic cats are much less scary than saber-tigers, they still carry some mutations in their DNA.
Analyzing the DNA of a cat is just like looking at a genetic time machine, and this is the journey that Basepaws aims to discover. To know more about Cats’ genetic evolution, we strongly recommend reading the following article: “The Evolution of Cats” written by Drs. O’Brien and Johnson.
Basepaws offers what they call “the wild cat index.” During their long evolution, some cats inherited more or fewer genes from their wild feline ancestors. So based on the results of the sequencing of your furry companion, the company will use their database of genes to compare the genetic similarities between your kitty and its wild big-cat relative (Tiger, Leopard, Cheetah, Cougar).
You may look at your kitty differently after knowing that a tiger is still hidden in its genes! For cat lovers, the discovery is quite fascinating.
The test will also allow us to estimate the genetic similarities to 21 breeds and four regions. If your cat is not, as often a pure breed, the analysis will reveal the percentages your kitty shares with a Maine Coon, a Turkish Angora, or an Abyssinian.
Basepaws goes beyond the analysis of ancient DNA and relies on the presence of specific genes or mutations to provide a healthy genetic analysis. For example, the test allows us to analyze the risk associated with 16 diseases associated with 38 genetic markers.
Always check the results with your veterinarian. A genetic predisposition does not mean that your cat will develop the disease, but the results are always good to know, especially in species known for developing genetic conditions.
Whole Genome Test
Whole Genome Test by BasePaws
Price when reviewed: $399.00
Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) yields much more data than other genomic tools. The whole genome is read several times, using various probes, ultimately delivering a comprehensive analysis of the whole cat DNA.
The genome is covered at a 15x accuracy, meaning that each base is read at least 15 times using different probes. In combination, companies such as Nebula Genomics offer 30x accuracy for human genome analysis.
What is unique is that Basepaws offers the possibility to have access to a genetic advisor and a cat coach. The raw data are also accessible indefinitely and will benefit from the progress of bioinformatics and feline genomics.
On top of these services, the genome of your cat is sent back to you on a memory stick which potentially allows uploading to various bioinformatics services. This way, your kitty will always benefit from the most accurate analysis.
How does the test work?
All the tests offered by Basepaws or genetic analysis companies use the same principles. Once the test is ordered online, a sampling kit consisting of a cheek swab, specimen collection bag, and pre-paid return envelop is sent to you.
Once received, just nicely scrub the cheek of your cat to collect enough cells to extract a meaningful amount of DNA. The Identifying unique number of the kit will ensure proper tracking and privacy of the results.
After 4-6 weeks, the results are directly available online.
What can you learn?
Basepaws is truly a unique company devoted to cat genomic and aims to provide relevant information that will be informative, instructive, and potentially useful when talking to your vet.
We appreciate the possibility of fully sequencing our cat’s genome even though, as with any high-tech technology, the service comes at a relatively high price point.
The dental health test is exciting, but we favor using the breed and DNA health test. For $129, we do not doubt that you will know much more about your cat and will enjoy looking at him as a 20% tiger. In the end, we all love our pets, and we want the best for them.
Knowing more about their genome will open numerous doors, and we suspect that as the test will evolve and bioinformatics will become more and more accurate, the data acquired will become highly relevant in understanding the genes behind our cat behavior and health.
Check the demo report to know what you can expect.
To wrap up
Basepaws cached the favors of the sharks for a good reason. Their offering is unique, exciting, and valuable. Even though whole-genome sequencing may be a bit overrated, having the ability to know more about your cat’s origin and potential health problems carry a lot of value.
Pet DNA is becoming trendy, and we can understand why. But, always consider that the value of the test lies in the underlying database. Therefore, do not hesitate to talk to your veterinarians and ask what they think about such a test. We are convinced that their answer will be pretty positive and will reinforce the bond with your cat.
Why you should trust us
The author, Dr. J.C.Norreel, is a Neurobiologist and Geneticist by training. More than ten years ago, he oversaw the development process of one of the first DNA tests specifically devoted to Ancestry analysis using MassARRAY mass spectrometry, allowing a deep ancestry analysis of mtDNA, Y-DNA, and autosomal SNP test for less than $100. The best-priced test at the time.
As for humans’ ancestry and health analyses, the results are always as accurate as of the database that backup the analyses. Moreover, the database of Basepaws is continuously being updated with new markers and traits. Hence, the analysis will be more and more accurate as time goes by.
If, as we are, you are a cat lover, the Cat DNA test is undoubtedly worth it. DNA ancestry analysis is just like boarding a time machine. The discoveries made are always fascinating and surprising. As for the Health markers, always look at the results with a critical eye. Even if some conditions are easily identifiable using genetic markers, the results will always take percentages. We advise you to look at them as you listen to the weather forecast.
We all know that collecting DNA samples can be challenging in humans, dogs, or cats. However, the swab used by Basepaws are big enough to be comfortably used, and your kitty may even find it quite fun to chew on the cotton tip. Remember that the more cells you collect, the more DNA will be extracted and the more accurate the results.