Basepaws is one of the leading cat DNA test kits on the market today. Launched four years ago in 2016, Basepaws has quickly established itself as the 23 and Meow of at-home DNA test kits for cats.
It’s only from the recent rise in popularity of at-home DNA test kits, like Basepaws, that you no longer need to go out and get a PhD to get the scoop on the small (but mighty) chromosomes that make your kitty tick!
With Basepaws’s swab-and-ship style cat DNA test kits, you can get a deeper look at any breeds that may be hiding in your kitty’s genetics and a head’s up for any potentially life-threatening conditions or health problems they may have.
Basepaws is in the process of building a complete database to identify genetic markers for hereditary diseases, behavioral traits, and species and breed-specific diseases and mutations. That means your kitty’s DNA report will continue to change and evolve based on that!
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What is Basepaws?
Basepaws is a Los Angeles based feline genetics company with a two-pronged mission: to correct the imbalance between the canine and feline genetics research field and to build the biggest feline genomics database so we can better understand health and disease in cats.
Domesticated cats are still something of a mystery in the scientific community. So far, the largest genome sequencing project for cats, the 99 Lives Project, includes genes from just 200 cats. In comparison, the dog-based Dog10k Project includes a whopping 10,000 dogs and all of the world’s recognized dog breeds.
With Basepaws’ “CatKit” DNA test kits, the company aims to untangle the mysteries of what may cause certain conditions and traits in cats.
Basepaws is the first company to create and sell at-home DNA test kits for cats. By using cheek cell samples from our feline friends, Basepaws is able to give cat parents a fascinating and informative glimpse into their kitty’s origins and their health.
All of the data Basepaws gathers is amassed together in a database that intends to develop a larger picture of what causes diseases and health conditions in cats.
In some ways, Basepaws is a community and even collaborative effort! As the company continues to grow and more cat parents send in cheek swabs of their kitty’s DNA the more effectively Basepaws will be able to contribute to the larger world of veterinary science and feline health.
This means that your own kitty’s health report will continually be updated as Basepaws gathers more information. Your kitty’s results aren’t a “one and done” screening.
When did Basepaws hit the at-home DNA test kit scene?
In 2016 cat lover, entrepreneur, and UCLA graduate Anna Skaya dreamed up Basepaws as a way to help cat parents learn more about their kitty’s health.
Having founded and successfully run a human DNA test company back in 2012 for several years, Skaya shifted gears and opted to try her hand at decoding feline DNA. Skaya even 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.
23 and Meow
Basepaws’s founder Anna Skaya envisioned her cat DNA test kit company as a “23andMe” for cats except for cats only have 19 pairs of chromosomes. So instead, Skaya went with “Basepaws” for her kitty DNA company.
Basepaws is on a mission to decode those chromosomes and the genetic markers that may be harboring diseases and medical conditions in cats.
Is Basepaws credible?
While cat DNA test kits are still very new, if you opt to use Basepaws to satisfy your kitty (genetic) curiosity, you’re in good paws…er… hands!
The Basepaws scientific team is helmed by Oxford-educated geneticist and company Chief Operating Officer (COO) Damian Kao. Kao oversees a team of five of some of the brightest and most esteemed scientists and geneticists in the field. These scientists and researchers are the ones who decode your kitty’s DNA and generate the 30-page report that Basepaws creates for each cat.
Things to consider before buying a cat DNA test kit
How can I tell if my cat is purebred?
First, it’s important to know that cat breeds alone are essentially in their infancy. Unlike purebred dogs, many cat breeds are less than 100 years old. This means that it’s far more likely for cats to have multiple breeds in their ancestry.
Keeping this in mind, Basepaws doesn’t merely look at individual breeds 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 breed groups include breeds like Burmese, Oriental Shorthair, and Birman cats. While Western breeds include Ragdolls, Maine Coons, Lykoi, and Siberian cats.
Mixed breed cats, or moggies, as they’re so fondly referred to across the pond in the UK, have wildly diverse backgrounds. If snapshots of cat genetics were manifested as art, they’d be the “Jackson Pollock” paintings of the genetics world.
Basepaws is transparent on their website that their cat DNA test kits are not intended to be used to confirm cat’s pedigrees. In other words, Basepaws isn’t a breed identifier. The test kit is designed to look at genetic similarities between some of the most commonly recognized breeds of cats as well as to gauge your kitty’s genetic similarity to big cats like tigers, leopards, and cougars with the wildcat index percentage.
What does a cat DNA test tell you?
At its most basic level, cat DNA tests decode your kitty’s genome. Cat DNA test kits like Basepaws use an ever-growing database of feline genetics to determine whether 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 simply a novelty to see if there are any purebred genetics hiding in their little kitty codes.
Cat DNA test kits are also very effective tools to get a reading on your kitty’s health. By picking up on your kitty’s 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 about 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.
How much are Basepaws 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, which is about the same as a basic Ancestry DNA and 23andMe DNA test kit for humans.
Basepaws also includes a slightly more comprehensive report that costs $149. This includes all of the information from the basic kit but instead of just a general health overview, this kit gives a more thorough health screening and continually updates the results of your kitty’s DNA report as their database grows.
The most detailed Basepaws cat DNA test kit clocks out at $599. This kit features your cat’s whole genome sequence and all of the raw data decoded by Basepaws geneticists. This kit also includes the most detailed health report.
What cat DNA test kits does Basepaws sell?
Basepaws offers three “CatKits”:
- Basepaws Breed Groups DNA Test [Buy Now] : this kit exclusively looks at which of the 4 main breed groups (and 21 individual breeds) in Basepaws’s database appear in your cat’s DNA. Along with that easy to read chromosome map, this kit also includes a “wild cat index” that determines what big cats, like snow leopards or tigers, match your kitty’s DNA.
- Basepaws Breed and Health DNA Test [Buy Now] : 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 [Buy Now] : this kit includes everything from the Breed Groups and Breed and Health DNA kits. What makes this kit unique (and cost 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 cat
What do Basepaws Cat DNA reports include?
- 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: Here’s where Basepaws really shines. 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 seriously concerning diseases and illnesses that this health screening portion of the report 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
- Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative Syndrome (ALPS): enlarged lymphatic nodes and spleen that is often fatal
- And 13 other genetic diseases
What are cat parents saying about Basepaws Cat DNA Testing?
“Basepaws allows those who have a cat companion insight into the background of their friend that may explain some things about them! Also VERY handy is the Health aspect of the test. Vital clues to help keep your cat as healthy as they can be.” Patrick C. on Basepaws.com
“The main reason I got [a Basepaws] kit was for the health markers. I bought the kit after my sister’s seemingly healthy, young, and active cat suddenly died. We suspect HCM as the cause and there were no noticeable symptoms leading up to her sudden death. Early this year I received Katniss’ health markers and discovered she has a moderate risk of HCM. She is 4 years old and we are now working with her vet to monitor and track any changes so we can see if there is any development and treat her early on if needed. This report has given us the ability to be proactive about her health and potentially prevent another tragic incident.” Megan C. on Basepaws.com
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.
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 “curious pet owners” and “responsible breeders”.
The basic panel of this kit costs $45. It looks at some breed traits, namely markers for hair length and color, and screens for 4 health conditions.
Blood type and screening for diseases like PKD and Spinal Muscular Atrophy can be added on to the basic panel for an additional $5 to $15.
This health-oriented cat 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 tests cats for 40 of the most common genetic diseases and traits. Results typically arrive within three weeks and include a “Life Plan” to help cat 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 test kit 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 not only one of the most full-featured at-home cat DNA test kits, it’s also 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!