Basepaws review – What’s hiding in your cat’s DNA?

basepaws-review

Basepaws Review Summary

Basepaws offers DNA tests for cats that determine the breed and provide health insight. Learn more in our Basepaws review!

Nebula Genomics

Results
Price
Interface

Summary

Basepaws is a genetic testing company that analyzes the DNA of cats for traits, ancestry, and disease risks. It is offered at a reasonable price, but other reviewers indicate the data set used to generate reports is smaller than expected.

4.5

Edited by Christina Swords, Ph.D.

7 Facts from our Basepaws Review

  1. Research into cat genetics is relatively new compared to human and dog
  2. Analyzing your cat’s DNA sample can be done in the same way a human sample is done
  3. A cheek swab is used, from which you can obtain your cat’s full genome (just like Nebula!)
  4. Some Basepaws reviews question how valuable the information you receive from a Basepaws cat DNA test is
  5. Genetic testing can be useful to screen your cat for genetic diseases like polycystic kidney disease
  6. Originally marketed as the Basepaws catkit
  7. Before buying a DNA test for your cat, you should sequence your own genome! Nebula Genomics offers the most affordable Whole Genome Sequencing that decodes 100% of your DNA.

Basepaws Introduction

This is a review of Basepaws, a consumer genetics test for cats started by Anna Skaya in 2016. Like human DNA testing, Basepaws’ goal is to provide ancestry (breed) information and screening for genetic mutations that could increase the risk of disease.

Basepaws markets itself as the first company of its kind, providing direct to consumer cat DNA sequencing. In 2016, they received funding from two investors on the TV show Shark Tank to develop their business. Basepaws is currently located in El Segundo, California, United States. A large part of their business model is data collection, which they intend to use for the development of future products, like pet food and pet health coaching services.

Basepaws charges $599 for a Whole Genome Sequencing of your cat. At Nebula Genomics we offer the most affordable way to sequence your genome! This is the most comprehensive DNA test that will empower you to get deep insight into your ancestry and receive new reports every week that are based on the latest scientific discoveries!

Review of Basepaws Claims

Basepaws is a DNA testing service for your cat. Like many human services, Basepaws can sequence your cat’s DNA from a simple cheek swab (watch out for those teeth). By analyzing your cat’s genetic information, Basepaws claims to:

  1. Assess your cat’s breed traits and ancestry, and
  2. Screen your cat for potential health problems

Both the breed and health information are organized into several different categories. 

Breed Information and Wild Cat Index

A Basepaws report gives you information on your cat’s heritage and ancestry by comparing its genetic information to known breeds. It can brake your cat’s breed into categories such as American shorthair, Maine Coon, etc. This information can be used to discover what mix of breeds your cat may be. It also lets them identify what type of wild cat (cheetah, cougar, leopard, tiger ) your cat is most like. 

From the sample report provided by Basepaws, we see that Koko is most like a tiger. Rawr.
From the sample report provided by Basepaws, we see that Koko is most like a tiger. Rawr.

The genetic information of your cat will not change. But as we learn more about cats, the interpretation of data may change. As more breed-based information is added to Basepaws’ database, your cat’s report is automatically updated. 

Health Information

Knowing your cat’s breed can tell you if it’s predisposed to certain genetic diseases. Without a DNA test, many owners and vets try to assess your cat to a breed visually. This determination can be hard since most cats are mixed breeds, genetically similar to several different breeds. 

By analyzing your cat’s DNA and genetic markers, Basepaws looks at the genes that are linked to certain diseases. From this, they generate a genetic marker report that provides you with a personalized health report. Knowing this information can help you make more informed health decisions for your pet.

Like the breed information, our understanding of feline health is continuing to grow. With the Breed + Health Test and Full Genome Test, your cat’s report is updated as Basepaws learns more about feline genetics.

Review of Basepaws Products

Basepaw offers three services at different price points. All of the features of lower-priced services are included in the higher tiers. In the following sections, we will discuss what you get out of each tier. These services are summarized below.

FeaturesBreed GroupsBreed + HealthFull Genome
Breed GroupsYesYesYes
Chromosome MapYesYesYes
Wildcat IndexYesYesYes
Breed Report UpdatesYesYesYes
Breed Weight EstimateYesYesYes
Health Markers and Wellness InformationNoYesYes
Whole Genome SequencingNoNoYes
Health Marker UpdatesNoNoYes
Private Facebook GroupYesYesYes
Price$99$149$599

You may want to compare costs with other companies that sell pet DNA tests as well.

Review of Basepaws Science

As the price of genetic sequencing drops, consumer testing becomes more affordable and more common. Increased access to this technology also means that there are more opportunities for companies to offer unique services. 

Basepaws uses the same genetic testing techniques that other companies use to analyze human DNA. While most research is focused on the human genome, limited studies have contributed to the field of feline genetics. Although the information on the feline genome may be limited, Basepaws incorporates new research to update their reports. 

The first step is to register your cat DNA test kit online. Registration allows the lab to identify which sample is your cat’s when they receive it at their lab. 

The next step is to collect your cat’s sample. Just like Nebula Genomics, Basepaws uses a cheek swab method to collect your cat’s sample. This is one of the best ways to obtain a DNA sample, but not all cats will be excited to participate.

A screenshot from Basepaws’ how-to cheek swab video. The cheek swab appears much easier than collecting a vial of cat saliva.
A screenshot from Basepaws’ how-to cheek swab video. The cheek swab appears much easier than collecting a vial of cat saliva.

Once you have collected your cat’s sample, it is sent back using the pre-paid return shipping provided by Basepaws. After that, your report should be ready for you in a couple of weeks (advertised 4-6 weeks).

Review of Basepaws Reports

Customers can use their Basepaws login to access their account and cat DNA report. Basepaws provides a sample report based on the CEO’s assistant, Koko. The following sections describe the sections of the report in more detail.

Breed Reports

Cat owners know that all of the cats in the world are unique (especially theirs). Based on all cats’ genetic similarity, their traits can be divided into four foundational breed groups. These groups are Eastern, Western, Persian, and Exotic. These groups are divided further into specific breeds like Burmese, Ragdoll, Himalayan, and Egyptian Mau.

It’s unlikely a domestic cat falls 100% into any one of these categories. In general, most cats will be a blend of all four. 

The breed report also contains a personalized Chromosome Map. Cats have 1 sex chromosome and 18 autosomal (non-sex related) chromosome pairs. Basepaws looks at specific regions of these chromosomes and compares them to different breed groups and breeds. They note that similar genomic regions don’t necessarily indicate pedigree or ancestry, but suggest there may be a link.

A sample Chromosome Map from a Basepaws Report. The lettered and numbered strips correspond to chromosome pairs, and the colors correspond to similarity with specific breed groups.
A sample Chromosome Map from a Basepaws Report. The lettered and numbered strips correspond to chromosome pairs, and the colors correspond to similarity with specific breed groups.

Genetic Health

Several diseases are linked to genetic mutations. For each disease reported, Basepaws reports your cat as being Clear, Carrier, At Risk, or At High Risk. They recommend you consult a vet if any of these disease markers come back as “At-Risk” or “At High Risk”. An example of the Basepaws report for a common disease is shown below.

An example of reported disease from Basepaws.

Whole Genome Sequencing

One thing that sets Nebula Genomics apart from other human DNA testing companies is our ability to sequence your whole genome. Typical DNA tests only sequence a small amount of genetic material, usually corresponding to the areas we know about most. Yet, this leaves ignores the vast majority of your (or your cat’s) genome.

Most DNA tests only decode 0.02% of your DNA

Like Nebula Genomics, Basepaws brings full genetic sequencing to the cat world. Minimal research into the whole cat genome makes it unclear how this extra data can be used. However, Basepaws intends to update customers’ reports as they learn more about these regions. Consumers will have to judge for themselves if the promise of more information in the future is worth the extra $450.

Basepaws Reviews

Basepaws reviews on Amazon.com: 4.5/5 with 262 reviews 

(Currently on sale for $129 , 2 for $194, or 3 for $259)

Customer reviews of Basepaws on Amazon.

Amazon reviews for Basepaws’ Breed + Health test are generally positive. Most identify this product as fun or interesting but not particularly useful. Most of the negative reviews identify Basepaws as only having a small amount of data to work with. This could make the results inaccurate.

Basepaws reviews on dnaTestingChoice.com: 5/5 with 20 reviews

Reviews on dnaTestingChoice.com were favorable, with most Basepaws reviews claiming the process was very simple. Negative Basepaws reviews were due to slow processing times.

Basepaws review on Wired.com: 6/10 (Gear Review by Christopher Null)

Like other Basepaws reviews, Wired picked up on Basepaws’ small data set. 

If customers have questions, they can either call (415) 634-PETS or email customer service at meow@basepaws.com.

Basepaws in the News

For Basepaws, Shark Tank became a major investor. Basepaws lands deal from Shark Tank investors.

Cats Now Have 10 Lives: Basepaws Launches Highly-Anticipated New Health Report (PRweb.com, 2019)

Alternative Products

The cat genetics market is still quite small, but there are several alternative products available. Some are marketed to everyday consumers, while some are intended for breeders and vets. Below is a table of some of the more popular services.

ProductPriceFeatures
Optimal Selection DNA (Wisdom Health) $100Aimed at breeders, only works for purebred cats, detailed health and breed information
CatDNAtest.org$45Very basic and requires specific knowledge about cat DNA. Cheek swab and blood samples required. Add-on tests are available.
MyCatDNA$100Test for 40+ genetic diseases and 20+ traits. Includes breed group information and 1-year access to the breeder matchmaking system.
Orivet HomeDNAMany optionsBreed, genetic traits, common hereditary diseases, breed and ancestry profile. Targeted to vets and breeders, so perhaps too complicated for average consumers.

Nebula Genomics

We finish our Basepaws review with a look at Nebula Genomics.

Nebula Genomics doesn’t perform cat DNA testing, but we do offer the most secure and complete genetic testing for humans. This is comparable to the Full Genome test offered by Basepaws, but for humans.

Our 30x Whole Genome Sequencing sample collection is safe, simple, affordable, and comprehensive. The results are processed in CLIA/CAP-accredited laboratories, and all of your data remains secure and yours. 

Nebula Genomics also helps customers make sense of all their data. We provide customers with a large, constantly updated research library that will help you make sense of your genetic code. We also have a host of DNA exploration tools and ancestry discovery. 

If you are interested in obtaining medical advice, you need access to your own data. With our service, it’s easy to bring your test results to your physician or genetic counselor. We include several industry-standard file types (FASTQ, BAM, VCF), allowing you to get the most out of your test. As always, individuals who believe they are at risk for a genetic disorder should consult a healthcare provider before getting tested. For more information on genetic sequencing technology, check out our Intro to DNA Testing Methods.

Other ways to get your pet’s DNA tested are Embark or Wisdom Panel, which both offer DNA testing for your dog.

Did you like our Basepaws review? You can read more reviews on our blog and check out our complete guide to the best DNA test kit and other home tests.