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

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

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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

7 Facts from our Basepaws Review

  1. Research into cat genetics is relatively new
  2. Analyzing your cat’s DNA can be done in the same way a human’s is
  3. A cheek swab is used, after which you register your kit and obtain your cat’s full genome
  4. Some reviews question the value of the information you receive from a Basepaws cat DNA test
  5. Genetic testing can be useful to screen your cat for genetic diseases like polycystic kidney disease
  6. Price: $129-$399
  7. If you are planning to buy a DNA test for your cat, how about sequencing your genome too! Nebula Genomics offers the most affordable Whole Genome Sequencing that decodes 100% of your DNA

This review is written with the intent to be as unbiased as possible. However, it represents the opinion of an individual reviewer and is therefore subjective. Furthermore, at Nebula Genomics we seek to educate the public about the benefits of Whole Genome Sequencing. Information about our Whole Genome Sequencing DNA test is therefore incorporated into the review.

July 25, 2022

November 11, 2021

Edited by Christina Swords, Ph.D.

Basepaws Introduction

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

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

Basepaws charges $399 for a Whole Genome Sequencing of your cat. At Nebula Genomics we offer an even more affordable way to sequence your genome! This is the most comprehensive DNA test. It will empower you to get deep insight into your ancestry and receive regularly updated reports based on the latest scientific discoveries!

Review of Basepaws Claims

Basepaws is a genetic testing service for pet owners and their cats. Like many human services, it 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 their genetic information to known breeds. It can break your cat’s breed into categories such as American shorthair, Maine Coon, etc. Want more info on your furry friends? You can check mainecoonlover.club which is a website dedicated to Maine Coons.

This information can be used to discover what mix of breeds your cat may be. It also lets you identify what type of wild cat (cheetah, cougar, leopard, tiger ) your cat is mostly like. 

Basepaws sample report section with a snippet on details about tigers and how the user's cat DNA was compared to that of a tiger
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 they’re predisposed to certain genetic diseases. Without a DNA test, many owners and vets try to assess cat breed by physical characteristics. Unfortunately, this determination can be challenging since most cats are mixed breeds genetically similar to several different breeds. 

Basepaws looks at the genes that are linked to certain diseases by analyzing your cat’s DNA and genetic markers. From this, it generates a genetic marker report that provides your cat’s particular health information. Knowing this information can help you make more informed health decisions.

Like the breed information, our understanding of feline health continues 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 Breed + Health services are included in the Whole Genome tier. The Dental Health Test is a screening that seeks to find potential dental conditions that may hurt your cat’s health.

In the following sections, we will discuss what you get out of each DNA testing tier. These services are summarized below.

FeaturesBreed + HealthWhole Genome
Breed GroupsYesYes
Chromosome MapYesYes
Wildcat IndexYesYes
Breed Report UpdatesYesYes
Breed Weight EstimateYesYes
Health Markers and Wellness InformationYesYes
Whole Genome SequencingNoYes
Health Marker UpdatesNoYes
Private Facebook GroupYesYes
Price$129$399
A comparison of the DNA tests

The Oral Health Test is Basepaws’s newest product. This test identifies active signs of periodontal disease, tooth resorption, and bad breath. Due to changes in food, liquids, and other external factors, Basepaws recommends regular testing.

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 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 its reports. 

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

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

A screenshot from Basepaw's how-to cheek swab video of a woman using a swab to collect a saliva sample from her cat
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 in a couple of weeks (advertised 4-6 weeks).

Review of Basepaws Reports

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

Breed reports

Cat owners know that all 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 Western, Eastern, Persian, and Exotic. Furthermore, these four primary groups are divided into specific breeds like Burmese, Ragdoll, Himalayan, and Egyptian Mau.

It’s unlikely for a domestic cat to fall 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 one 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. It notes that similar genomic regions don’t necessarily indicate pedigree or ancestry but suggest a link.

Table with ancestry percentage and a chromosome map
The lettered and numbered strips in this Chromosome map correspond to chromosome pairs, and the colors correspond to similarity with specific breed groups.

Genetic health

Basepaws reports your cat as being Clear, Carrier, At Risk, or At High Risk. For some owners, they can get peace of mind that their pet is at a lower risk of an unexpected disease. The company recommends you consult a vet if any of these disease markers come back showing increased likelihood of a disease. An example of the Basepaws report for a common disease is shown below.

Screenshot of Polycystic kidney disease description, gene, and the negative status of the tested cat
Sample result for polycystic kidney disease

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 ignores the vast majority of your genome.

Banner for Nebula Genomics
Most DNA companies only decode a small portion of your DNA

Like Nebula Genomics for humans, Basepaws brings complete genetic sequencing to the cat world. In the case of the latter, though, 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 it learns more about these regions. Consumers will have to judge for themselves if the promise of more information in the future is worth the extra $270.

Basepaws Reviews

Basepaws has received a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon.com with over one-thousand ratings.

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

Reviews on dnatestingchoice.com were favorable, with most reviews claiming that the process was straightforward. Negative comments were due to slow processing times.

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.

A Basepaws review written by a single reviewer on Wired.com gave the test a 6/10.

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

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$115Test 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, and ancestry profile. Targeted to vets and breeders, so perhaps too complicated for average consumers

Nebula Genomics

Nebula Genomics doesn’t perform cat DNA testing, but we offer the most secure and complete genetic testing for humans.

Our 30x Whole Genome Sequencing sample collection is safe, simple, affordable, and comprehensive. Our Whole Genome Sequencing data provides detailed genetic and health insights and can be used by physicians and genetic counselors.

Nebula Genomics also helps customers make sense of all their data. We provide an extensive, 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 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.

Getting back to our furry friends, you may be interested in Embark, Wisdom Panel, DNA My Dog, and Paw Print Genetics, which are DNA tests for dogs.

You may also be interested in specialty designed pet food, treats, and supplements from Ultimate Pet Nutrition!

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.