Table of contents
- 7 Facts from our Basepaws Review
- Basepaws Introduction
- Review of Basepaws Claims
- Review of Basepaws Products
- Review of Basepaws Science
- Review of Basepaws Reports
- Basepaws Reviews
- Basepaws in the News
- Alternative Products
- Nebula Genomics
November 11, 2021
Edited by Christina Swords, Ph.D.
7 Facts from our Basepaws Review
- Research into cat genetics is relatively new
- Analyzing your cat’s DNA can be done in the same way a human
- A cheek swab is used, from which you can obtain your cat’s full genome (just like Nebula!)
- Some reviews question the value of the information you receive from a Basepaws cat DNA test
- Genetic testing can be useful to screen your cat for genetic diseases like polycystic kidney disease
- Price: $129-$399
- 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
Basepaws is 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 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, 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 to develop future products, like pet food and pet health coaching services.
Review of Basepaws Claims
Basepaws is a genetic testing service for your cat. Like many human services, they 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:
- Assess your cat’s breed, traits and ancestry, and
- 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 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.
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.
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 a breed visually. 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, they generate a genetic marker report that provides your cat’s particular health information. Knowing this information can help you make more informed health decisions for your pet.
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 and does not decode DNA.
In the following sections, we will discuss what you get out of each DNA testing tier. These services are summarized below.
|Features||Breed + Health||Whole Genome|
|Breed Report Updates||Yes||Yes|
|Breed Weight Estimate||Yes||Yes|
|Health Markers and Wellness Information||Yes||Yes|
|Whole Genome Sequencing||No||Yes|
|Health Marker Updates||No||Yes|
|Private Facebook Group||Yes||Yes|
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 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 it from saliva. This is one of the best ways to obtain a DNA sample, but not all cats will be excited to participate.
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 login to access their account and cat DNA report. The company provides a sample report based on the CEO’s assistant, Koko. The following sections describe the sections of the report in more detail.
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 Eastern, Western, 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. They note that similar genomic regions don’t necessarily indicate pedigree or ancestry but suggest there may be a link.
Several diseases are linked to genetic mutations. 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 as “At-Risk” or “At High Risk”. An example of the Basepaws report for a common disease is shown below.
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.
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 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 $270.
Basepaws reviews on Amazon.com has received a 4.5 out of 5 star rating with 858 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 email@example.com.
Basepaws in the News
- Shark Tank became a major investor. Basepaws lands deal from Shark Tank investors.
- This L.A. company has a ‘microbiome’ test for your cat’s teeth. Does it work? (Los Angeles Times, June 2021)
- Paw-some Breakthrough for Felines: The Basepaws Revolution is a take on how the company has revolutionized DNA testing for cats. (July 2021)
- Basepaws partners with Project 25 to extend cats’ lifespans. Project 25 has the mission of increasing pets’ lives by no less than 25% (August 2021)
- How This Founder Is Leading The Way In Feline DNA Testing To Improve Lives of Cats Around The World. A Forbes blog post from October 2021
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.
|Optimal Selection DNA (Wisdom Health)||$100||Aimed at breeders, only works for purebred cats, detailed health and breed information|
|CatDNAtest.org||$45||Very basic and requires specific knowledge about cat DNA. Cheek swab and blood samples required. Add-on tests are available|
|MyCatDNA||$115||Test for 40+ genetic diseases and 20+ traits. Includes breed group information and 1-year access to the breeder matchmaking system.|
|Orivet HomeDNA||Many options||Breed, genetic traits, common hereditary diseases, and ancestry profile. Targeted to vets and breeders, so perhaps too complicated for average consumers|
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.
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.