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What Is Basepaws Cat DNA Test? How Does It Work?
Have you ever wondered what cat breeds make up your pet you found in a dumpster? For people with a cat that didn’t come from a breeder, it can be difficult to know what to expect out of your cat’s long-term health. Even if your cat did come from a breeder, knowing what conditions your cat may be at risk for developing can be of benefit. It is also a lot of fun to find out more about your cat’s genetics. Basepaws has heard our cries for answers and provided a solution.
Basepaws is a company that offers a test kit that you can use at home to easily get a DNA sample from your cat’s saliva and send it off for processing and analysis. While no pet DNA tests are 100% accurate at this point, Basepaws is constantly updating their database to whittle down the specifics of each cat breed. The more people who submit DNA samples from their kitties to Basepaws, the more accurate the database will become.
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Basepaws – A Quick Look
Basepaws updated its pricing in 2022 in order to keep up with the increased expenses associated with running these complex tests. The Breed + Health Cat DNA Test is $159, while the Cat Oral Health Test is currently $99. The most comprehensive option Basepaws offers (Whole Genome Sequencing) runs for $499.
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What to Expect From the Basepaws Cat DNA Test
When you visit the Basepaws website, you’ll be able to select which test or tests you’d like sent to you. You’ll pay for the test at the time of ordering, and within a few days, you’ll receive your kit. The kit includes easy-to-follow instructions that will have your cat’s saliva sample in the mail in no time flat.
Each kit includes a prepaid mailing label that will return your cat’s salvia sample to Basepaws within a few days, and then the processing and sequencing will begin. Once you’ve paid upfront for your cat’s kits, there are no additional charges to you. The current Basepaws processing time is 4–6 weeks.
Once your cat’s DNA has been processed and sequenced, you will receive a detailed report with all of your cat’s information. The type of test you order will determine how much information you receive, but the reports are colorful, easy to follow, and full of information to help you better understand the scientific side of this testing.
|Turnaround time:||4–6 weeks|
|Swab timeframe:||5–10 seconds|
|Current tests:||Breed + Health Cat DNA Test, Cat Oral Health Test, Whole Genome Sequencing|
Easy to Use
When you receive your Basepaws kit, you’ll likely be tickled to see just how simple the process will be for you. Follow the simple instructions to properly identify and label your kit and your cat’s saliva sample. If all of the proper identifiers are not present, your cat’s report will not be returned to you. Swab your cat’s mouth with the included swab for 5–10 seconds, place the swab in the included sample container, and ship your kit with the saliva sample back to Basepaws using the pre-paid mailing label.
Basepaws will keep you updated every step of the way, providing updates on when your sample is received when processing and sequencing begin, and when your report is ready to be read. The included report contains lots of information about your cat’s DNA, and the information breakdown is easy to follow and understand.
The Science Behind It
The Whole Genome Sequencing test from Basepaws uses high-depth whole genome sequencing science, which is currently the gold standard for DNA sequencing. While this sequencing breaks down your cat’s entire genome, most pet DNA tests will only decode approximately 0.01%–0.02% of your cat’s genome.
The Breed + Health DNA test doesn’t provide a full genomic breakdown, but it does compare your cat’s DNA against multiple known genetic markers specific to domestic cats. These genetic markers can be specific to certain breeds or breeds from certain regions, or they can be markers known to show a risk of developing or carrying certain medical conditions.
The Cat Oral Health test is the least involved test offered by Basepaws at this time. It tests your cat’s mouth swab for microorganisms, giving you a clear picture of your cat’s oral microbiome. This can be used to identify active signs of periodontal disease, tooth resorption, and halitosis, as well as your cat’s risk of developing these diseases.
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Basepaws reports their test turnaround time to be approximately 4–6 weeks (longer during holiday season) , except for the Whole Genome Sequencing test, which can take up to 9 weeks. Based on holdups in the Basepaws lab, it is possible that your cat’s test will take longer than the estimated amount of time. For the Whole Genome Sequencing test, you will receive the digital report received with the other tests, but you will also receive a thumb drive containing your cat’s entire genome sequence, so this information won’t be immediately received like the digital copies of the other tests.
Is the Basepaws Cat DNA Test Good Value?
Basepaws tests do cost a pretty penny for the average person, especially if you are living on a tight budget. The value of these tests comes with the complex science behind the tests that are performed and their potential benefit to the overall health and well-being of your cat.
Since some of the markers are still not an exact science and not all present DNA markers are guaranteed to lead to a condition developing, these tests shouldn’t be used as the be-all and end-all of your cat’s healthcare. However, knowing what conditions your cat may be at risk of developing can help you know what to watch for that your cat may be at risk for and get an early diagnosis. It can also help you determine if your cat should be bred or not since carriers of most known disorders should not be bred.
FAQ: Basepaws Cat DNA Test Kit
If I forget to register my cat’s kit, will I still receive the test results?
It’s very unlikely since the kit registration directly connects your kit to your cat’s sample. If this step is missed, it makes it difficult for Basepaws to determine which customer the received kit and sample belong to.
Does the Basepaws database include all known domestic cat breeds?
No, but they are updating the database regularly. Currently, there are over 20 breeds that are in the Basepaws database, as well as 4 breed regions. You can learn more about Basepaws’ breed library here.
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Our Experience With Basepaws
When we received our Basepaws Breed + Health Cat DNA Test, we chose to use our cat Nutmeg for the swab. Nutmeg is the youngest of our three cats, and arguably the one we know the least about genetically and health-wise because she is under a year old. Her lynx point coat, long body, blue eyes, and overall small stature and weight made us believe she might have some Siamese in her, although she is certainly not talkative like a Siamese.
We also chose Nutmeg for testing because she has struggled with eye issues since she was born. After months of various treatments, she saw a veterinary ophthalmologist who diagnosed her with symblepharon, which is a condition that causes the eyelids to fuse to the eyes themselves. It can be caused by multiple things, including being a hereditary condition. We were curious to see if there would be anything that came up on the health part of the test to indicate that Nutmeg might be prone to other eye conditions throughout her life.
Nutmeg is not a big fan of being held, but with one of us holding her and the other swabbing her, we were finished before she could get too upset. The instructions were easy to understand and everything went off without a hitch, from swabbing to returning the sample to Basepaws. Unfortunately, we did have to reach out to Basepaws after the sixth week because her results still were not back. We were informed that there had been a failed batch of tests in the lab and they were unsure if her test was among them. Thankfully, we received her results the next day. Customer service was prompt and as helpful as they could be, but there seemed to be a distinct disconnect in the information flow between customer service and the lab.
The test results were enjoyable to read, although no indications of eye problems showed up. In fact, Nutmeg’s risk for all of the conditions tested for was overall pretty low. Of course, we won’t know if this is accurate or not for another 10 years or so.
The most exciting part of the test results was seeing what breeds could make up Nutmeg’s DNA. We were extremely surprised to learn that our 7-pound, short-haired, petite kitten came back with the greatest percentage of Maine Coon. The general results of her breed test essentially came back with her being a mutt of a cat.
One of her breeds was the Egyptian Mau, a breed with which she does share notable traits, like her coat pattern and length, small size, and love of playing fetch. On the other hand, I don’t know of too many rare Egyptian Mau cats roaming the streets of Arkansas. The primary thing we came away with from this test was information taken with a grain of salt.
Basepaws has unique and fun products that make it easier to get to know our cats better. There are some limitations on their testing abilities at this time, though, with the biggest being the lack of full genome sequencing for every cat breed in large enough numbers for a sample size of each. This does mean that the results of the tests may be accurate, but just how accurate is very difficult to say.
This is a fun investment that may prove beneficial if your cat shows a distinct genetic risk for certain conditions, or if you get a clear breed answer about your cat. If you have some extra money you’re looking to spend on something unique and enjoyable, then ordering a Basepaws kit for your cat could be a neat way to spend it.