DNA = deoxyribonucleic acid = the molecule that contains all the genetic information about who we are. If you’ve ever watched a crime show you’ve heard that term when the detective is trying to catch the criminal by looking for their DNA. But for cats? Join me in a Basepaws review where we discover the how, what and why around testing your cat’s DNA!
*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links, I will get a small commission at NO additional cost to you. It’s a cool company with cool info to share about your cat, which is why I’m reviewing it on my blog.
A Basepaws Review: What IS Basepaws?
Basepaws is a pet genetics company founded in 2017. They have created super easy, at-home screening tools for various genetic diseases in pets. Have you ever heard about any diseases in humans that individuals may be more at risk for? Certain types of breast cancer, for example, are more common in people with a genetic predisposition.
The same goes for our pets. And because we’re here to talk cats, did you know that Basepaws created the world’s first home-test for feline DNA? Pretty cool.
After my cancer diagnosis I was invited to participate in a genetic study analyzing my ethnic background (it was pretty accurate!) as well as various disease risks. I had to spit in a tube, which was not as easy as you think. Thankfully the Basepaws process is much easier than that!
A Basepaws Review: What diseases can we test cats for?
Basepaws offers three different options for DNA testing:
1 – Basepaws Oral Health Test for Cats assess and provides a “Risk Score” for periodontal disease and tooth resorption (link). Tooth resorption is one of the most common diseases I see in my feline-only practice… literally every day I have patients with these painful dental lesions requiring extensive dental treatment.
The cost for the Oral Health Test as of 10/23 is $99, but they regularly have coupons available. Check my Facebook page for the latest coupon.
2 – Basepaws Breed + Health DNA test evaluates your cat’s breed information, risk for 43 (!) different diseases AND everything in #1 (the oral health test). You get to learn your cat’s breed composition and what the traits of those breeds are. Many of our cats are what we like to call “Domestic” cats. But the domestic cat is a mix and somewhere down the line your cat came from a specific breed.
The diseases tested for include everything from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (the most common heart disease in cats) to Polycystic Kidney Disease. Yes, you get ALL the info!
Currently $159, this is the test we performed on our amazing hospital-cat Panther.
3 – Whole Genome Sequencing for Cats – this is also a combo of #1 and #2 PLUS access to the data on a USB drive, health and breed updates for life and a 1-hour consultation with a feline genetics coach.
For $499 you get the whole shebang.
A Basepaws Review: What’s the process? What’s involved?
First you create your account and register online. Then you get a test kit in the mail which contains a cotton swab. As for sample collections, Basepaws says “Simply swab and send. We will do the rest.”
Ha! Panther said he didn’t need anyone swabbing his mouth and did it for us. He literally grabbed the cotton tipped applicator and began to chew on it, getting teeth, gums and everything in between. He’s such an amazing cat! You can read more about him in the Meowbox subscription review that he wrote!
That is 100% true. It couldn’t have been easier. We then submitted the sample in a prepaid envelope, then got the results online in about a month.
The Day We Waited For: Panther’s results!
Panther received a 68(!) page Genetic Report detailing four categories: Breed Groups, Oral Health, Health Markers and Trait Markers.
Breed info: Panther is 97% “Western,” 4% “Eastern” and 3% “Exotic.” Each of those divisions are further defined. For example, the “Western” portion lists the percentages of various breeds, from a low of 2% Russian Blue to a high of 32% Broadly Western. We all came from somewhere and, like Panther, most of us are a motley mix of origins. I’d love to see the results on a “pure bred” cat!
His oral microbiome results showed a low risk for both periodontal disease and tooth resorption – whew! Everyone at our clinic was relieved to hear that. We see terrible dental disease on a daily basis and were glad that Panther’s risk was determined to be minimal.
He was also tested for 43 different “Health Markers” such as endocrine disorders, eye diseases, autoimmune disorders and cardiac diseases. He was noted to be clear (not even a “carrier” on all of them. Besides being a carrier, other possible options include “At Risk” or “At High Risk.”
What do you do with this information? As a veterinarian, if a cat came back as high risk for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, for example, I might perform a specific blood test and/or echocardiogram for baseline screening purposes that I could then monitor over time.
Panther was noted to likely be Blood Type A, based on his genotype. Yes! Panther IS blood type A! We know this because he’s a blood donor for our clinic. My Basepaws review gives an A+ for knowing that he was likely Type A!
Cats have 3 blood types: A, B and AB. If your cat is anything other than “A” (the most common type) that would be ideal to know ahead of time.
Finally, Panther was tested for 22 different Trait Markers and determined “likely to have” two of them. These two traits were 1) having a black coat color (Yes! He’s a beautiful pitch black) and 2) having a long-haired coat (Nope. He’s a short haired cat).
Remember this is not an exact description. It’s looking at the DNA of traits. It’s not perfect. My genetic test results said that I was likely to be very tolerant to caffeine which couldn’t be further from the truth! Nonetheless, the whole picture is great info to have.
Basepaws is a cool company that cares about the health and well being of our pets. Having more information about our cat’s health is always a good thing because knowledge = power… the power to be proactive and make informed decisions. Hopefully this Basepaws review will encourage you to take that step and learn more about your cat’s health.
Have you had your cat’s DNA tested? What were the results? Come back to this Basepaws review post and let me know.