Have you ever wondered about the genetic makeup of your feline friend? With the advancements in DNA technology, it is now possible to unlock the secrets of your cat’s genetic code. And that’s where Basepaws comes in. I recently tried it out with my new kitten, Leia. Keep reading to find out in my complete Basepaws Cat DNA Test review to see how it works!
Just a quick note before diving in- Basepaws sent me a complementary kit to try out with Leia. We also included affiliate links in this post. If you buy anything through them, TechnoMeow earns a commission at no extra cost to you.
What is Basepaws and how does it work?
As I’m sure you’ve already surmised from the title of this post, Basepaws is a cat DNA test. Like human DNA tests (think 23andMe or Ancestry), it’s designed to give you insight into your cat’s ancestral background.
Basepaws does more than just tell you your cat’s breed, though. It also gives you an amazingly in-depth overview of kitty’s health markers. It scans for more than 60 different genetic conditions ranging from heart conditions like Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy to renal disorders like Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).
While there are cat DNA tests with larger breed databases (although Basepaws’ database grows larger every year), very few- if any- are as complete when it comes to health markers. Learning about these health markers are particularly important when, like me, you rescue cats from a feral population.
Ferals and strays live VERY hard lives. Leia tragically lost both of her siblings to a genetic heart condition that runs rampant through my colony. So, the extended health markers feature was very important to me.
Let’s very quickly go over some of the key features of Basepaws. Then, we’ll dive into a closer look at Leia’s DNA test so you can see what to expect if you decide to buy a kit for your cat.
- Comprehensive genetic analysis
- User-friendly interface
- Continuous lifetime updates
- Easy sample collection
- Includes a free dental health report
- US-based laboratory
- Supported by veterinarians
Basepaws Cat DNA Test Review
Now that we have a good overview of what to expect when you buy a Basepaws cat DNA test, let’s get a little more in-depth.
What I Like:
- Crystal Clear Instructions: The kit includes straightforward instructions for easy sample collection. There’s absolutely NO guesswork involved.
- Holistic Approach: I love how Basepaws integrates both ancestry and health information for a more complete understanding of your cat.
- Lifetime Updates: I love that they offer ongoing updates. When they learn something new about your cat, YOU learn something new about your cat. Period. A lot of DNA companies give you maybe a year of updates before they demand more money.
- Super Detailed Results: Leia’s DNA report is 68 pages long! Granted, some of that is basic information not specifically related to her DNA, but it’s still VERY detailed..
- Visual Presentation: Speaking of the report, I LOVE how they give you a beautiful and interactive PDF to download. It’s so easy to re-read her results or share them even when I’m not logged into the site.
Drawbacks & Things to Consider
- Smaller breed database: Basepaws doesn’t have the largest breed database compared to other cat DNA tests. I do think the health markers database more than makes up for it, though.
- Turnaround time: It takes quite a while to get your results back. Mine took roughly 6 weeks for Leia. I think that’s fairly standard for DNA tests, though.
- Medical jargon may be confusing for some: While I feel they do a pretty decent job of explaining the health markers, I also think they could use more “layperson” language. I have a medical background as a former nursing student (and, briefly, a CNA) and health writer and I still had to look up a few things.
What Can You Learn About Your Cat from Basepaws?
First, fun fact, I actually tried out their cat DNA test on my Alexander the Fuzz, back in 2019 when Basepaws first launched. Both Leia and Alex came from the feral colony that we care for outside my home (albeit 8 years and several generations apart), so it was interesting to compare the two reports, both genetically and to see how Basepaws has changed over the years.
I can definitely say that the newer reports are A LOT more detailed. If you’re curious or want to see the full versions of both reports, here’s Alex’s and here’s Leia’s (all of the screenshots below come from her report). As I’ve mentioned a few times, the report is EXTREMELY detailed, so we’re not going to go over every aspect of it. Let’s just check out some of my favorite features.
Ancestry and breed composition
I was really looking forward to finding out what type of cat Leia is, so this was the first thing I looked at (and not just because it’s the first thing on the report). Turns out she’s a little bit of just about everything (aka a polycat)! That makes sense, though, given her feral background.
I was surprised to see that she’s 12% Maine Coon, given how petite she is. I wasn’t surprised to see Siberian appear there, though, since I can definitely see a lot of that breed in her mother (aptly named Marshmallow aka Marshy). You can see her below. I apologize for the photo quality, but she’s a very skitzy cat and I had to zoom in from pretty far back.
As I mentioned a few times, this is where Basepaws really shines! Leia’s report included 10 pages of information on her health markers. I was SUPER relieved to learn that she’s clear for everything. The report includes information on:
- 6 musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
- 4 eye disorders
- 17 metabolic disorders
- 4 blood disorders
- 3 endocrine disorders
- 2 autoimmune disorders
- 4 renal disorders (including Polycystic Kidney Disease, one of the top cat diseases)
- 2 skin disorders
- 1 cardiovascular disorder (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which I think is what killed her siblings)
Last, but not least, it also shows you your cat’s blood type and transfusion risk, which is super handy to know if your cat needs surgery.
Physical Trait Markers
For the most part, this section covers the different traits that make up your cat’s physical appearance. It also includes a few more health details. The main difference between this and the health markers section, though, is that the “traits” details are a bit more vague. A DNA test can very clearly say “your cat’s genetic composition puts her at high risk for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy” or “your cat is all clear for the genes that cause glaucoma.”
However, when it comes to traits, it’s more a matter of putting together the genes commonly associated with certain physical features and making a very educated guess. The report can only tell you that your cat is a carrier for these genes and/or that they are likely/not likely to express them.
For example, Leia’s report lets me know that she’s a carrier for “dilute coat color,” and that she’s “not likely” to have albinism.
As with human DNA tests,it’s not always perfect or accurate, though. Leia’s report shows that she’s likely to have long hair, but she’s actually a short-haired cat.
Again, though, this is fairly common in ALL DNA tests. My 23andMe said that I was not likely to have dimples (which I do), was unlikely to have hair at birth (I had a full head of dark hair), and I was less likely to be afraid of heights (they terrify me). With very few exceptions, Leia’s Basepaws traits matched up perfectly with Leia herself.
Dental Health Markers
At the very end (before the appendix and some more general tips), the Basepaws Cat Breed + Health report also includes a section on your cat’s overall dental health.
Honestly, I didn’t pay as much attention to this section as the rest, since cat oral health depends on so much more than just genetics. But it’s still great info to have!
Where to Buy
Basepaws sells their kits through their website and on Amazon. A single kit costs $159 on both sites. However, if you order before 1/30/24 directly through Basepaws, you can save $40 by using the coupon code SNOWY. If you have multiple cats, buy both kits at the same time and save over $100 (two kits for $208).
Basepaws also offers whole genome sequencing that “yields 10,000 times more data than other DNA tests so that you can avoid surprises with earlier disease detection”, but that’ll cost you a much prettier penny ($499), as well as a dog DNA test. I’m currently working on that review and will share it with you when it’s done if you’re curious. I know my dog’s breed, so I did it to test their accuracy. Spoiler alert, it’s accurate, even if you have a relatively rare dog breed (Pharaoh Hound).
Bottom Line: Is Basepaws Worth the Price?
Basepaws isn’t cheap, but it’s also not terribly expensive for what you get. So yes, in my opinion, it’s worth it. Especially if you adopted a cat from a shelter or, in my case, from a feral colony. As cool as it was to find out what type of cat Leia is (even if she’s mostly a vague polycat), the health marker information alone made it worth every penny.
I know that’s easy for me to say since I didn’t actually pay for the kit. But honestly, I was planning to buy one for Leia anyway, and then Basepaws reached out about doing a review. It was just really good timing.
Have you ever tried a cat DNA test? Share your thoughts and experiences below!
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