Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Know Your Cat Inside and Out: Basepaws DNA Test

Wouldn't you love know all of the intricacies of your cat's health, behavior, and breed? Have you ever considered having a DNA test done on your feline? What if there was a way to learn exactly that makes your cat unique - from understanding her breed makeup to learning about her health and traits?

We were approached about reviewing the Basepaws DNA Test and were intrigued. Both Truffle and Brulee are registered with the Cat Fancier's Association (CFA) and I can trace their "family" tree for generations. They also came from a reputable breeder where they parents tested negative for PKD.

I didn't need to know their breed background, but was curious about any particular health issues because Persians are known to suffer such as Urinary Health Issues, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), respiratory problems, and heart problems. Truffle has been a pretty healthy cat until she developed bladder stones two years ago. Brulee has consistently had upper respiratory infections and reactions to vaccinations, so I wanted to have her tested to see what showed up.

Graphic credit: Basepaws

What is Basepaws

The Basepaws Cat DNA Test helps owners learn about their cat's breed, health, traits, and habits from a simple saliva test. With a "simple" swab from your cat's cheek, you can determine your cat's origins to more than 17 breed types and four breed regions. The DNA Test can also show if your cat has any health risks in their genes, such as PKD, Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), Retinal degeneration, or hypothyroidism. Basepaws has been able to manually curate health markers from every sample they've received and can recognize 40+ markers representing 17 genetic diseases. Basepaws also allows you to determine your cat's ancestry to the wild species. Once the testing is completed, you get a personalized DNA report from Basepaws. This report provides free lifetime Breed Report updates to the individualized report. Basepaws actually sequences your cat's DNA.

Obtaining the Sample DNA

I admit, I was a little anxious about collecting the saliva sample from Brulee because she can't stand to have anyone mess with her mouth. I live alone, so I didn't have anyone to assist with collecting the sample. I'm using the video provided by Basepaws because there was no way I could film myself collecting the saliva from a squirming cat! There was really no need to worry - it was pretty simple. 

The first thing one must do is to activate the CatKit on Basepaws.com. That was the easy part. I usually try to give medication and groom Brulee when she's resting comfortably on my bed with me. I tempted her with some of her favorite treats and enticed her to climb onto my lap. The first attempt as getting the swab into her cheek wasn't as successful, but I regrouped and easily placed it inside her cheek and swabbed for a few seconds. I then placed the swab into the provided enclosures for shipping. The sample was sent through the USPS for testing. It took about 6 weeks to get the results.

Brulee's Genetic Report

Brulee's Basepaws DNA Test Results

Breed Groups

Brulee's results were very interesting. The report shares results based on Breed Groups, Similar Breeds, and Health Markers. As I said earlier, I knew Brulee was a Persian, but the results of the Basepaws DNA test surprised me. It showed that Brulee's Breed Group was 42.9% Western, such as the Abyssinian. She was only 17% Persian. What?!?

I immediately contacted Basepaws with my concerns. Within a couple of days, I received an email from Dr. Chris Menges, Chief Veterinary Officer at Basepaws, explaining the Breed Groups. 
"The breed is meant to understand more about our mixed/domestic cats, and less our registered cats (since their lineages are known). I'm tremendously sorry for that. We do typically have our registered cats apply for our Purebred Project, so that we can increase the overall options and lineages that we have from each of our registered breeds. As we increase our database, we expect all of our results (for both mixed and lineaged cats) to become increasingly accurate. We have our next update in roughly one month, and that should see some change as well."
I was asked to consider adding both Truffle and Brulee into the Purebred Project so Basepaws could get more detail on the Persian Breed. I had to complete a survey which included specific questions about my cats, a photo of them, and had to include a copy of their CFA registration papers. My application for both Truffle and Brulee were approved as part of the Basepaws Pedigree Cat Project. As part of the project, I had to complete a Physical Characteriustics (Phenotype) Survey and will once again collect a saliva sample from the girls to send in. It's exciting to be a part of a study where results from my two beautiful Persian cats my help others.

Brulee shares information about Basepaws DNA Test

For those who don't know the breed of their cats and are interested, the Basepaws DNA Test breaks down the Feline Breeds into 4 different groups: Western, Eastern, Exotic, and Persian Cats. Each of the "similar" cat breeds are further defined in the report.

Health Marker Report

"Genetic disorders are conditions that are present at birth or develop later in life and are caused by one or more genetic mutations." Basepaws tested Brulee for genetic health markers associated with genetic disorders. 

"Genetic health markers are mutated gene alleles associated with an increased likelihood of developing a particular genetic disorder. With the exception of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which has more complex genetics, the conditions included in this report have either a dominant or a recessive pattern of inheritance. This means that for diseases with a dominant inheritance pattern, having just one mutated gene allele will result in the cat developing the disease. Conversely, for diseases with a recessive inheritance pattern, the cat will only develop the disease if it has 2 mutated alleles. Having just one mutated recessive allele makes the cat a disease carrier, meaning that it will not develop the disease, but it can pass down the mutation to its kittens. In this part of the report, you will see your kitty’s results for various genetic markers associated with diseases." 
I'm pleased to say that Brulee's results for the health markers tested were all negative! She was tested for
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
  • Cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic
  • Retinal Degeneration II
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis
  • Gangliosidosis
  • Cystinuria
  • Porphyria
  • Factor XII Deficiency
  • Mannosidosis, alpha
  • Myotonia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Vitamin D-Deficiency rickets, type I
  • Niemann-Pick disease, type C1
  • Primary hypoeroxaluria type II
  • Hypokalaemic periodic paralysis
  • Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative syndrome
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency of erythrocyte
I'm so fortunate that my cats are basically healthy! I can imagine that someone who rescues a cat from a shelter or the a rescue would be very interested in having her tested to see the breed background and possible health issues.


The wonderful people at Basepaws have generously agreed to allow us to host a giveaway for one of our readers and one person will have the opportunity to win a a Basepaws DNA kit.

The giveaway is open to residents of the US, 18+ years of age, except where prohibited by law. The winners will be randomly selected randomly by Rafflecopter and contacted by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize and a new winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter. Please note that to qualify for a prize a comment must be left on this blog post. Giveaway closes April 1, 2020 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Would you like to comment?

  1. This is fascinating! I'll bet the veterinarian would find it worthwhile too.

  2. As a registered and pedigreed Somali, I should apply for the purebred project! The only thing I have in my lineage other than Somali would be some Abyssinian from some generations back.

    1. That's a great idea. Have your mom email our mom and she'll send you the contact for the Purebred Project

  3. We think we might be Dad's 3rd cousin or something according to all the emails he gets from a DNA site. Which feels vaguely disturbing.

  4. They sure are doing amazing things these days!

  5. Wow, it's amazing how much they can determine now!

  6. That is so cool! I will share this with my nieces who have kitties. Thanks so much.

  7. Having my Gracie baby tested would have been helpful years ago since she was diagnosed with heart failure in 2017. After having her for 15.5 years I lost her last year ����
    Now I have black and white bobtail twins - Cookie & Cream I would love to get DNA tested trust to know any health related issues that could come up in the future as they are ~9 months old ����

  8. It's really quite amazing what these DNA tests can determine. I had one done on my (Ancestry DNA) and it confirmed what I already pretty much knew. I think it's interesting that your cat's test gave you different results than what you expected, but maybe the cat DNA tests are still in their infancy.

  9. I did one for Layla and it was so interesting to get the results as what we thought she was a mix of was completely different. I am blessed that health issues wise I have nothing to worry about

  10. My cat has some health issues and it would be great to know if any of this information could improve his life.

  11. Very cool. It's reassuring to find out your pet has tested negative for common diseases and syndromes. I'm glad you were able to do thsi test.

  12. I had no idea they did this for cat but it is a great idea!

    signed ~ Rose's Giant Lady.

  13. I’ve considering getting Treeno analyzed. I’ve held off because I’m not how accurate they really are. Your result kind of backs that up- if they are purebred why would they not come back that way whichever project they are in? DNA is DNA right? I think their results will improve because of their Purebred Project over time. They were collecting samples and info at the international show in October. It’s pretty interesting

  14. I wonder what I would learn if we did a DNA test for Cookie. By appearance, she is a purebred Rottweiler. But her personality screams Hound.

  15. I remember reviewing the CatKit and getting Phoebe's results(and the further useful emails!). It is so amazing to see and understand the test and I really enjoyed speaking to the Basepaws people. They are 100% committed to cat care and research!

  16. Both my cats are rescues, so I'm curious on their breeds, as well as health things that they may deal with.


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