Updated on: September 10, 2020

When it comes to DNA testing your cat from the comfort of home, there really aren’t too many options to choose from. Basepaws was the first to offer such a test, but are they the best?

After covering a variety of DNA test kits for kitty’s, we know what to look for. This means useful — and actionable — health information as well as in-depth breed data. And while Basepaws does cover these things, it’s only useful if it’s accurate, so we put them to the test.

With the help of my friend Bukowski (my cat, not the author), I took one of these reasonably priced DNA tests. Below, we’ll go into depth on what I learned in our Basepaws DNA review.

Basepaws DNA Review: Good but not purrfect 1

Basepaws DNA:

  • Founded by Anna Skaya
  • The world’s first at-home cat DNA test kit
  • Employs a dedicated team of veterinarians and geneticists

Quick facts:


Basepaws DNA Review: Good but not purrfect 2
Sample Collection: Saliva swab
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DNA Testing Type: Genetic variant analysis across 18 chromosomes
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Speed: 4-6 weeks
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Privacy Protection: Medium to strong

How much does Basepaws DNA kit cost?

Basepaws currently offers 3 different feline DNA test kits. Below, we’ll cover what you’ll get with each one and how much it’ll cost you:

Send in steps

Taking and submitting a Basepaws CatKit is incredibly easy, simply take the following steps:

  1. Visit basepaws.com, create an account, and register your CatKit.
  1. Use the swab that’s included with your kit to collect a saliva sample by rubbing it along the inside of your cat’s cheek. 
  1. Place the swab into the included tube with the cap inverted and shake.
  1. Return your saliva sample to Basepaws (free shipping for those who live within the United States).
  1. Wait 4-6 weeks from the time your sample was received to get your test results.

How is my privacy protected with Basepaws?

When it comes to protecting your personal information, Basepaws does a decent job. According to the company’s privacy policy, any personally identifiable information, either about you, or your pet, will never be shared unless absolutely necessary to perform the genetic test. However, Basepaws does allow third-party advertisers to gather some web-based data for targeted advertising purposes.

Additionally, Basepaws employs some fairly impressive security measures to protect your personal information and your pet’s genetic data. This includes regular security reviews of their

software, industry-standard encryption, and managing the safeguards used by their third-party service providers.

The competition

While Basepaws may have been the first at-home cat DNA test kit to hit the market, it wasn’t long before some competing genetic tests popped up. Other popular feline DNA test kits include:

  • Optimal Selection Feline ($99) — Tests your cat’s blood type, genetic diversity, 20+ traits, and includes 40+ genetic health tests.
  • Catdnatest.org ($45) — Check your kitty’s identity and sex determinant markers, parentage, genetic health risks, and traits.

The test results

Basepaws test results are broken up into three different sections: Breed Groups, Wildcat Index, and Health Markers (may vary depending on the type of test you order). Below, we’ll explore each of these in a little more detail.

Breed groups

Using high coverage whole genome sequencing pedigree cat data, Basepaws can generate something they call a ‘genetic proximity map.’ This map will lay out the breeds closest to your cat based upon 4 foundational breed groups — Western, Eastern, Persian, and Exotic. You’ll also be given some likely personality predictions based upon your cat’s breed.

Basepaws DNA Review: Good but not purrfect 6

Wildcat index 

All 37 known species of cats share a common ancestor. And the genetic traces of this common ancestor can still be found in your kitty today. 

The thing is, different cats may have inherited more of their DNA from one specific wildcat ancestor than another. To determine which wildcat is most related to your pet, Basepaws will compare your cat’s DNA to four well-known wildcats — tigers, leopards, cheetahs, and cougars. 

This is one of the more unique portions of Basepaw’s test results and happened to be one of my favorite parts. Here, I learned that my cat has some genetic similarities to a tiger, so no wonder he always bites me when I try petting him (I joke, he’s sweet).

Health markers

In this section, Basepaws will test your feline friend for more than 38 genetic mutations that are related to 17 different genetic conditions. You’ll learn if your cat has tested positive for a genetic variant that’s associated with one of these genetic diseases. This is a great way to be proactive about your cat’s health and learn which diseases could be a future problem.

The 17 genetic diseases your pet will be checked for are:

  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome
  • Gangliosidosis
  • Factor XII deficiency
  • Cystinuria
  • Hypokalemic periodic paralysis
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Mannosidosis
  • Niemann-Pick disease
  • Myotonia
  • Vitamin D-deficiency rickets
  • Porphyria
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Primary hyperoxaluria
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency of erythrocyte

Basepaws review of accuracy 

While the report you’ll receive is well-designed, looks nice, and is fun to read, it’s not incredibly useful. This is because your results are based on the data Basepaws has collected over the years, and simply compares your cat’s genetics with this known information. In my test results, I learned that Bukowski has genetic similarities with Persians and Ragdolls, information that I didn’t think was all that accurate.

The same goes for the Wildcat Index section. Here, I was told my furry friend has genetic similarities to a leopard, cheetah, tiger, and cougar. While this is fun information, I’m not exactly sure what to do with it or if it’s at all accurate.

The Health Markers section, which is arguably the most useful part of the test results, was also lacking. I say this because Basepaws doesn’t actually test for genetic diseases, but only if your cat has genetic health markers that are associated with certain disorders. This will tell you if your cat has a higher likelihood of developing a disease, but not much else. So, while useful to an extent, it’s still no replacement for regular visits to the vet. 

Overall review of Basepaws: Should you DNA test your cat?

Pros

  • Learn what common cat breeds your pet is most similar to
  • Discover if your feline friend has genetic similarities to tigers, leopards, cheetahs, and cougars
  • See if your cat has a genetic predisposition for 17 different genetic conditions
  • Free shipping from the United States
  • Quick and easy sample collection process

Cons

  • Test results can take forever to be returned (mine took close to 7 weeks)
  • Not incredibly accurate
  • Doesn’t give you too much useful information

Overall, I was a little disappointed with Basepaws test results. As the market leader in the world of cat DNA testing, I had high hopes for this kit. But, upon receiving my results, I really don’t feel like I learned all that much. 

The breed section didn’t tell me what breeds are actually in my cat, and the breeds that my cat ‘is most similar to’ didn’t strike me as particularly accurate (my cat really doesn’t have any physical similarities to a Persian like the test results stated). And the Wildcat Index section, while fun, did seem a little pointless.

The most useful part of this test, by far, is the health information that’s provided. Here, you can at least learn something that may turn out to be useful. If your cat has a genetic marker that’s associated with a certain disease, this will give you some idea of potential health issues you need to look out for. But, even here, I felt they really didn’t provide all that much with only 17 diseases covered by the CatKit. 

Basepaws is great if your looking for a fun way to learn a bit more about your pet. But if you want reliable breed and health information, you may be better off going to a vet.

23andMe DNA Kit Review

Joel

Basepaws DNA Review: Good but not purrfect 7
Ease of Use
Health Information
Ancestry Information
Speed of Updates
Speed of Results

Summary

If you love your kitty - feel free to buy this!

4.2

FAQ

Is Basepaws' cat DNA test worth buying?

This all depends on what you’re looking for. If you want reliable breed and health information about your cat, then probably not. But if you’re simply looking for a fun way to learn a bit more about your pet, Basepaws is a decent choice.

What are some reasons to buy a Basepaws CatKit?

- To learn what breeds your cat is genetically most similar to
- To find out what Wildcat genetics are most similar to your pet
- To see if your cat has a genetic predisposition to any one of 17 genetic diseases

How does Basepaws work?

Using a small saliva sample, Basepaws compares your cat’s DNA to the data that’s in their database to learn more about your kitty’s breed and health.

Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.

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