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Discover Your Cat's Genetic Makeup With Basepaws

May 24, 2018 · Updated May 24, 2018 · ·
  1. Anne
    Have you ever looked at your cat wondering if there's some cat breed in her or his lineage? With most of our cats, we have no clue as to their genetic origins.

    But that's changing fast. You can now find out more about your cat's genetic heritage with a simple test that requires nothing more than a few of Kitty's hairs! We're going to talk today about how to do just that - and help promote scientific research into cat health too!

    But there's more:
    We're giving away TWO FREE Basepaws!genetic testing Catkits!!

    You can hop over to the giveaway here or keep on reading to learn more about this unique product.

    Edit: We have our two winners!
    Congratulations @M00nshad0w and @RiparianTraced ! :clap: I will be in touch soon to get your Basepaws kits out to you.

    If you didn't win, don't worry. Basepaws has generously created a special coupon for TheCatSite offering you a $20 discount on their kits!

    How can genetic testing help my cat?

    The science of genetics is moving forward in leaps and bounds. And now genetic testing is becoming available for cats too - more accessible and affordable than ever.

    Want to learn more? We did too, so we talked to Anna Skaya, CEO of Basepaws, a leader in the field of genetic testing for cats. Here's our interview with Anna -

    Anna Skaya - CEO of Basepaws
    Hi Anna, would you tell us a little bit about yourself, your connection with cats and the cats in your life.

    My name is Anna Skaya and I am the founder and CEO of the cat genetics company Basepaws. My connection with cats, and really all pets goes back to when I was a kid.
    My father is an entomologist and my mother is a biologist. Naturally, I grew up with animals, and cats have always been my favorite. They're independent, sassy and smart.

    Growing up in Europe, I've had cats living in and out of my home, sleeping in my bed, sharing my toys and eating my food since I can remember.

    How did Basepaws come to be? What made you think of the idea and how did you launch the company?

    Basepaws came to be two years ago. The idea was actually born because of the recent boom in personalized medicine and DNA testing. Everyone seemed to be doing DNA tests, but the companion animal space was lagging behind.

    I did my DNA test all the way back in 2011 and I was blown away by the information available to me. When we started with the idea for Basepaws, we couldn’t believe there wasn’t a cat product in the market yet. I remember thinking that there must be a lot more applications for these powerful tools beyond humans.

    In a way, DNA testing of pets is even more important than it is for us humans. We understand our own selves. We can speak, we can run tests. Our pets cannot. They can’t tell us who they are, what they’ve been through, and what hurts them. Sometimes I find myself closer to my pets than to my humans and I want to know them even better.

    How does Basepaws work? What steps are needed to analyze a cat’s DNA?

    Basepaws works very simply. The entire process can be broken down in 3 simple steps.

    1. Ordering the kit. The cat owners buy the Catkit from our website and we send it to them right away. The small kit we send is meant to help customers collect their cat’s DNA.

    2. Sampling the DNA. We use a very unique and non-invasive method of sampling the fur and extracting and isolating the DNA from the hair follicles.

      With our kits we send two pieces of adhesive. The tapes are used for sampling the fur directly from the cat. This does not hurt the cats. They have so much hair, the little bit that comes off with the tape won’t feel like anything to them. We did try out different types of sampling methods and the hair follicles work the best.

      Initially, we actually collected saliva samples. The kits contained swabs which the customers were instructed to use for sampling a little bit of saliva from the inside of the cat’s cheeks. Unfortunately, these samples didn’t turn out to be the best because they were highly contaminated with bacteria and difficult to separate feline DNA from the bacteria DNA. This is why we decided to opt for a unique method of extracting the DNA from the hair follicles instead. Saliva sampling is now only used for hairless cats.

    3. Sending the kit back to us. The customers then send these samples back to us and wait for results. We process the DNA and deliver the reports as soon as we can. The waiting period for now is from 2 to 6 months, but we are working hard to reduce it to a minimum - the long term goal will be to deliver the results in 6-8 weeks.
    This is what the process looks like -

    Can you tell us a little bit about the “behind the scenes” of the process? What do you do with the samples that cat owners send you?

    In the Basepaws lab
    We process all the DNA samples in our own lab based in Los Angeles. This is because we really want to understand how to continue to make our protocols and systems better with each sample we receive.

    When we get the hair sample in lab, we run it through numerous steps of processing. First, the DNA needs to be correctly extracted from the follicles. Afterwards we clean the sample, amplify it and sequence it. Sequencing machines read and record the order of nucleotide bases along the DNA sample. We then run the sequenced sample through our database and compare it to the thousands of cats’ DNA sequences archived in it. Based on this comparison, we can then report the sample to various things such as breed and wildcat indexes.

    What kind of information can you provide about a cat based on the genetic analysis?

    Genetic analysis allows an insight into so many different things. Right now, our report consists of breed and wildcat indexes. The report will be expanded shortly though and all the early clients will be updated for free. Within this and the following year we are planning to introduce Health, Traits and Wellness segments to the CatKit.

    The upcoming Health index will help discover cat's genetics influences to their risk for certain health conditions, or if their DNA is carrying a genetic disorder. We’re planning to cover seven health markers: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, polycystic kidney disease, factor XII deficiency, hemophilia B, hypothyroidism and polydactyly.

    Can you share with us stories of customers that found out something about their cat’s health that helped them take better care of him or her?

    We are just about to launch the health part of our reports. So far customers have mostly learned about the breeds only. Breed markers are a very important part of our report though and we’re the only company who does this. Even if a cat is not a purebred, if you find out it’s highly related to a certain breed it could help your veterinarian anticipate your cat’s future health needs.

    While at the topic of stories, one of our important goals is to build a wonderful, friendly and cat-loving community for all the members joining our growing Basepaws family. We strive to connect to all of our customer and their cats. We want to hear their stories, we want to engage with their cats and, ultimately, we want to connect them with each other.

    How wonderful would it be to connect two cat owners from two different sides of the world who have genetically very similar cats? Hearing what other people are doing can be very beneficial for expanding the valuable knowledge of caring for our cats. We hope to create an ambient in which the cat owners will be able to interact and learn in a new and exciting way.

    Many of our members are wondering about their cat’s breed. What can your test tell owners about the genetic heritage of their cats?

    We run the sequenced DNA through the database and calculate how closely RELATED the cats are to select cat breeds and wildcats. It is interesting, but also super important to learn the ancestry of the cats, as most cats are adopted and we don’t know very much about them.
    However, learning the breed from the DNA is actually not that easy. Most cat breeds have been around for only less than 100 years. Out of the hundreds of millions of cats on Earth, most of them do not have any purebred ancestors because “purebred cats” are a human invention. This makes it very challenging to actually find the breeds in the DNA.

    We developed a genetic test that tells which cat breeds are most genetically similar to the tested cat. For all the thousands of locations along your cat’s DNA that can be similar or different in other cats, we record how many similarities your cat shares with different purebred cats. Then we use this value to determine how similar your cat’s DNA is to each breed in our database. We have actually written a very cool blog about this where we went into a much greater detail about the feline ancestry.

    Our customers are also enjoying wildcat index segment very much too. As we explain in our blog about the evolution of wild and domestic cats, your cat is more related to some species of wild cats than others.

    On an individual basis, your cat will have slightly more or less than 95.6% of their DNA in common with a specific wildcat. This individual metric is based on random inheritance from your cat’s ancestors. The same type of random inheritance is also true for humans and is the reason why one sibling might look much more like a great grandparent than the other sibling.

    Can your verify the breed of a cat that appears to be of a certain breed but has no papers?

    No. Not yet. Again, we need a bigger database and more knowledge in order to gain this kind of power. Cat breeders still know a lot better about purebred cats through papers and documents than us. This is why this still remains with them.

    Pretty neat, isn't it?

    And now let's talk about the giveaway!

    The Basepaws Giveaway!

    Basepaws is offering TheCatSite members the chance to win a Catkit! Here's what you need to do to enter the draw -

    Add a comment to this article to let us know what breed your cat resembles the most and if you'd like to test him/her to see if that breed shows up in their genetic analysis.

    The rules -
    • Add the word ENTRY anywhere in your comment.
    • You can add one comment per cat you'd like to test.
    • You can add one entry comments per day. A total of 14 comments - if you have 14 cats or more!
    • This giveaway is open to members of TheCatSite only.
    • You must be 18 or over to participate in this giveaway.
    • The kits can be shipped (and returned from) the US or Canada only. If you win, you'll have to provide us with a US/CA address.
    This giveaway will run for 14 days. Last date for entries is June 7, 2018.
    We'll run a draw to select TWO lucky winners who will receive the Basepaws Catkit!

    This is a sponsored post. Please support TCS sponsors by visiting their site and consider buying from them - thank you!

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  1. donnae
    ENTRY Capt KitKat Jack came to us at 10 months old as a rescuse, so we have no idea of his background. His size, soft pelt like fur and highly contrasted markings combine with his athleticism to make me wonder if he has a Bengal ancestry.
      Anne and catsknowme purraised this.
  2. foxxycat
    Honeybee is an unusual mix of ? And I would love to know her breed. I think she's Norwegian forest cat and Somalia breeds together. Thank you for this opportunity!
      catsknowme purraised this.
  3. Docs Mom
    ENTRY - Stormy came to me as a 5 wk. old kitten just about 2 yrs ago. He has an interesting tabby pattern and a strange little squeak of a meow. He's fit and very active at 13 lbs. Curious about what breeds he contains or resembles.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  4. ileen
    ENTRY-Luciano was discovered abandoned in Chinatown in NYC. He is black & white, but his white fur is longer than his black fur. I would love to learn about his genetic background.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  5. Boris Diamond

    Seal's body shape is very similar to a Siamese. I've always wondered if he had some in him, even if he is dark grey and white.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  6. ailish
    ENTRY: I got Ailish from a rescue in my area. She was a young mother and had just weaned her kittens. I was looking around for a black cat and my sister found her and thought she had a nice personality. She is thin, lithe and muscular with a very long tail and is quite the jumper and climber, as well as being quite a formidable huntress. She is very opinionated. My thought is that maybe she has some Oriental in her.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  7. abyeb
    ENTRY- Charlie is very clearly a Domestic Shorthair, and an adorable one at that! He doesn’t have any clear breed lookalikes, but I’ve always been curious to get him tested! He’s a little bit larger than average (12 lbs), so I’ve wondered if he has some giant breed ancestry, though it would probably be far back in his history.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  8. Tigerteddy55

    Teddy is a shorthair with tiger / tabby cat markings! He has short little legs, and I am wondering if he has any munchkin mixed in?! He is a rescue and I am curious to see what his genetics are made up of!:)
      catsknowme purraised this.
  9. MCPrescott
    ENTRY - Tatiana is 5 months old and she is a long haired Tortie. I would love to know what her lineage is! Us and her foster parents have no idea who her mother and father are, so her background is really vague. But she is the most beautiful cat I've ever seen!
      catsknowme purraised this.
  10. Kokomo
    I would love to test Kokomo. I have been told by numerous people now that they believe he has some Bengal in him due to his markings. He is a big boy already, at almost 14 pounds at just under a year and a half. He has an amazing attitude, loves to try to catch my fish, caught one of my sister's when he was home, and adores my 2.5 year old niece and nephew. If my entry wins I would be super excited to see what he is closest to breed wise. Thank you!
      catsknowme purraised this.
  11. destinyz12
    ENTRY- I've always suspected that Foxy has some Bengal lineage in her. Between her marble and spotted markings, her similar personality and intelligence, it would make sense. There is also a Bengal breeder not too far away from where I live, so even though she was found as a tiny kitten on the street abandoned, I'm very curious. I hope that this can be tested even though Bengals have wild cat genes in them
      catsknowme purraised this.
  12. FunnyFaceFamily
    ENTRY I believe that Funny Face is Arabian Mau crossed with something but don't know what. We rescued her from the streets of Saudi Arabia. She has the big ears and loyal personality similar to Arabian Mau. I would also love to know how old she Is, vets estimate her to be around 18months to 2 years. Thanks
      catsknowme purraised this.
  13. Lizzard Jane
    Tiger Lily would live to be considered for this ENTRY. I have adopted her from a neighbors barn. I believe she is a Lynx Point Siamese and want to know what percent Siamese and perhaps American shorthair? She is due to have kittens any day and would love to add them to the Entry.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  14. SpadaLuca

    While Luca definitely doesn’t have the size of a Maine Coon, he has some personality characteristics. I just want to know what sort of mix he might be and if there is or isn’t some Maine Coon.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  15. Gizmobius
    ENTRY- Gizmo, in my opinion, looks like your typical domestic shorthair but he’s so big (usually in the 13lb range) and sometimes I think he could eat constantly and never truly be full. He has a clean bill of health so I’d be curious to see if there’s some tiger or perhaps lion in his genetic markup somewhere. :lol: In all seriousness, it’d be interesting to see if there’s anything I don’t expect in his genetics.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  16. Azazel

    My girl Nya is definitely a mix. I believe she has some Siamese in her background because she has lynx point coloring but her history is a mystery. She came from a hoarding situation and wasn’t treated very well before we adopted her. We have no idea what her actual background is.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  17. Etarre
    entry: My husband swears that Juniper is part panther. I think she's more like a little jaguar. We'd love to know who's right. :D
      Anne and catsknowme purraised this.
  18. 2rescuekitties
    I really think Toby has some Egyptian mau or Bengal in him....he can jump soooo extremely high and his features resemble those breeds I would love to find out
      catsknowme purraised this.
  19. MeganLLB
    Entry- I think luna is part Cheshire Cat, shes a bit of a looney. I want to see what she really is.
  20. Father of furbabies

    We were told Shade could be a mix of Black Turkish Angora and Maine Coon but we are curious to know the true heritage of this feral kitten rescue.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  21. 2rescuekitties
    ENTRY- I would love to know if my Stella is mixed with anything! She's so super cute either way but I would love to be able to get an idea of her background :)
      catsknowme purraised this.
  22. lalagimp
    I've love to test my boyfriend's tuxedo cat. He's my stepcat. What could they tell me from a bicolor DSH?
      catsknowme purraised this.
  23. cassiopea
    ENTRY - Bijou, she is this Torbie with little black ear tuffs. Black lips and black eyeliner eyes. Amber eye colour. My parents and I joke that maybe her daddy is a bobcat or lynx :lol: To me she is pretty exotic looking. Might just an overall normal thing of course but curious nevertheless.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  24. Meieiei
    Navi S. Timoshenko is the name of my cat, it is inspired by an mechanical engineering author I admire, I thought it would be fun to have a last name for her like humans do!
    I adopted her from a local shelter, and have always wanted to know her ancestry. I read information online about many breeds, and I think that she could be a mix of an Aegean Cat!, the description of that breed suit her so well! Navi loves water and is mostly white with wide base ears and rounded tips. I would love her to be an Aegean cat because from what I have researched up until now.. this breed is known for being almost free from genetic deceases, and I really hop she get to live a long healthy life.
      catsknowme purraised this.
  25. weebeasties
    Keith is our fluffy boy. He definitely has some big breed in him, but which one? I would love to find out!
  26. IndyJones
    I don't really need a fancy DNA test. Indy is a former feral born on the streets and Kabby was rescued by the SPCA. Both cats have their own personality and I love them both.

    I don't need to know their genetic backgrounds so if I got the test I would pass it on to the next person or to someone who actually needs it for predisposed health reasons (hip problems, cancer, heart disease)
  27. Thestarcatcher
    Amora has always been a lovely cat with interesting and unique features. Her coloration has stumped many people but we decided on dilute tortie, however since she is from a rescue/drop off situation we really have no idea where she is from or her lineage. We would love an ENTRY to test to see if there’s anything hidden in this special girl :)
  28. RiparianTraced
    Nickolas is a long-haired blue tuxedo pattern. He was adopted from a rescue but at 3 months old he's already almost the size of a small full-grown cat. We would love to know if he is partially Maine Coon. Thank you very much for considering this ENTRY in your giveaway.
  29. kashmir64

    Samai was found in a bowl with her sisters at 10 days old on the side of a highway. Neither of her sisters looks like her and she looks so much like a Siberian that I believe that her father must be. There is a Siberian breeder in the area which she was found.
    I truly believe the stud got out and bred her mother, but it's impossible to know for sure without a DNA test.
      Thestarcatcher purraised this.
    1. Thestarcatcher
      I would love to see her! she sounds beautiful!
  30. Brian007
    Entry. Just how much of a ragdoll is Parker the puff, I presume he's fully gened up but maybe he's got some angora rabbit in him, one never knows. He's still quite small and ragdolls are supposed to grow big. The breeder did mention she had angoras too, and they're only very small. I do, of course, realise cross species breeding is somewhere between highly unlikely and impossible. But it's always wise to check. :lol:

    Thank you for adding him to your draw.
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