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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. himawari
    Entry. I know for sure that my cat has to be mixed with something else because he seems much bigger than a regular DSH. Would love to find out!
  2. jdwns12
    Second Entry for 2nd cat. My cat Tyler, red and white bicolor DSH. A couple of the Siamese cats Ive met had obnoxious meows. He doesn't look anything like a Siamese cat, but he's got that obnoxious meow that reminds me of the Siamese cats I've met. Maybe he's got a tiny, tiny bit in him. Then again, maybe not! Maybe there are many other cat breeds or mogggies that have that loud, low, obnoxious meow too. I figured why not enter him anyway and see.
  3. Meow Meow Mama
    This is our ENTRY, and MWOW, do I hope we get picked! My owner is so fascinated with me; she's always staring at my beautiful tortie coat, and so amazed by my instinct driven shows of primal hunting. I know she would be the happiest 'kitty mama' to learn more about my roots, and maybe understand me a little better. When I do things like 'hide' my wet food I don't finish by scratching at the carpet, or make my unique noises when we communicate, I can see her wheels turning in wonderment. I know she loves me whether she knows more about my breed or not, (she thinks there may be some Abyssinian in here) but I can tell this is something pretty important to her, and I would just love to make her happy. Plus, this can help fill out our family tree (although I prefer the kind you can climb), especially since I was a shelter kitty, and maybe even help keep me healthy in our years to come.
    We thank you for this pawpportunity!
    -Meow Meows and Lisa
      Margret and maggiedemi purraised this.
  4. Sheeeeela
    Entry: A friend seems to think my cat Boo might have some Egyptian Mau blood. Would love to find out what makes up this fantastic feline faithful friend! Thanks!
  5. Krdyorke
    Entry: we were told our rescue, Tucker, is an American Bobtail.
  6. jdwns12
    Entry: I believe my cat resembles American Shorthair; some people have said she is an Egyptian Mau lookalike, but she's not that spotty. I would like to see if either one of these breed shows up in the genetic testing.
  7. kbreimhurst
    Shirley (Sherlock, female) and Mikey (Mycroft, male) look like domestic shorthair cats who have a few quirks. They are 3.5 year old littermates. What people don't know is that those quirks come from their unique ancestry. Shirley is a calico with markings on her back that look like stripes and Mikey is a black and white lean hunting machine (reallly he just steals his sister's prizes). Her markings and his sleek physique come from the East African Wildcats in Uganda.

    He has the shape and she has a the coloring of the wildcats. I would love to know how much wildcat is in them and what their wild ancestors mixed with. I adopted them as four week old kittens when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer and brough them to the US when my service ended. That is why I am putting in this ENTRY.
  8. Theaxer
    My older female Calico went into heat really early which I read is a trait for Siamese cats. Osiris (the cat) was overly vocal. So much so that she had to be fixed. But before it was done, she had an unplanned litter. Out of it, only one other female came out - my younger calico. She's about six months old now and just had her last heat. I'd like to know if Arcitur (the younger calico) is indeed closely related to Siamese cats to see what else there may be. It's why my ENTRY is here in the first place.
  9. teestro
    My Carlton resembles and acts very much like a Bombay cat! He is vocal, playful, affectionate, and very dependent. I adopted him a few months ago, and have very little information regarding his previous owner. This is why my ENTRY is needed- as I would love to determine if he is a bombay!
  10. Paradox
    I would love to be able to test my kitty, Light! He looks like a Colorpoint Shorthair, but since he doesn't have any papers & was found in a trailer park in the town I used to live in, there's not much to back it up other than his appearance. He just turned 6 this year & he is the first pet that has ever been truly *mine.* I love him so much & do hope that this ENTRY can win him a DNA test!
  11. lori n
    I have a special kitty, Jake. Jake came to me when he was 5 days old, his mother was MIA after his 3rd day of life. I raised him up to a healthy 4yr old, sweet, 16# boy. He’s a ginger with the strangest fur. Its a rough, thick medium length coat & rings on his tail. Out of my 11 rescue cats, Jake is very worthy of a DNA entry. Thank you.
  12. adriennes
    I would love to test one of my ferals, Frankie! The vet suspects he might have some maine coon in him!
  13. YBBesco17
    I'd love to make an ENTRY to test my handsome baby boy BB. He almost resembles a Ragamuffim cat, I'm just not sure. I know almost everything about the love of my life I just want to know more!
  14. maggiedemi
    I would like to test Maggie. She looks like a Siberian also known as Siberian Forest Cat.
  15. Binzy
    I would love to make an ENTRY for my kitten Zeus. He is nine week old grey kitten with amber eyes and looks nothing like his sister.
  16. Davchun
    My kitten looks very similar to Danby from Alley Cat'S kitten progression guide (I'm not allowed to post links for some reason)

    I don't really know what breed he is, but I'd like to add an ENTRY for my kitten, Butters so I can figure out what breed he is.
  17. epona
    Hi, I am in the UK. How much information is in the database about UK breeds? Because they may have significant DNA differences from US breeds.

    (I know that 2 of mine are OSH and another is 1/2 Cornish Rex, but am just wondering how you account for differing gene pools).
  18. Thestarcatcher

    Miso is a kitten I rescued from a cat hoarding situation, she is a very sweet vocal little one who is likely to be seal pointed as she ages. She has red pupils and icy blue eyes and just the loudest shrill of a meow! Her legs are particularly different than the other cats I own right now! I’m very interested to know if she has Thai ancestry or wild ancestry! Thank you!
    Ps- the giveaway ends on my birthday! How cool! :)
  19. Norachan

    Mu was the first feral cat I rescued in Japan. At that time we were living in Kanazawa, which has a big fishing port where Russian boats sometimes dock. I wonder if Mu has any Russian ancestors?
  20. megancj25
    ENTRY for Whiskers. She was a stray until I took her in, and I would like to know her breed so I can get a healthy weight on her! She looks like an Domestic Shorthair to me.
  21. EchoEcho
    I’m a cat rescuer of sorts, I like in a trailer court where people just let their cats run wild there are baby kittens everywhere at this time of year and I like to feed the cats outside when baby baby kittens come up to my porch I usually take them in get rid of their terrible fleas and bottle feed them and when they’re ready I get them their shots and deworm them and find them new homes (if I haven’t seen them walking around with a momma cat that I recognize) that’s also how I’ve gotten each and every one of my cats. I have 5 of my own and a 3 week old kitten that I found outside and I have no idea what any of them are, Aquarius and Jezzabell are both calicos and they almost look identical, people get them mixed up all the time, Silver ans Neptune look to be a Bengal mix of come sort ones grey and has Bengal looking spots and the others Bengal colored with what looks like target marks on her sides which I’ve also seen in Bengals and I believe they’re sisters as I found them together, my kitty Jinx is almost all black and just has the very tip of her tail marked with white. And the newest addition little Finley is an orange little tabby with gorgeous baby blue eyes and I’m hoping they stay that way. I’d really like to get silver and Neptune genetically tested 1. To see if they’re really related to each other and two to tell exactly what breed they are. Thanks for taking the time to read this comment if you did
      catsknowme purraised this.
  22. Shoppinghappens
    Part of me is having flashbacks to feline genetics over a decade ago. But part of me wants to know about my cat. Both of mine were would rescues. The female is 16 lbs and not overweight and doesn't overeat. Her litter mate brother has a smaller frame and will binge eat the treats if I let him (I don't). So the non practicing biochemist in me (not by choice just never found a job) really wants to compare the allels and also see which came from mom and which came from dads. I would love to see the dna sequence so please consider my ENTRY. Thank you!
  23. stormyandklaus
    This is my ENTRY for my cats, Stormy & Klaus. I think they are Nebelungs (doubtful pure bred, but they have Nebelung features) and Klaus may have a little Maine coon based on his ears, facial features, and giant fluffy tail.
  24. DarwinsMum
    Submitting my entry for Darwin! We think she might be domestic medium or long hair but it's hard to tell. She has very pretty coloring and is only six weeks old!
  25. ChaoticEva
    For Banjo, our tripod cat! He's a rescue and we would love to know what breeds he has in his DNA!
    Entry for Aphrodite
    She woke me up from a nightmare and were speaking to me in some weird language
  27. Norachan

    Toby looks like a classic Japanese bob-tail. Short tail and stocky build. He was dumped outside my house when he was just a kitten, so I'd like to know if he is just like all my other cats or if he has something special in his genes.
  28. Chippy922
    My ENTRY is for my huge fluffy white cat named Alfred. He is so unusual looking and acting with his big black eyes. I would love to know more about him.
  29. tmig
    ENTRY: I'd love to test my cat Alfie to see if he's Siberian like we think he is :)
  30. Hartingm637
    This is my entry for the contest! My cat is a 3 year old large cat that looks like a tabby. Orange and white. I adopted him, he was a feral cat before and for his size I wonder what else he may have in him. I love that you guys offer this test!!
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