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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. Trsnp

    I am looking to enter for my kitty Ocehualli. He appears to have this raccoon fur pattern. It would be nice to find out his heritage!
  2. Ktizzll
    ENTRY- These are our is kitties. The orange ones name is Murphy and the little white one is Finnegan. We would love to get them tested because they are from the same litter, yet they look so different! They are going to be 4 months old in June, it would mean the world to us to find out what they really are!! :)[​IMG]
    1. nansiludie
      Finnegan looks like a Siamese mix, the other is a ginger tabby.
  3. LeiLana80
    Our Miss Kitty came to us in the middle of the night in February 2017. She fully looks like a Turkish Van! Long extremely thick white fur, the grey marking on her head, and a beige-ish tail. Her eyes are slightly different colors- one is greenish, one is brownish. However, she is no fan of water! haha. I would LOVE to find out what she really is!
  4. MaddiesMom
    Lucy is a beautiful brown/gray tabby that we adopted from the local shelter. While we were told she is an adult, she is only about 6 lbs. I would like to know more about her background, so would like an ENTRY to your genetic test giveaway.
  5. RScott
    For our 7 month old kitten Sebastian. We always assumed he was just an orange tabby but he has such an interesting coat and everyone that meets him comments on it. Would love to see his genetic makeup as we do not know the breed of either parent!
  6. KarenKat
    Entry - our cat Gohan is a grey and white domestic shorthair, but we always wondered if he has some oriental or Sphinx in him. He’s so slender and energetic we’d love to test him and see the possibilities!
  7. lalagimp
    I would also like to find out more about my tortie cat, Amalie, and wonder if they can compile information on why some cats develop severe, persistent dental disease. She's 8-9 pounds and has FORLs. Is this a predisposition in different breeds?
  8. Norachan

    Susy turned up at out house very skinny and very pregnant about 7 years ago. She and her daughter Mia are both very dainty little cats. They have a slight arch to their backs and Mia's tail curls right up and touches the back of her head.

    Their faces are a different shape to the rest of our cats too. I'd love to know where they got their looks from.
  9. Boris Diamond
    Lilah, a stray that wandered up, is a very unusual looking cat. She has a short, thick body with long legs. She has a short tail, and where it attaches to her body the fur is 3 inches thick, though she is a short-haired cat. It looks like an otter tail! She is a dilute torbie and down her back she has a black stripe that stands up sometimes. She is a very pretty cat, but I wonder where she got her characteristics. I would love to have her tested.
  10. SilverNova
    ENTRY !

    we have a huge stray cat problem in our area and one of my cats was a stray we brought in so I'd love to know what breeds he has in him because I'm sure he's got a few!
  11. Motherbear01
    ENTRY - It would be so cool to find out my fur-babys origin! Please enter me in this wonderful giveaway contest! New to the site. Love what Ive seen thus far. Thanks for an informative safe site to talk Cat!
  12. Curlynn
    ENTRY: My parents found a cat up north that needed love at our rv campground. They went around through the whole parking asking if this cat belonged to anyone, no one claimed the baby. They decided if she stuck around by the time they left they would bring her home for me, and she never left the porch that weekend so they told me I could keep her. I would love to know more about her since we know nothing about her life before she kind of just made herself part of the family. The vet said she looks like a regular ole tabby, so I'm curious what breeds shes mixed with because she seems to also have some calico colors/patterns in her tabby stripes.
  13. Kayla70711
    Entry for my cat socks. I'd like to know if he's part Simaese, or not. He look it a little in the face. He's blue color with white feet. He's very muscly, but his face is thinner, and shapped differently.
  14. Jezzi
    Entry for my lovely fatcat~ Jet and I have had many loving years together and I swore the day I found her, starving and alone, that she would never need to look for another home. She's almost pure black and seems to have an eating disorder, but I love her all the same. I think what I'm most curious about is where she gets her tail from- that thing has more muscle than any other cat I know of... She's knocked my glasses off my face with them on several occasions, along with many other items.
  15. MFCroo
    ENTRY for Bolero.
    Hi, I would be very interested to know if a cat we recently adopted is a Turkish Van. Bolero is the most unusual cat we have ever had. According to the descriptions we have read and pictures we've seen, he sure looks and feels and acts like he could be one of these Vans. In addition to the physical characteristics matching to the descriptions, he is intensely attached to my husband. He will do anything to get to my husband, including forgoing eating his favorite food, if it's a choice between the food and being able to climb all over my husband and snuggle.
    Entery for Chatty Katty , we rescued each other one night in October of 2017 as I was taking pictures of the moon. I thought I was saving her from being raped by about 4 or 5 toms as she leaped into my arms(ferals or kept kittys they are all friends even to this day). I later found out I figure they brought her to me <3 because she was pregnant. I checked around for an owner nothing even with the Pet FBI nothing until a neighbor informed me that she was a stray. then I heard from another neighbor that the church next to me she used to be a mouser their, but the church has changed owners and they threw her out. keeping comments about that to self because they aren't so church like ha. I discovered in November after she gave birth to 4 beautiful babies later all in furever homes. I was told by friends she looked a little Maine Coon, or Norwegian but she is so small. But Chatty has a forever home with me and has been spayed and current on all her shots. Love her to death, and would love to know her heritage. Thank you
  17. carebearbaby1
    Entry for Lilly. I adopted Lilly from the shelter. She was listed as a Maine Coon mix but I have my doubts about that. She's an average sized cat, but has the thickest coat. It's twice as thick as any of my domestic long haired cats, but medium length.
  18. Geralizze M.

    I would love to know what breed my little Milo is!
  19. Coonmommy
    Entry! Freya would so much like to have her Maine Coonish verified!
  20. Norachan

    Albert looks like a Siamese, but he and his sister were born into a feral colony. I'd be interested to find out where they got their blue eyes from.
  21. DeeSweetie
    Entry, my Sweetie's face is the spitting image of the first cat, Pussywillow. Sweetie is a white and black domestic short hair.
  22. Par5nb
    Entry for Ivan who we think has quite a bit of Russian blue mixed with something interesting!
  23. Moz
    Entry - I'd also like to make an entry for Indy. She was orphaned at three weeks old. She and all of her siblings are black with some white patches, but I don't know what her parents looked like. Indy is the largest cat I've ever had - she's very tall! I've wondered if she's some kind of American Shorthair.
  24. beckbjj
    ENTRY: Everyone who sees my big guy Quincy asks if he's a Maine Coon. He looks like a Maine Coon to me, and he has some Maine Coon traits, but I would LOVE to know for certain if he really has any in him!
  25. KSV
    Entry: this cat is being fostered from the streets. We will try to get it adopters. It be nice to know if it’s partly related to any breeds to promote it. Could it be a Turkish van or a Turkish angora Cat? Who knows.

    It’s white with blue eyes and spots on head and tail. But it also has spots on the back. But not too many. The fur is long and soft.
  26. nathaliewhite
    Entry- I would like to enter my cat Isis. I think resembles a colorpoint shorthair. She is now 2 and her colors have all came out. People were giving kittens away one day and nobody wanted Isis so my mothers bestfriend took her only for the same day she wanted to throw her out. So I stepped in and took her, she fell asleep in my shirt on the car ride home. She was def too young to be separated from mama, maybe about 3 and a half to 4 weeks? I'm glad we saved her anyway, but I'd really love to know her bloodline. She used to be so white now she has all these spots on her it's pretty cool. But as I said, she really resembles a colorpoint short hair in her colors.
  27. RiparianTraced
    Hi, thank you for hosting this giveaway! I would also like to make an ENTRY for my 9-week old kitten, Naomi. We think she is an American Shorthair, but her tabby pattern hasn't fully come out yet. She has very distinct spots on her stomach. I would love to know what other breeds she has in her.
  28. sapphireblu76
    Entry- I'd like to test my 2 year old cat. He was found abandoned as a day old kitten, with a severe eye infection. I bottle fed him, treated his infection, and couldn't bring myself to adopt him out, lol. I'd love to know if he's got Maine Coon in his background. He's very talkative - in a very sing-song way - and fluffy. He's broken mackerel with white, and either smoke or lilac colored, with pale green/hazel eyes.
  29. AmyTheKittyMommy
    Percy is a Siamese lookalike who I adopted from a rescue organization. He’s 9 months old now, and an absolute sweetheart. However, I have always been curious about which breeds he is a mix of, since he has many Siamese traits but also some distinct traits that don’t fit the Siamese breed. I would also love to have insight into his health, to see how I can keep him healthy and happy.
  30. Jenannrooney
    Our cat Casper is what we call a “flamepoint siamese” I don’t think this is a recognized breed persay but identifies him. He is white with the ‘flame’ markings on his tail, head, paws and a teeny bit on his back. He has big blue eyes and has the siamese personality. He is only 4 & about a month ago out of the blue he could barely breath & his lips & tongue started turning blue (Soo scary!) we rushed him to the emergency vet & he has feline asthma. He is now on daily prednisone. It would be great to know more about his breed to see if possibly the prednisone + breed will make him more susceptible to complications & other problems. We love this cat so much & want to do everything we can to help our little boy. Entry.
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