When we heard about Basepaws and the cat DNA test called Catkit, our tech antenna started buzzing with interest. This isn’t simply a quick turnaround DNA test with a few insights, it is much more and its potential impact on cat health worldwide will be considerable.
DashKitten.com received a complimentary Basepaws Catkit DNA Testing Set for review. We only share news and products we feel are relevant to our readers, because you matter to us. The opinions here are 100% our own and we are responsible for the content of this post. We also have a special offer for readers on the CatKit – see below. [Affiliate link].
The goal of Basepaws? Exploration, discovery, and help for cats worldwide.
What is DNA?
First. For those who don’t know much DNA and science. Here’s a super fast and easy science lesson!
The following definitions will give you a basic understanding of what genetics is. These words will appear in any online discussion or written report on genetics. You don’t have to know the fine print or the complex details. These terms apply to cats as well as the popular human genetic tests you see may see advertised.
1. Genome This is the complete set of genes or genetic material present in a cell or organism. You are made up of cells so, if you are a cat, you are a lot of cat DNA!
2. DNA (de-oxy-ribo-nucleic acid) “This is a long molecule that contains each of our cat’s (and humans) unique genetic code. Like a recipe, it holds the instructions for making all the proteins in our bodies” – YG
DNA is your own cat code book
The cat DNA test Catkit uses the order, known as the sequence, of the DNA to read your cat’s personal genetic make up. Cats carry their history, coat colour, eye colour and millions of other variables in their genes. It is all wrapped up in Adenine: Thymine, Cytosine and Guanine (if you really want to know).
The Cat DNA Test
What you need to do to collect your cat’s DNA
The cat DNA test instructions are clear and detailed in the pdf here. Please read the instructions carefully before you start. This way you know exactly what you need to do.
- 1 swab
iSWAB sample collection device
Plastic “biohazard” bag with absorbent pad
“Exempt Animal Specimen” label
Outer box to mail sample
2 adhesive strips on a folded card
After you have followed the procedure to get the fur and oral sample (I told you to read the instructions!) you send off your cat DNA test in the envelope provided. The waiting time depends on how many kits are being processed at any time. Shipping is free within the USA and costs should be very modest for the rest of the world as the posted item is lightweight and small.
What Happens When Your Catkit Arrives at Basepaws?
The tech staff at Basepaws record the information in your cat DNA test. You receive a printed report, and your DNA profile is kept on the database. When new developments and discoveries occur in feline genetics – you will be updated.
Your DNA is compared with the other cat results stored on the computer. 99% of the sequences will be similar to every other cat. It is the differences that make your cat unique that will stand out.
• PRO TIP Early adopters of the DNA test kit get in on the ground floor and receive permanent free updates.
So that you get an idea of the scale of DNA reading and interpretation, the first human genome took years and millions of dollars to sequence. Basepaws knows we don’t have a million dollars so they sequence a selection of 27,000,000,000 nucleotides. For tech folks, these nucleotides form the basic structural unit of the nucleic acids in DNA. A report is then generated and sent to you.
Thanks to the Morris Animal Foundation and a recent article on transcriptomics, we have also been able to add an interesting link that gives you insights into the finer details of how genes are read. When genes are read these readouts are called ‘transcripts’, hence the art of ‘transcriptomics’.
“Researchers study the transcriptomes of cells as a way to gain insight into how genes function and what their expression means for a cell’s ability to do its job under normal conditions.”
You Get Your Catkit Results Back. What Do They Say?
There will be plenty for you to review in the Report but, rest assured, it will be non-technical and easy to read.
- You receive health and wellness assessments
- There will be care tips from genetically similar cats
- You can have a report sent to your vet if you wish
- You join the database and share the discoveries made and how these relates to your cat’s health
The Report has a light hearted side too. After all cats love to have fun!
- Wild cat ancestry index. How close are we to our wild ancestors? Tiger genes anyone?
- Predicted weight
- Cat Traits
- Catnip response – are you an addict?
The ancestry information will provide a few ‘heads up’ indicators.
- Possible In-breeding
- Information for those hoping to trace a maternal or paternal line
- Family tree with a percentage of breeds
The core of the DNA Report is its health information. It will show simple disease markers including:
- Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
- Comparative Markers
- Complex Disease Markers
It is important to remember that an indication of the presence of an unusual gene does not mean cats have or will get a specific condition. It means they may be more prone to it. As the Basepaws genetic base grows and more discoveries are made, our cat knowledge increases and cats and owners will be informed of changes and developments relevant to their cat family.
Special Note: Basepaws have a separate research section for cats with specific conditions. Kits are free for cats who meet very specific criteria. At the moment, IBS, Asthma, or other genetic diseases are under examination. Please check at the link if you believe you may qualify.
To maintain clinical accuracy, veterinary records are part of the submission requirements for applicants. This project is available thanks to grants from committed cat enthusiasts and small companies.
Who are Basepaws?
Let us introduce you to Basepaws. They are a cat DNA testing company aiming to make a real difference. Not only do they want to help humans understand cats better, they dream bigger. Much bigger. They intend to collate millions of cat DNA samples world wide and invest in the science that will help make cat lives better.
This is not a fancy corporate ‘mission statement’. Without going into lots of ‘ifs….‘ and ‘what happens….‘ scenarios relating to science: as its genetic database grows, Basepaws can help discover what triggers certain conditions. They aim to help uncover why some cats are resistant to illness while others are not. How things like FIP can be made a thing of the past. Or at least how we can fight back from a position of much greater strength
Basepaws are cat people on a mission, and you can meet a lot of the staff here. Every one is a cat lover and many have their own cats at home. They don’t just process kitty DNA and send it back to you with ‘what is there right now’. Basepaws cares about cats and wants to use science to make an impact on feline futures.
Cat Genetics Made Simple (sort of!)
Plenty of people will see the words ‘DNA’, and ‘science‘ and get ready to run but let’s make one thing clear. This is not scary science. We have discovered that this simple home DNA test could transform the lives of cats worldwide. The impact could be far beyond the first personal cat DNA kit report you receive from Basepaws.
We know that for many people cat genetics used to mean cat coat patterns, or cat ancestry. A breeder will select a cat with a beautiful coat to help produce more kittens of a similar type. BUT, and it is a big but, there is so much more to cat genetics than coat colour. For many of us, approachable science is mainstream because of the excitement of headliners like Cassini, the NASA Mars landers, and John Hopkins DNA research to catch human cancers earlier.
Here’s something you might not know about most cat and dog DNA tests
They only screen for a limited number of different traits and/or diseases. We confess this struck us as being slightly scary. What if you get bad news – right? Basepaws does not ‘cherry pick’ your DNA for the best/worst news. The one thing we found both amazing and reassuring was that Basepaws sequences every single thing and, if something that is discovered from their extensive research that relates to your report – they will let you know.
- One day there will be a name, a definition and a function for each piece of the genetic puzzle. Every single gene is recorded by Basepaws, even the ones science doesn’t have a name or function for yet! They are ready for science reveals more of its secrets.
Catkit Cost and Updates
The cost of the Catkit (includes collection materials, reports, and report updates) is $75 plus free USA shipping or a modest flat rate for international orders. You can pay via credit car or Paypal.
Special CatKit offer to DashKitten readers: You will receive $25 off your Catkit with you use the coupon code ‘dashkitten‘
IMPORTANT: Basepaws doesn’t just use the cat test to give you a breakdown of your cats’ sequenced DNA, discuss a bit of cat ancestry, and then walk away. They will keep you informed as more is discovered about cat genetics. This is a key part of the process and one you should value. As an early adopted you are definitely getting value for money. Early adopters currently have free access to updates forever. (n future there may be a charge.
The Dash Kitten CatKit Results
As the cat DNA test data takes some time to process, we do not have our own kit’s data available yet. We intend to do a full report to follow up on our test results early in 2018 so look out for that.
Mum says we are part panther, although Sienna our Tortie, disagrees and wants a dash of Lynx in the mix! What would you like to see in your kitty DNA?
Marjorie Dawson and
Cat DNA Test Researchers
Further Reading on DNA and Genetics
The Cat Fancy Association has a long list of tips and explanations about feline genetics as it refers to cat and kitten coats. This is worth a look if you are primarily interested in how kittens get their colouring. Note: Basepaws and the CatKit goes into much greater depth than the cat coat conundrum!
Genetics is a complex subject but Berkley.edu has a page as part of one of its courses. This covers the more technical side of cat genetics and coat colour. It is an interesting read for those with a little science background.
The Winn Foundation has a short technical piece from 2010 that gives an idea of the complexity of genetics relating specifically to FIP. It also gives an idea of the impact positive genetic research could have on cat health. Your cat DNA test can do good.