What Could Your Cat’s DNA Uncover?

October 22, 2018 Purringtonpost

This article is the first of a two (possibly three) part series about DNA testing for your cat(s).

We’ve been big fans for a while now of the work being done at Basepaws – a California based company that make direct to consumer genetic tests for cats.  They offer a simple, easy-to-use home DNA test (CatKit) that you can order online.

When your kit arrives you collect a sample of your cat’s hair using the special adhesive strip included and mail it back to them for in-depth DNA analysis.

The Basepaws team do the DNA extraction and sequencing from your cat’s hair sample and a few weeks later you’ll receive a personalized report of your cat’s genetic profile.

Here’s a ‘behind the scenes’ look at their Cat DNA Testing lab in Los Angeles, California to learn about how your Cat’s DNA test is handled, tested, and processed.

We should mention that in parallel the Basepaws team gather and aggregate all the data from the various cat tests they receive for ongoing analysis into drug discovery and pharmaceutical research in the hope of one day eradicating genetic disease in all felines. It’s a win/win for all.

Gotta say … we love their tagline: “One simple cat DNA test, a lifetime of discovery.”   And yes, we just mailed in our kits for Newman (left) and Mouse and will report on the findings in the next update.

The initial DNA results you’ll receive are called the ‘Alpha Report’ and will include Wild Cat Index and Breed Index.  This report includes 26 popular cat breeds, with more to come. Cat breeds which have been compared to your cat are listed in order of best match.  It also includes comparisons of your cat to 16 different wild cats. As with breed, wild cats that have been compared to your cat are listed in order of best match.

The best news is that once you’re part of the Basepaw’s database, your CatKit report updates will continue to grow with your cat as new discoveries are unveiled.

Testimonials

Wanting to dig deeper, we asked our pals at Basepaws if they would allow us to contact three of their recent clients to share with us their experience and findings in using the CatKit. They were delighted to oblige and so were the clients.

So without further ado…

1. Meet Anders

Anders is a domestic long hair born in August of 2016.  His mom (Stephanie) kindly gave us the lowdown on their DNA testing experience.  Adopted from the Kitty Bungalow-Charm School for Wayward Cats, this once feral cat from the streets of LA is the ultimate lap cat today!

When they first got this snuggly little bundle, the family thought Anders was a Maine Coon mix because of his appearance. When the CatKit test results came back… they took Stephanie by a complete surprise! [details below]

Q:  Did you find the Cat Kit test easy to take and submit?

The Cat Kit test was really easy to take with Anders. It’s non-invasive, which we really liked. And, didn’t take long to gather the DNA samples.

Q:  When did you receive your personalized Basepaw DNA results?

We were in the first rounds of results being released in 2018, so we had to wait a little bit longer than expected as the company finalized their results and worked on their presentation of the data. But, it was well worth the wait!

Q:  Can you tell us 3-4 things you learned about your cat that you never knew.

1. Anders has a lot of short-haired cat (Burmese and Egyptian Mau) in his history, despite all of his fluff!
2. He has Ragdoll in him! Initially, the rescue group said he was a Maine Coon mix, so we were surprised that we ended up with a Ragdoll instead.
3. The Wildcat Index shows he is related more to pumas and servals, which explains (along with the Burmese and Egyptian Mau) why his body is very lean but super strong. He looks a lot bigger than he is because he has so much fur.

Q:  What was the biggest surprise?

I think the biggest surprise was that the first two breeds listed were short-haired. With all of his floof, we expected to see something with long hair. The rescue group thought he might have Maine Coon in him because his brother definitely had more resemblances of a Maine Coon body type. His actual body is much smaller than what his fur lets on. Now, it makes sense that he’s not 15-20 pounds (like other Maine Coon mixes we’ve owned).

Q:  Will you be doing anything different in terms of your cat’s care going forward knowing the results you received?

Absolutely. Now that we know that he has Burmese and Egyptian Mau in him we know to be very careful when we give him new medications and be extra careful with his dental health. We figured he was a sensitive little guy, we found out that he has a plastic allergy, but now we know it’s not just a “fluke” that he is sensitive.

Q:  Now that your cat is part of the Basepaws database is there anything specific you’re anxious to learn from their upcoming 2019 report?

We’re definitely interested in the health reports. We’re overprotective pet parents. The more information we have that we can use to improve the lives of our kitties the better. If there are predispositions to diseases that we can be avoided, we would love to know.

Q:  Would you recommend other cat owners get their cat’s DNA tested? If yes, why?

Absolutely. Especially for pet parents of rescued animals. We don’t know where our kitties come from and don’t come with five generations (or more) or medical history. Having some insight into who our cats are is an invaluable tool to help owners provide optimal care for their cats.

Q:  Any final comments?

The only concern we have is having pet insurance companies use the information from DNA tests, like this one, to discriminate against kitties and refuse coverage or make coverage ridiculously high. The pet insurance companies have a lot of flexibility in what they can call a pre-existing condition (e.g., kitty colds), so despite being an excellent tool for pet parents and their veterinary support team, all this data should be used carefully and pet owners should consider the potential consequences of getting more detailed information about their pets.

Be sure to check out Ander’s whole family at their Instagram feed here => @keis.house.

2. Meet Lexie

Lexie is a one year old Abyssinian mix whose humom (Samantha) adopted her from a shelter in Woodbridge, NJ.  Here’s what Samantha shared with us about sweet Lexie:

Q:  Did you find the Cat Kit test easy to take and submit?

Yes, especially the second test or my second cat, they made it even more simple recently.

Q:  When did you receive your personalized Basepaw DNA results?

I received my results about 5 months after I sent them out. I ordered my first kit when Basepaws first started and they warned it would take about 6 months for the first couple of batches to be released. I just sent my second test out a month ago.

Q:  Can you tell us 3-4 things you learned about your cat that you never knew.

I learned about the multiple breeds found in her ancestry, with the Abyssinian being most dominant, hence the reason why she’s so crazy. I also learned how she was more similar to the clouded leopard than 99% of cats.

Q:  What was the biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise was the wild cat index. She is so similar to the leopard (99% more similar than other cats), lynx(98%) and lion 97%).

Q:  Will you be doing anything different in terms of your cat’s care going forward knowing the results you received?

I know to pay more attention to her eyes, teeth, and kidney function since those are common problems in her most dominant breed, the Abyssinian.

Q:  Now that your cat is part of the Basepaws database is there anything specific you’re anxious to learn from their upcoming 2019 report?

Yes I’m hoping to learn that she doesn’t carry some of the markers for some of the genetic health issues in her breed.

Q:  Would you recommend other cat owners get their cat’s DNA tested? If yes, why?

Definitely!!! It explains their personality quirks and gives you an idea about potential health issues that may pop up.

Q:  Any final comments?

I knew Lexie’s personality had to have something to do with her genetic makeup. I’ve cared for dozens of kittens. She is crazy! Even though I got her at like 5 weeks she still refuses to let me hold her, she’s completely nuts about food, and she’s just always been a bit on the wild side. She even looks a bit wild with her big eyes, long legs and lean body. She will eat literally anything that most cats wouldn’t eat from bread to a mango. She will steal food right out of your hand (or mouth) and run off with it while growling.

3. Meet Casper

Casper is 6 years old, he’s deaf and his DNA results came back showing him as a domestic shorthair + Ragdoll + Egyptian Mau.  Check out his IG feed at @adventures_with_casper.  Here’s what Casper’s mom Jessica shared with us:

Q:  Did you find the Cat Kit test easy to take and submit?

The Cat Kit was super easy to take and send in. The directions are super easy to follow with the step by step instructions.

Q:  When did you receive your personalized Basepaws DNA results?

My results came in exactly in the time frame expected.

Q:  Can you tell us 3-4 things you learned about your cat that you never knew.

He came back as part Ragdoll which was totally unexpected but makes so much sense! The wildcat index was super interesting to see which wildcats he is closest too. He also came back part Egyptian which was quite unexpected!

Q:  What was the biggest surprise?

Biggest surprise was the Ragdoll!

Q:  Will you be doing anything different in terms of your cat’s care going forward knowing the results you received?

Once we receive the health portion we will probably be changing care.

Q:  Now that your cat is part of the Basepaws database is there anything specific you’re anxious to learn from their upcoming 2019 report?

Definitely the health portion!

Q:  Would you recommend other cat owners get their cat’s DNA tested? If yes, why?

The people at Basepaws are very helpful with everything and will answer all questions!

Summary

First off a very special thanks to Jessica, Samantha and Stephanie for sharing their stories.

Not to be remiss, did we mention the part about DNA decoding being akin to rocket science? To put things into purrspective, your cat’s DNA contains more than 20,000 genes, which are spelled out in a unique genetic code that is around 2.7 billion letters (nucleotide bases) long.

Basepaws has to take this DNA and use sequencing machines to read and record these letters in order to provide a genetic footprint for your unique kitty. Pretty impressive stuff!  If you haven’t, please see the video above for a behind-the-scenes look at how the magic happens.

The three families profiled above are now part of the Basepaws family, and will receive a lifetime of benefits. This includes report updates, newsletters and articles about your cat’s DNA, access to the latest research on cat science, tools to connect owners of similar cats, and discounts on future products that will be specifically formulated for your cat’s genetic needs.

Get Started on Your Journey

Curious to find out more about your cat’s unique ancestry and begin your own journey of discovery?

  • Save $15 OFF the regular $95 price tag and get your CatKit for only $80 by using discount code purrington15 at checkout.

=> Order your CatKit here

Bonus: Anyone who purchases a CatKit in 2018 will get lifetime updates for free. This will change in 2019. Basepaws also offers a bulk discount for 4+ kits (contact them directly for details).

Here’s to unlocking the secrets of your cat’s unique genetic footprint.  >^..^<

 

The post What Could Your Cat’s DNA Uncover? appeared first on The Purrington Post.

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