Many of you will be familiar with the various companies that offer to decode some of the secrets of your DNA, but did you know it is also possible to do the same for your kitties? We decided to have a look at one of the companies offering this service in the UK, basepaws. In addition to trialling their service at the moment we’ve also managed to organise you all a $20 discount (Valid throughout August 2018) by using the code katzenworld during checkout.
My first thought was about having to take some kind of blood sample but I was soon very happy to read that this wasn’t necessary as thankfully DNA is not only found in blood cells. There are a number of options, the first and eaiest are samples of your cat’s hair follicles and for those of you with naked cats such as Peterbalds or Sphinx there is also the option to obtain cheek swabs.
As we can trace back the ancestry of Rennie and Freya through their cat association history we decided to test the DNA of Oliver & Nubia about whom we know very little in terms of their ancestry! Our test kits arrived quickly in the post and of we were to see what the kitties “think” about them!
Nubia: What’s up with the envelope?
Oliver & Renegade: Don’t know but my brother is starring at me!
Nubia: Perfectly in synch today I see…
Nubia: I wonder what this is…
Oliver: Me too!
Nubia: It’s called a CatKit to test our genetics?
Renegade: Well I know that I am an oriental shorthair but maybe we find out that you are actually a seal Nubia…! ;o
Nubia: How rude! 🙁
Renegade: But seriously… can I be tested too?!? Pretty please!
Nubia: Nope as you pointed out we already know that you are a noisy bugger!
Rennie: But it looks exciting!!!! Can you test me? Pretty please!
Nubia: Still nope… let us get on with the review!
Nubia: So how does this work? Do I have to lick it? o.o
Renegade: You shall see… ;o
Nubia: Ok… can we swap the testing over to you Rennie?
Renegade: Nope it’s all yours now. 😀
Nubia: Hmmmm it’s not actually bad at all… Gets rid of a lot of my loose hair. 😀
Nubia: That’s a lot of hair! I didn’t even feel that.
Renegade: I just checked out their website and it says its important that there are hair follecials attached to your hair so that there is actually genetic material. Can you check if there is?
Nubia: Yep there is plenty of that!
Nubia: Oliver it’s your turn!!!! 😀
Oliver: Ok ok! But I’ll have my treat first
*a few minutes after*
Nubia: Right! We are all ready now and the completed kits have gone back in the envelope to go back to basepaws! 😀 Currently it takes between 2 – 6 months to get our reports back depending on the complexity of our DNA checks.
Rennie: Also the humans have kindly prepared some further details for you all below!
How does basepaws create its Catkit results?
In order to decipher your cat’s DNA, it needs to be compared to other cats. For every cat trait, basepaws will compare your cat to a different number of cats depending on how simple or complex the trait is.
Sometimes a trait is very simple: it is caused by a single gene mutation, like the missing tails on the Manx cat. When only one gene is responsible, it is easier for them to pinpoint the location of a trait to your cat’s DNA. You will receive reports about traits like this as soon as ten or more cats with the same trait have joined Basepaws.
However, many of your cat’s health and personality traits are determined by multiple genes. For instance, there could be 5, 20, or even 100 genes that each contribute a little bit to your cat’s outspoken personality. Traits like this will take 100 or more similar cats to locate the responsible genes.
How does basepaws work?
Almost every cell in your cat’s body contains your cat’s unique genetic code. This DNA is inherited from your cat’s parents, which they inherited from all of their ancestors!
Your cat’s DNA contains more than 20,000 genes, which are spelled out in a unique genetic code that is around 2,700,000,000 letters (nucleotide bases) long. Basepaws takes this DNA and uses sequencing machines to readand record these letters.
While more than 99% of your cats DNA will be similar to that of other cats we are looking for the genes that are different. Some sections of their DNA will contain genes that have already been studied and are linkedto specific diseases or physical traits. Other sections of DNA contain genes that are unknown, and every cat’s DNA will bring basepaws and the feline medical world one step closer to identifying the purpose of these genes and why they matter for all cats.
What do I get in the report?
Basepaws uses your cat’s information to generate an easy-to-read report about their DNA. In fact basepaws will continue to update your cat’s report as they learn more — look for CONSTANT updates from them as they have new discoveries about the genetics of your cat.
Once you are part of the Basepaws family, your cat will receive a lifetime of benefits. This includes report updates, newslettersand 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.
How is basepaws different from other genetic testing providers?
Most other genetic tests only screen for “what is already known.” As scientists discover new genes and traits, you will need to get the DNA tested again and again. Unfortunately, very little is currently known about cat genetics. Other cat and dog DNA tests only screen for a LIMITED number of different traits and/or diseases. Unlike their competitors, Basepaws actually sequences your cat’s DNA – even the DNA they know nothing about. They save this data, and as we learn more about what these unknown genes are doing, they will be able to tell you more and more about your cat.
What will basepaws tell me about my cat today?
Using what is currently known about cat genomes, they can tell you how closely RELATED your cat is to select cat breeds and wildcats. They can also identify if your cat has abnormalities in a few important genes, although there are not many cat genes that have been studied.
Cat genetics has been mostly ignored by scientists (with the exception of a few amazing pioneers in this space!), who often focus on mice and dogs. Basepaws was created to help fix this knowledge gap.
What will basepaws tell me in the future about my cat?
Within the next year, basepaws will be able to tell you more comprehensively about your cat’s breed and genetic predispositions for diseases. Your cat’s personality and physical traits will also be covered in the reports. They will use their predictive algorithms to help you identify the diets and products that are most appropriate for your furry friend.
Of course what exactly they can tell you tomorrow depends upon how many cats join us today. The more cats join Basepaws, the more the CatKit reports will grow.
As basepaws is still in open beta it means that your cats will become the early pioneers of cat genetic testing which will in the future help other cat owners by giving them information on health and genetic traits that could help save lives of cats. Similar to genetics in humans knowing sufficient cat genetics and it’s information to certain traits and inherited disorders can help veterinaries and basepaws with customised health plans for your cats. From a simple dietary plan that is more in line with the metabolism & digestive system of your cat to spotting genetic diseases that could cause problems in the future if no preventative care is taken there are many possibilities to how this can help cats all around the world.
Currently available as part of their Alpha Report are your cat’s Breed Index and the Wild Cat Index! You can find out more about this on the basepaws blog. There are loads of interesting facts on these two indexes on their blog so we’d highly recommend checking it out!
As you can see from their timeline there are more and more interesting reports coming soon so we for one are very excited to learn more about Oliver & Nubia through their genetic profiles! As an early adopter of basepaws you will get a lifetime of updates for your cats and most importantly are helping to build up a database of cat genetics that will help the medical world make advancements in feline medicine. And don’t forget if you do decide to order your kit you can get $20 USD of the $95 USD CatKit price by using katzenworld during checkout for your basepaws CatKit. (Valid throughout August 2018)
We will be back with an update when we get our reports! 🙂