By Amanda Carrozza, Featured in American Veterinarian
The use of at-home canine DNA and genetic testing kits has become more common in recent years. These kits, which can be ordered online for under $100, provide dog owners with details about their pet’s breed(s) makeup as well as genetic diseases or traits to which their dog might be predisposed. Now the time has finally come for cat owners to learn their pets’ ancestry as well. Does Fluffy have traces of a regal Persian in her family tree? Or perhaps some of the notable traits of an energetic Bengal?
For the first time, direct-to-consumer DNA testing for cats is available through Basepaws, which promises to provide cat owners with breed information and actionable health insights comparable to information to which dog owners might currently have access. The startup is debuting its genetics testing platform at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
“DNA research has revealed a vast amount of useful, often life-saving information for humans,” said Anna Skaya, founder and CEO of Basepaws. “We want to facilitate those same kinds of breakthroughs for cats.”
Using DNA from the animal’s hair and cheek cells, Basepaws is able to provide a cat’s genetic breakdown, including the breeds contained in the cat’s DNA—and can even determine any wild cat genes which is part of the mix. According to Basepaws, as more cat owners use the test kits and add to the growing database, future reports will be able to link results with potential diseases and nutrition needs. These expanded reports are expected to be made available to users as early as this year.
The company hopes that Basepaws will become a resource in which cat owners, as well as veterinarians and breeders, can work together to learn more about feline health and aid in the eradication of preventable, fatal diseases. On a smaller scale, Basepaws said its services will also make day-to-day life simpler for cat owners, starting with selecting the right diet.
“A simple DNA test can make it easier to identify which traits are linked to health conditions like heart disease and obesity,” the company said in a press release. “As this information becomes available, Basepaws’ updated reports can save pet owners the time and cost of trial and error, using veterinary research to shed light on the best foods for certain breeds.”
Before Basepaws, the most widely promoted genetic testing for cats was provided by My Cat DNA, which is targeted toward breeders and provides information about blood type, coat color and length, body type, and inherited feline diseases.
“Our reports connect owners with insights about their cat’s breed,” Skaya said. “The technology is there to change how we approach our beloved pets' well-being.”