I Tried the BasePaws Cat DNA Kit. Should You?
So if you read titles, which I sure hope you do, then you know this is my review of BasePaws. If you don’t read titles, hopefully this first sentence caught you up to speed, or at least allowed you to understand what you were doing here in this awesomely awesome blog! Regardless, I had the opportunity to test out BasePaws and do a complete review of it for my wonderful audience.
The first question some of you may be asking is, what is BasePaws? Well, they are a company who has developed DNA kits for cats! But more than that, their DNA kits are ever-growing and ever-evolving. These kits will also tell you about your cat’s health risks, it’s wildcat traits, and even more, as they continue to evolve!
I do need to say that I have been a fan of this company, since the first time they appeared in my Explore Tab on Instagram. And I was a fan of them ever since. They have even appeared on SharkTank which made me fangirl a little bit. And while I love(d) (tricky, tricky! Do I still love them? Find out below!) them, I still want to be completely honest with you. I want to give you the positives and the negatives to expect when doing this so you can really make a smart decision on how you want to spend your money.
I’ve been there, I’ve been screwed over by people who just want to make an extra nickel! And that is NOT me! As I’m sure most of you know by now! Newbies…that is not me! There! Now you know. But back to BasePaws, I have tried very hard to be as objective as possible with their product and hope you get a lot of value out of this.
If you don’t feel like reading my whole review and are already sold on the product just because I am talking about it, you can get an additional $10 off your order if you use code LLAPTRIBE. If you don’t immediately trust me, which I still understand, I will also post that code later on in case you forget.
Alright, I have rambled enough! I am going to first talk to you about the Basepaws process so you can get a feel for what to expect. So when you purchase your kit, they have you fill out your name, address, and everything. A few days, maybe a week, go by and you get a little package delivered to your door. This package is your BasePaws kits! Yay! So what you then do is open it, read the instructions and you’re all ready to go.
The short version of the instructions is you will get this long Q-Tip looking object and a bottle of liquid at the bottle. Your task is to swap the inside of your kitten's mouth for about 5 seconds. The reason I mention this part to everyone is if you have a cat that does NOT like to be held, this will be the most difficult part of the DNA for you. After you get the saliva, you put the Q-Tip into the solution, do some dances and shakes, and send it off.
Want to know one of the coolest things about this box? You send it off IN THE SAME BOX! No having to find a bag, or trying to salvage an old one to reuse. You just put it back in the containers it tells you to, close it up and send it on its merry way.
When I did this process, I did it with my cat, Phoebe, which hopefully you all know and adore as much as I do. The only thing hard to handle about Phoebe is getting her to pose enough for pictures, so getting a saliva swap was a piece of cake! We got the whole process (not including photo-opt time) in about 10 minutes. If you include the attempted photo session, it was about 45 minutes. I told you, Phoebe does not want to be a model! I don’t get it!
After The Kit
Once you send your kit off, you will receive a notification on your phone or via email, when BasePaws receives the package. They then begin the process of analyzing, sequencing, and doing other scientific stuff to tell you all about your cat.
Obviously, not much for us to do during this time except sit and wait while the scientists were busy at work. However, once that process is done you receive your report! They notify you via email that your results are in and you can go see all about your cat!
So, I am going to tell you about Phoebe’s results more so now, because each set of results will be unique to your cat. All reports do start out the same though. They start with a summary, your breed groups, similar breeds, and then move on to your health markers.
The summary page pretty much does just that. It gives you a high-level overview of what to expect continuing on learning about Phoebe. At first glance, you don’t really understand it, but that’s why they made a whole report about it! They start out with the actual chromosomes and then break them out into the percentage of the different groupings of the cat breeds.
I will be completely transparent and say I glossed over this page because we all know I just want the meat! So if you skip this part too, I won’t judge you! Especially because of the page after that where it is AT!
Phoebe’s Breed Report
They break out the groupings (Western, Eastern, Exotic, and Persian) and rank the breeds that are the most similar to your cat. Basically, they say what breeds (yes, breeds) your cat is closest to. In Phoebe’s case, she was a majority Western, and they then ranked the different types of Western Cats in their system to how closely she matches with them. And then does the same with each of the different groups.
So, we learned that Phoebe was closest to a Norwegian Forest Cat, followed closely by an American Shorthair. We also learned she had small parts of Peterbald, a hairless cat breed, Bengal, and Exotic shorthair. This was really what made it all worth it for me.
If you have read Phoebe’s post, you know that I found her. Therefore, I never really got to know about her past. I had so many ideas as to what different breeds she was, but never a real answer. I figured she was part American Shorthair, but I always wondered if she had some Maine Coon in her, or maybe some Ragdoll. What I have never considered was a Norwegian Forest! Which I think is SO cool!
Phoebe’s Health Markers
This part is probably going to be the most rewarding part for some people, but for me, it was a fairly quick analysis. There are currently 17 different health tests that they do, using the said test. Phoebe was cleared for all of them.
So this part was not as big of a deal for me. But don’t get me wrong, I was so extremely happy to see that she was cleared from all 17! But for others who are not so lucky, this could be a really good way of learning about things going on with your cat that you may not have known otherwise. It was definitely the most worrisome part for me, but a diagnosis for issues is the first step to getting it resolved!
My Positive Thoughts,
Now that you have an idea with what to expect from the kit, I want to talk with you guys about my thoughts overall. I loved how simple this kit was to use and required the most minimal effort to get what we wanted! The kit came to my doorstep, the box had easy to read and easily understood instructions and even had a way for us to get it back to them.
It was quick, easy and as I said before, the longest part was trying to get Phoebe to look cute in photos for it! (Sorry BasePaws, I failed you on that one. But that’s life! Phoebe’s a rebel Norwegian Forest Cat).
I also loved the report overall. They had a summary which allowed to kind of see what you were getting into. It gave you enough information to keep your interest without throwing everything right into your face. From the summary, you could then go straight to the sections you were most interested in. Whether it be the DNA strands, the cat breeds, the health markers, or whatever else new they continue to add on.
It was an easy to understand report that really gave me the answers that I didn’t realize how hard I was searching for. And in talking with some friends about the report, it led us into even more discussions about what other cats could be. We were fairly off by Phoebe, what else is hiding behind their closet doors?! And finding out Phoebe’s breeds was really just the cherry on top. You can’t get more positive than that.
My Negative Thoughts
Now, this wouldn’t be a true review if I didn’t include some negative thoughts along with my positive ones. And I do want to give a true review to you guys so I’m going to be blatantly honest. My biggest negative with this whole thing was the wait time from the time you sent the box until the time you get the report. For me, it was about 8 weeks. And, I will say that they do inform you of the wait time on their website.
But for me, I was just so excited to hear about Phoebe, that 8 weeks felt like 8 years! I am sure a lot of that has to do with the actual DNA research behind it, but if you wanted to know my biggest negative that was it. It wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, it was just like a little kid waiting for Christmas.
The only other negative thing that I could say about the report is this. I wish there were more distinct indicators about her breeds. This was my first DNA test, human included, so I’m not sure exactly if I’m expecting something different. But I would have loved to see the clearcut lines of Phoebe is 40.3% Norwegian Forest, 38.73% American Shorthair, and so on. Instead of how closely she was to the other breeds.
Now, I do need to say that this was based on my own assumptions of what DNA tests look like. I could be completely off base with what to expect. And if that’s the case, then it’s more negative on me than on the kit. But, you asked and I would rather be honest and wrong than withhold my thoughts.
If I had to do it again, I would definitely. And honestly, I probably will. Not for Phoebe, of course, but perhaps using it as gifts for fellow cat owners, or testing out Wobbles if I can get her to hold still for long enough. For me, the cons were really not large enough to cause me any grief. And I’m partially not even sure if their negatives can be that negative. I am not sure how much one can really speed up the DNA extraction and sequencing process.
They had a lot of valuable insights that spark a lot of great conversations with friends and let us to even more curiosity about their pets. My ending thought would be, you want to know your own ancestry and you probably even know some links to your past. You know very little about your kitten's history, this is how you can learn all about it. It was definitely worthwhile for me!
And again, if you are interested in purchasing a BasePaws kit, they were kind enough to allow me to give my readers a discount code. If you use LLAPTRIBE, you can get an additional $10 off your kit! And with how this kit is growing in popularity, these prices will not last forever!