Hey Pet Parents & Pet Lovers,
The time has come and I have gotten my hands on Beau’s DNA results. If you’re new to the blog or haven’t heard about Basepaws here’s a little catchup on our experience:
Our adventure started just before October 22, 2017. I was contacted by a member of Basepaws in hopes of having me review the product. I wasn’t interested at first, because the concept of checking your cat’s DNA sounded weird to me, but after reading Basepaw’s write-up (mentioning that they hope to be able to tell you certain qualities your pet may have or health issues your cat may have in the future) I quickly changed my mind and became interested. I’m always interested in trying to learn everything I can about my cats. I want to make sure I’m on top of their health and have the knowledge and resources I need before anything happens to them.
At initial glances at their e-mail, I thought Basepaws was much further along in their process. My understanding (or I guess assumption) was that they had equipment and samples and that they were going to give a fast result. (Similar to Human DNA tests). But this wasn’t true. Basepaws was truly in its infancy, which is exciting, but it does come at a fairly high cost for a “trial-phase.”
On February 19, 2018, I got an e-mail from Anna at Basepaws. You can read all about it in this post. To summarize, they weren’t able to extract any DNA from Beau’s samples so they asked me if I would like to try again. I said yes, and they also included 3 CatKits for some of our readers. I will say, it’s fantastic that they would give me a replacement, but I did lose some trust in the process when I got that e-mail. Now, I’ll admit I don’t know how many DNA kits don’t work out and I’m not a very science-oriented person, so I might just be ragging on them too hard. But, when you’re going to spend $95 on a product, you would hope that it works… right? This sample was sent on March 20, 2016
On June 16, 2018, I got an e-mail saying that my CatKit was finally sequencing. They said that my delivery would be in about a week. Not much more information about this, but you can read my thoughts on it here.
And finally August 2, 2018, I got the e-mail that the results were here… but I haven’t opened them until this morning. Let’s go over everything I think about Basepaws:
What Basepaws is said to Offer/is Hoping* To Offer
Basepaws uses a lot of asterisks on their website, the thing is… nowhere does it explain what that means. I’ve scoured their site to find out, so if anyone has found out if it means that they are working on the product, let me know. That aside, their website currently states the fact that their CatKits will provide the following information:
- Simple Disease Markers*
- Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)*
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)*
- Comparative Markers*
- Complex Disease Markers*
- Personalized veterinary medicine*
- Maternal and Paternal Tracing*
- Breed Index *
- Family tree, Percent of breeds, percent breeds by chromosome*
- Send report to vet*
- Health and wellness assessments*
- Make decision-based on genetically similar cats*
- Wild Cat Index *
- Predicted weight*
- Predicted user submitted traits*
A pretty awesome list, eh? The unfortunate thing is, Basepaws has only released the two bolded features which while interesting, don’t really have the information I was hoping I’d get from the kits (at least not as of yet.) I do have faith that they will be able to provide that information but I’m curious when it’s going to happen and how the information will be interpreted for cats who participated before they knew how to understand that DNA. (I hope that makes sense.) I know they promise to update their older customers with the information they discover, however, what if the DNA gets damaged over time or they didn’t collect all the information they needed? Again, I’m not a scientist, but this is a worry as a customer who doesn’t understand DNA.
|Basepaws included a variety of cats Beau could be (actually 27), but all of them showed as fairly inconclusive making the final answer: he’s domestic. I don’t know if every vet has the same joke, but our vet always jokes around saying that it’s never worth asking what breed your cat is… because it’s always going to end up being “domestic” unless it’s a very clear breed like a ragdoll.
Before I go into my specific results, let me tell you… Basepaw’s system is so confusing. It’s not their website design or navigation, but their graphs, which is the most important part of the site! I honestly don’t understand why they chose to format their results this way, but I’m assuming it’s so they don’t give out specific numbers just in case the results are off… although… I don’t know…
Their instructions are as follows: The width of the marker indicates the exactness of our prediction. If your cat does not clearly match a breed, your cat is most likely a Domestic.
Okay… is it just me or are you confused about that too? I mean, I get that the more it leans to one side, the more likely it is that your cat is that breed, but when you look down at my results Beau is a lot more likely to be an Abyssinian and a lot less likely to be an Abyssinian… what does that even mean!?
It’s funny because their Wild Cat section breaks everything down into percentages… and that’s information I kind of find irrelevant. It’s cool to know that my cat is a “leopard cat”, but how does that information actually help me?
The thing that irks me is the fact that I’ve seen a number of people’s results and their shockingly similar to Beau’s and if they aren’t… well they’re equally as confusing. To this day I haven’t seen anyone with results that show that a cat is absolutely a specific breed. Again, this might be because most of our cats are mixed breeds, but still… you’d think that there were clearer differences.
Currently priced at $95, Basepaws is a very steep price for an unfinished product. I’m appreciative to have been given the chance to try the product for free, but I don’t think I would purchase this product or try it on my second cat. I’ve also seen many complaints that there are no deals for buying multiple CatKits. It’s a great marketing trick that a lot of companies do, and honestly, it works really well for me. If I know that you’re going to give me a little back for buying more… I’m a happy customer! I know a lot of my readers own multiple cats and this can get mighty expensive if they were going to test all of them!
I would recommend waiting a few more years to see where this company goes before buying a CatKit. Thing is: they have their heart in the right place and are probably working very hard… it’s just not ready for the price that they’re asking for… I do like their tactic of contacting pet blogs to review their product in hopes of raising more awareness and collecting some extra samples along the way. That’s a great choice, however… you might have wanted to get more samples before approaching blogs.
So… do you dislike Basepaws?
In the state it’s in right now, I’m not so happy with it. I will say I’m still very hopeful that they are going to turn this around and be able to provide some amazing information, I just think it’s going to take more time than I originally thought.
I’m personally very interested in the Health section, including the Complex Disease Markers and Simple Disease Markers. The Ancestry stuff doesn’t really interest me too much (since not even human ancestry really interests me.) I will say, they have amazing customer support and have responded fairly quickly to all my e-mails.
Do you think Basepaws is a Scam?
No. I will say, there was some time I thought that they were a scam. I was worried they were collecting a bunch of money and weren’t going to return results. I actually got a fair number of e-mails about the product asking me for updates so folks could get refunds. I’ll tell you the same thing I told them and the same thing that I’ve said throughout this review: I think their heart is in the right place, but they’re not ready. Basepaws needs to be promoted as a startup. They send a lot of update newsletters, but from the beginning, they were telling us that we would have full results between 2-4 weeks. My whole wait time has been over 10 months. 10 MONTHS to get my preliminary results. That’s not a great way to start off this adventure.
What do you think? Have any of my winners gotten their results back yet? Let me know!
UPDATE – MARCH 2019
Basepaws has officially revamped their genetic report and has sent new information. The reports now include the following:
- Information on how to read the report
- A summary of the breeds/wildcats our cat is similar to
- The breeds which my cat potentially belongs to
- A breakdown that shows how much my cat matches these breeds
- A specific breakdown of the 3 top breeds
- Health & Wellness information
THE NEW REPORT FORMAT
I will say, the newest version of the reports is much easier to understand and read.
My biggest problem with the original format was how confusing the graphs were, and while I read over the instructions a few times over… I still had to question if I was reading the charts right.
Overall, Basepaws seems to have done a much better job actually explaining their process in this report and actually dive deeper into how they came up with the results.
The first page shows images of the top 3 breeds your cat is similar to and then the 4 Wildcats in order of similarity. It doesn’t show any percentages, however, is a good introduction to what you’re going to be seeing over the next few pages.
The second page then shows a breakdown of the chromosome map, which to be honest is great information to have, although I personally get a bit of a headache trying to understand it. It is cool, however, to see the data placed this way.
BEAU’S NEW RESULTS
The following is the information Basepaws has provided in regards to Beau’s genetics
- 34.88% Polycat (Mixed Breed)
- 27.30% Eastern
- 22.48% Western
- 15.34% Hybrid (A cat who is part wild & domestic)
TOP 3 BREEDS
- 84.43% more similar to Maine Coon than other cats
- 83.82% more similar to British Shorthair than other cats
- 78.33% more similar to American Shorthair than other cats
It’s no surprise to me that Beau is some sort of shorthair… I mean look at him! That being said, we have called him a British Shorthair in the past, so it’s good to see it rank so high on the breed list.
Now, I don’t know where they are getting the Maine Coon from, to be honest. We all know that Beau was a street cat, although we will never actually know his origins. Were his parents street cats? Was he originally a domesticated cat who ran away?
That being said, he does have a bit of a “raccoon tail” but to me, that’s not enough to be a “Maine Coon.”
Beau is a very small cat. He’s actually the smallest out of all of the cats in my family. He also doesn’t show any physical resemblances of Main Coons, so I’d be interested in why he placed here.
SPECIFIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE BREEDS
The following was some of the information given about the breeds that matched and didn’t match Beau as well as some cool additional information.
Match: Very Muscular (was true of Beau), heavily boned
Don’t Match: Usually around 20lbs, largest and heaviest cat breed, thick uneven double-layered coat, bushy tail, long whiskers, often have extra toes
Additional Information: Higher risk of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) which is a progressive disease that often results in heart failure, sudden death and paralysis of the hind legs.
Match: Large solid chunky body, strong legs, broad head, large piercing eyes, easygoing, patient temperament, prone to obesity
Additional Information: Seseptible to polycystic kidney disease and HCM
Match: Outgoing; friendly; hunter; a dense coat that is gold, brown, cameo or calico; large eyes that are hazel, blue, copper or gold; social; laid-back; affectionate; gets along with other pets
Don’t Match: Not a lap cat
Additional Information: they were originally used as mice hunters, prone to craniofacial defects such as crooked jaws and misaligned teeth
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Honestly, this section is pretty dumb, to be honest. It’s filled with a bunch of information you would already know to do with your pet… let me share some of the headers…
- Visit Your Vet
- Keep Your Cat at a good weight
- Clean Their Teeth
- Provide Water Daily
- Exercise your cat’s body and mind
- Proper Nutrition will increase their life expectancy
- Give your cat mini exams at home
Seriously? This is the health and wellness section? What did I learn? Nothing.
This seems so shameful after the beautiful breakdowns they provided and honestly… I wish this wasn’t included, because again… it’s so unhelpful!
I guess I’m still waiting on the other information they said they would provide regarding health, but man… what a letdown!
FINAL THOUGHTS FOR THE MARCH 2019 REPORT
I will say that this version of Basepaws is much, much, much better. Although I don’t agree that Beau is anywhere near similar to a Maine Coon, the other two choices are fairly similar and Beau is actually showing some signs of the health concerns mentioned.
If you don’t know our family well, you may not know that Beau actually has a heart murmur which we’ve been warned may progress into a heart disease that will ultimately take his life. Our vet has said that there’s nothing we can really do about it other than monitor it and try to condition him when the time comes, although this genetics test is helping give me the impression that no matter what… this may a way we lose our dearest one.
Basepaws really redeemed itself for me by breaking down everything and showing the process of how chromosomes were analyzed and how they got the results they displayed in the first version, so really great work there!
I’m still not fully sold on Basepaws, especially when it got to the last bit of the report, but at this point, I would say… hey… this may be worth it!
I’m officially very excited for more information to come out on the website, especially if it’s going to be in the format that has been shown. So, keep doing what you’re doing basepaws.
I’m curious to hear about your experiences so far with basepaws? What are your results looking like! Let me know in the comments below.