A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Real Cat Paisley’s Basepaws Report


The results are in! We received the first report (the Alpha Report) from Real Cat Paisley’s Basepaws DNA testing just over a week ago, and boy, are we excited. This report includes information on how similar Paisley is to 16 wildcats and 27 domestic cats. In this post, we’ll share our experiences with the process and of course Paisley’s results.

Basepaws results

 Collecting the sample


Basepaws sends you a kit to collect fur from your cat; if you have a hairless cat, you get a swab to collect cheek cells. They also provide a postage-paid box to return your sample. You collect the fur with two pieces of clear tape that you stick onto your cat’s back and leave on for a few minutes. Paisley kept trying to reach around and get the tape off, so old SoLT had to hang on to her until the time was up. You then gently peel the tape off and join the sticky sides of the two pieces together to capture the fur between them. This process is not supposed to be painful for the cat, and Paisley didn’t seem too bothered by it, other than not enjoying having tape on her back.

When we ordered our kit, they were still sending cheek swabs for all cats, so we had to do this part as well. Paisley did not appreciate having that swab put in her mouth, and she did a lot of wiggling (a LOT of wiggling!). Old SoLT did the best she could, but she didn’t rub the cheek as thoroughly as the instructions said to. We suspect that a cat who is used to having their teeth brushed would accept this part more easily.

After you package everything up and send it off, you sit back and wait for the results.

What Basepaws does with your sample

When Basepaws receives your sample, they extract your cat’s DNA and sequence it. Just like humans, cats get their DNA from their parents, who got their DNA from their parents, and so on. DNA is pretty cool stuff. It is made up of building blocks called “bases,” and the order these bases appear in determines the genetic code. When Basepaws “sequences” your cat’s DNA, they’re figuring out the specific order of those bases.

Then they compare your cat’s sequence with the sequences of other cats. Over 99% of the sequence will be the same from cat to cat, so Basepaws is really looking for the tiny parts that set your cat apart.

Once they have done all the scientific work, they prepare a report that you can access through your account. Our Alpha Report included Paisley’s Breed Index (telling us what kind of cat she really is) and her Wild Cats Index (telling us what wild cats she shares a bit more DNA with). Basepaws is constantly refining their process, and they promise periodic report updates as they learn more.

Paisley’s Breed Index

We’ll admit that we hoped for a little surprise in Paisley’s breed, but the results show that she is as we truly suspected: a domestic shorthair. But there are a few breeds that she has a little more in common with than others, genetically speaking. Her top three matches are Maine Coon, Tennessee Rex (a breed we honestly had never heard of), and Tonkinese. So Paisley might have a teeny bit more in common with these breeds genetically, but the markers on her report fall squarely in the “Domestic” range.

Basepaws report
The result from the Maine coon portion of Paisley's report. She might have a little more in common
with this breed than with most others, but the blue marker falls squarely in the Domestic range--
so she's not a Maine coon! The narrow marker indicates a lower degree of certainty.
 
Of the 27 related breeds in the report, Paisley apparently has the least in common with the Peterbald.

Basepaws report
On the Peterbald portion of Paisley's report, the marker is wide and falls way down on the Less Likely end.
This means there is high certainty that she's not a Peterbald.

Paisley’s Wild Cats Index

On the wild side, Paisley’s top matches were the snow leopard (100%), the ocelot (100%), and the flat-headed cat (99%). Basepaws explained to us that a percentage above 50% means your cat shares more DNA with that wild cat than the average domestic cat does. This is probably due to random chance—it doesn’t mean that Paisley is a direct descendent of a snow leopard or ocelot! Paisley also has fairly high matches (above 80%) with the clouded leopard, Eurasian lynx, and leopard cat.

Paisley's snow leopard match
The snow leopard was one of Paisley's highest wild cat matches. This means that she has slightly more in
common genetically with snow leopards than the average domestic cat does. The similarity is probably
due to random chance and doesn't mean that Paisley has a snow leopard somewhere in her family tree.

Of the 13 related wild cats in the report, Paisley’s lowest matches were the serval (3%) and puma (1%).

Our reaction

We are immensely pleased with our experience with Basepaws. It took a few months longer than we expected to get the results, but Basepaws kept us updated with periodic emails to explain the delay (they were refining their process). Old SoLT is pretty patient about things like this and wasn’t bothered by it, but some people might be.

Besides the information in the report we received, we like knowing that this is just the first one; there will be more information to come as more cats have their DNA sequenced. Health, Traits, and Wellness reports are still in the works.

Another big plus is the customer service we received from Basepaws. The couple of times we had to ask questions, we got prompt and helpful answers, which we really appreciated.

And we appreciate knowing that Paisley is not secretly descended from an exotic breed, an heiress to a cat fortune of some sort. Honestly, old SoLT would not know what to do with an heiress. And you don’t have to be exotic to have an interesting ancestry. This process has made us think about how similar all cats really are. Within their DNA, all cats have an essential “catness” that comes from a long-ago ancestor, and we can’t stop thinking about how cool that is. Old SoLT is saving up to get a kit for Webster later this year.

Highly recommended!

We highly recommend Basepaws if you’re curious about your cat’s background. It could be especially interesting if you suspect your rescue kitty is part [insert suspected breed here]. We like knowing that Basepaws testing is not a one-and-done deal. You will find out even more about your cat in the future as new reports become available.

The kit is $95, and shipping is free in the US.

11 comments:

  1. That is very interesting. I would have liked to know Eric's background. Although Maine Coons are not as common in the UK, I am sure he must have had some somewhere along the line with his size and his attitude with life.

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  2. This is very interesting! We think it would be cool to find out what's in our DNA.

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  3. Real Cat Paisley, we all still think you are exotic, despite stoopy DNA results...
    *giggle*

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  4. Thanks for sharing. This was really interesting on how to check the background of our little ones through DNA. This step by step information will help out with pet owners to see what they can find with their animals DNA. Have a great day.
    World of Animals

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  5. How very interesting. I had never heard of a couple of these cats but what do I know. Paisley you are a wonderful kitty with quite the background.

    Jean

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  6. How cool is this. Would be interesting to know about my loopnicks, especially Raja, the orange polydactyl one. I had my own dna done, and the results were fascinating. Yael from PlayingInCatnip.com

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  7. This is SO cool, Paisley!!! Mommy has been a lazy bum about submitting my kit. I need to go yell at her now! --Mudpie

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  8. I am eagerly awaiting Millie's results, I have always thought he was part Siamese.

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  9. I am so glad you enjoyed the kit. I was so excited when we reviewed the kit. Basepaws are really friendly and, as you say, helpful and informative. Paisley has just gone up and up on our admiration scale!

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  10. How cool that they now have a DNA test for cats too! We had Luke's done, but I wonder if Sam might have some Maine Coon in her.
    Not sure if I can see it in the budget, but it would sure be fun to do.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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