As Glamour‘s West Coast editor, I never would have thought that I’d be writing about a DNA testing kit for cats—or that, as I sat down to write about said testing kit, our 12-pound cat would decide to not just lie on my lap but put his head down on the keyboard and spread his entire body out like he’s about to do yoga.
But B-Rad (his name is a long story for another time) is not an ordinary cat. I joke he’s part dog, part human. He comes on command, loves to lie on your lap, knows his name, and acts cute for the ’Gram (though I’m still not ready to give him his own account; let’s not push it). But we don’t know much about B-Rad other than that he’s a ginger tabby we adopted from the Humane Society when he was six. And he will wake me up at 3 a.m. every night for treats.
So when I heard about Basepaws Cat DNA Test and casually told our commerce editor about it, she suggested I do one for B-Rad. And then, a few days later when my Basepaws kit arrived, there I was, one minute interviewing Bachelor contestants and another swabbing B-Rad’s cheek for DNA. (In case you’re wondering, interviewing Bachelor contestants is harder.)
But what exactly is a cat DNA test supposed to do? If it doesn’t tell you your cat’s real age, is it worth it? Especially at $149, was I spending money on some woo-woo wellness trend? Or would I be letting B-Rad down by failing to know as much about his history and genetic makeup as I could? Well, in the name of journalism, I decided to find out.
What is Basepaws?
Basepaws is an at-home consumer DNA test for cats (basically, like 23andMe, but for felines). The female-founded company, led by founder and CEO Anna Skaya (you might have seen her on Shark Tank), helps owners learn about their cat’s breed, health, traits, and habits with a small sample of their DNA collected at home. “Cats are massively underfunded and understudied,” Skaya tells me. “There are around 150 different markers in dog tests, but only 39 in cat tests right now. We’re going to be adding more over the next month and years, which will be your go-to [guide] for learning about whether your cat has a genetic illness. The goal is learning about your cat better, and sharing that information with their vet as well.”
How much does it cost?
There are three options, with the Breed Groups DNA Testing being the least inexpensive at $89. With that, you can learn more about your cat’s genetic similarity to different breed groups, find out about genetic disease markers, and receive health recommendations. B-Rad participated in the middle option, the Breed + Health DNA Test, which costs $149. That includes a comparison with all breeds and breed groups, lifetime breed updates, chromosome map, wildcat index, and predisposition to genetic diseases and health markers. Finally, there’s the Whole Genome Sequencing, which at $599, is honestly something I would never do unless it could guarantee B-Rad would live double his life span (it does not). What it does do is provide 100% of the genome and raw data, plus all genetic variants, and lifetime breed and health updates. Still, I can’t quite justify spending that kind of money.
But, for the holidays, all three options are on sale, with the best deal being the middle option—the Breed + Health DNA Test—which is currently marked down from $149 to $99.
Is it hard to perform your cat’s DNA test?
Even with B-Rad’s gentle demeanor, I was majorly apprehensive about sticking a swab into his mouth to gather his DNA. In fact, I put off doing so for a good week just because I was scared. Once I did, I realized just how simple it was.