We are thrilled to share our new report with you, but we frequently get questions about the Basepaws Reports and updates. Take a look at some of the Basepaws Report FAQ-s bellow and read the answers provided by our Chief Veterinary Officer, Chris Menges, DVM, MPH.

Basepaws Report FAQ-s

Basepaws:

The new report is different from the old one. Why?

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

This new report is a major update. Since our launch, we have grown our highly sequenced pedigreed cat database into one of the largest in the world. In this process, we have learned so much about feline genetic profiles. These new understandings have allowed us to re-analyze your cat’s original DNA sample and update your report findings. In the future, you will continue to see changes and updates to your report, as we continue to make new discoveries that we can proudly share with you!

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Basepaws:

Why did you need to create the new term ‘polycat‘ for these mixed breed cats? We already have the name DSH/DMH/DLH to describe these populations.

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

While there are terms already in existence that refer to mixed breed cats of unknown origins, we felt that these terms largely represented initial impressions based on physical characteristics, and were no longer pursued. We believe that this is an unfair representation of the these cats’ unknown genetic portions which we’ve sequenced. These unknown sequences, or polycat sequences, represent opportunities to learn more about the natural selection and evolution of cats and cat breeds in the past, as well as the genetic impacts on future health. Help us raise awareness about these opportunities and to #GetToKnowYourCatBetter!

Basepaws:

In my new report, Siamese is the first breed. Does that mean my cat is Siamese? What does it mean?

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

In your report, the first breed listed for your cat is the breed most genomically similar to your cat’s DNA. Historically, cats have been left to reproduce naturally and freely, and defined breeds have only been recently developed, meaning that cat breeds don’t have truly distinct genetic markers like those found in dogs or humans. At Basepaws, we compare your cat’s DNA to our highly sequenced pedigreed cat genetic database to find the most similar genetic breed. The first breed, in this case Siamese,
may contain hints about common personality dispositions, health risks, and history. As we continue to grow our database, we will continue to update your report and fine-tune the breed similarities.

colorpointed siamese blue eyes cat

Basepaws:

So, what is the Breed of my cat?

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

While Basepaws is NOT a breed test, we CAN identify which breeds are the main breeds your cat is most similar to. Pay close attention to the FIRST breed in your Breed Report – that is the breed your cat is closest to genomically. Even polycat cats are closer to some breeds more than others. Learning these insights will help you understand your cat better.

Basepaws:

On my breed group percentage breakdown, the Eastern breed group percentage is higher than the Western breed group. Why is my cat compared to specific Western Breeds instead of Eastern then?

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

Good catch! Breed group is actually assigned based on the specific breeds that the cat is most similar to and not based on the overall composition percentages. I understand that this can be confusing, which is why we are still looking for more intuitive ways to display the information.

The main reason why the percentage composition is not used for the determination of breed groups is the difference between the genetic distance and the physical distance on the genome. Simply put, the physical length of regions on the genome does not directly translate to genetic contribution of breeds. Some regions can contribute more than others, regardless of the physical length. In humans it is possible to calculate the genetic contribution of particular genomic regions through a “haplotype map”. Unfortunately, there isn’t an extensive haplotype map available for cats at the moment. We are actively working on this problem though.

Basepaws:

What does the Wildcat index mean? Is my cat part tiger?

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

The Wildcat index percentage is determined using the relative genetic similarity between all of the domestic cat samples we’ve tested vs. the four big wildcats we have (Tiger, Leopard, Cheetah, Cougar). This measures how genomically similar your cat is to these wild cats when looking at all other domestic cat samples, not to the specific wildcat base pairs themselves. We will be adding more big cats and more samples to fine-tune these results.

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Basepaws:

What Breeds do you test for NOW?

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

As of right now, we have many highly sequenced breed genetic profiles in our database. These breeds are separated into 4 breed groups, which are based off their breed history and genetic similarity. These 4 breed groups are Western, Eastern, Persian and Exotic. You can find the complete list of included breeds here.

We are always looking for pedigreed cats to expand our database. If you believe you have a pedigreed cat that may help us, please apply through our Science Page or at cure@basepaws.com and find out if you’re eligible for free high coverage whole genome sequencing!

Basepaws:

What breeds will you test for NEXT?

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

We are constantly looking to grow our database with new breeds, as well as upgrade our existing breed genetic profiles. At this time, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what our next breeds will be, but follow our blog for news about future report updates and health discoveries. If you have a pedigreed breed cat, please visit our Science Page and apply for your breed. If you are accepted for pedigreed breed submission, you may be eligible to receive free high-frequency sequencing for your cat!

beautiful colorpointed siamese cat with blue eyes laying next to an orchid plant

Basepaws:

Can you provide an actual precentage breakdown, as other DNA companies do?

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

No, we will not be giving a percentage breakdown of heritage, much like those found in current human or canine DNA tests. This is mainly due to how cats have naturally reproduced without much human influence throughout the centuries, whereas during that same time humans reproduced regionally for millennia and dogs, as we all know, have been bred for specific jobs and/or character traits (like herding or retrieving).

This millenia allowed for very specific genetic markers in dogs and humans alike to be passed down, creating the basis for the percentage measurement system. This basis does not exist in feline genetics, so we have created a genetic database of pedigreed cats which allows us to check your cat’s DNA against different breed genetic profiles to showcase how closely you cat is related. As we continue to grow our database, we will be adding genetic associations around behavior, physical traits, and more!

Basepaws:

I can’t log into my account, what’s going?

Chris Menges, DVM, MPH:

We have recently updated the infrastructure of our website to be able to provide our customers with better service and to upgrade their account features. Some of our users are currently having issues logging into their accounts because of this. If you are one of those, please try reseting your account password. This should resolve most problems. If you continue having issues, please contact us at meow@basepaws.com.

young gray and white kitten looking at the laptop

Thank you very much for your interest in genetics and the Basepaws report! If you have any questions which may not have been answered in this Basepaws Report FAQ-s piece, please send an email to meow@basepaws.com with the subject line Veterinarian Q&A, and I’ll be back to provide answers some of the most commonly asked questions with a new volume of Basepaws Report FAQ-s!

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