Basepaws is a DNA test kit for cats and other household pets. It was founded by Anna Skaya, who pitched the product on Shark Tank. Skaya is hoping that investors will help her expand the product’s visibility and global reach.
Basepaws helps owners determine their cat’s origin, heritage, and genetic makeup. Read on to learn more about Skaya and her background, as well as her hopes for expanding the DNA test kit moving forward.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Basepaws Is a DNA Test Kit That Determines a Cat’s Genetic Heritage
According to the official website, Basepaws is a test kit that helps cat owners “learn about their cat’s traits, breed characteristics and ultimately their health and habits – all with just a bit of DNA, collected at home.” The kit costs $95 and usually ships within 3-5 business days.
Basepaws compares the DNA they receive to other cats, to better determine whether specific genes are linked to disease or physical traits. After you receive your cat’s results, you will also receive lifetime benefits like updates, newsletters and articles about your cat’s DNA. Basepaws is reportedly different from its competitors because it stores the DNA that scientists know nothing about, and tells you more as the technology improves.
Customers can usually expect results within 8-10 weeks from the date their sample arrives at the Basepaws lab. That said, the website states that processing time may vary and it could take up to 4 months depending on the workload of the staff.
2. Skaya Founded the Company After Taking Her Own DNA Test
Anna Skaya came up with the idea for Basepaws in 2016. “The idea was actually born because of the recent boom in personalized medicine and DNA testing,” she told TheCatSite. “Everyone seemed to be doing DNA tests, but the companion animal space was lagging behind. I did my DNA test all the way back in 2011 and I was blown away by the information available to me.”
“When we started with the idea for Basepaws, we couldn’t believe there wasn’t a cat product in the market yet,” she continued. “I remember thinking that there must be a lot more applications for these powerful tools beyond humans.” Skaya also talked about the sample process, and how Basepaws had to best determine how to extract DNA from cats.
“Initially, we actually collected saliva samples. The kits contained swabs which the customers were instructed to use for sampling a little bit of saliva from the inside of the cat’s cheeks,” she revealed. “Unfortunately, these samples didn’t turn out to be the best because they were highly contaminated with bacteria and difficult to separate feline DNA from the bacteria DNA. This is why we decided to opt for a unique method of extracting the DNA from the hair follicles instead.”
3. Skaya’s Parents Were Scientists Who Inspired Her Love for Animals
Skaya’s passion for animals was encouraged by her parents. “My connection with cats, and really all pets goes back to when I was a kid,” she explained. “My father is an entomologist and my mother is a biologist. Naturally, I grew up with animals, and cats have always been my favorite. They’re independent, sassy and smart.”
For the Basepaws founder, cats have always been a big part of her life. “Growing up in Europe, I’ve had cats living in and out of my home, sleeping in my bed, sharing my toys and eating my food since I can remember,” she said. “We run the sequenced DNA through the database and calculate how closely related the cats are to select cat breeds and wildcats. It is interesting, but also super important to learn the ancestry of the cats, as most cats are adopted and we don’t know very much about them.”
“On an individual basis, your cat will have slightly more or less than 95.6% of their DNA in common with a specific wildcat,” Skaya added. “This individual metric is based on random inheritance from your cat’s ancestors. The same type of random inheritance is also true for humans and is the reason why one sibling might look much more like a great-grandparent than the other sibling.”
4. Skaya Believes That Basepaws Will Improve Genetic Testing for Animals
In a 2019 interview with American Veterinarian, Skaya talked about the future of Basepaws, and how its better option than its competitors. “A simple DNA test can make it easier to identify which traits are linked to health conditions like heart disease and obesity,” she said. “As this information becomes available, Basepaws’ updated reports can save pet owners the time and cost of trial and error, using veterinary research to shed light on the best foods for certain breeds.”
“DNA research has revealed a vast amount of useful, often life-saving information for humans,” she continued. “We want to facilitate those same kinds of breakthroughs for cats.” In a separate interview, Skaya talked of the ways in which Basepaws can save pet owners money and grief regarding their cat’s health.
“How wonderful would it be to connect two cat owners from two different sides of the world who have genetically very similar cats?,” she asked. “Hearing what other people are doing can be very beneficial for expanding the valuable knowledge of caring for our cats. We hope to create an ambient in which the cat owners will be able to interact and learn in a new and exciting way.”
5. Skaya Wants a Shark Tank Investor to Help Expand Basepaws’ Reach
Skaya will appear on Shark Tank in an effort to land an investor. Basepaws is a fledgling business, but she wants to expand its reach, and get the DNA test kits in stores throughout the country. Despite her efforts, however, Skaya assured Facebook users that the exposure will more than worth it. “This isn’t just about funding,” she wrote. “This is about a chance for us to share the Basepaws mission with cat lovers everywhere!”
Basepaws is also encouraging fans to share photos of the Shark Tank pitch on social media. For every shared photo, the brand will make a donation to the Animal Humane Society and give a $100 gift card to a random winner.