Posted on | May 20, 2010 | Comments Off
In an age of rising crime rates we are all finding new ways to protect our houses but beyond cctv cameras, safe windows, alarms and the traditional guard dog, there may not be that much more we can do. However, scientists have now been studying cat DNA as a means of busting thieves and other intruders.
As a household pet, cats are far more popular than dogs and moreover, cats are often actual live-in the house pets than spend their days sleeping in comfy spots, moving around and importantly shedding thousands of little hairs wherever they go. Like the DNA in humans, the DNA in a cat’s fur is unique to that cat and thus, each can has a unique genetic profile.
Using cat fur as forensic evidence is yet one more boundary the DNA testing has overcome. Originally, everyone assumed DNA testing concerned only humans but things have changed. Today animal DNA testing is a big market. Cat lovers now have cat DNA testing available so as to know any predisposition to disease their cat may have; they may also do a cat DNA test to determine the paternity of a litter of kittens-effectively this is a paternity DNA test for cats.
Your cat’s DNA- How will it help in police criminal investigations?
The average cat has by far more body hair than the average human; cat hair is moreover thicker and somewhat stickier. If you visit anyone cat owners house you will invariably collect samples of their feline’s friends by sitting on a sofa, a chair, or simply brushing against a surface. Once you have brushed off the cat fur then you are holding on your clothes a unique DNA profile that can be traced back to the feline resident of the house you visited. Some US states are already working on compiling a cat DNA database.
Hair DNA in humans and hair DNA in cats
If you have ever inquired about a hair DNA test or know some of the basics of DNA you may know that DNA is found throughout nucleated cells in the body. Since hairs are simply made up of protein then we know that there is no nuclear DNA in hair. The same applies for cats- there is no nuclear DNA in cat hair. However, cat hair and human hair contain what is known as MtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) and this, like nuclear DNA, is unique to each of us.
Cat DNA convicts murderer
A body was found in a grave on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Police investigators identified the body as belonging to Shirley Duguay. She had five children and had separated from her husband Douglas Beamish. He also became the prime suspect but there was no evidence for it. A stained leather jacket found near the crime scene could not be confirmed as belonging to the murdered. Forensic studying of the jacket showed 27 white hairs which when tested for DNA scientists found belonged to a cat. They now needed to establish which cat the DNA belonged to; police investigators remembered seeing a white cat at Beamish’s residence and thus, if they could link the DNA on the fur on the coat to the cat at Beamish’s residence they had their killer. Genetic testing did in fact show a match; the cat DNA on the fur was the same as the one of the cat in his residence.
It is unlikely that anyone a decade or so ago would have imagined cat DNA to be of use in forensics; the field of DNA testing will keep challenging on overcoming new boundaries.