Cat DNA readings sound like a not-serious endeavor, the sort of thing a wealthy pet owner might spend money on if they have a lot of dough and a pampered kitty.
But cat DNA readings are serious business… and even helped crack a homicide case in England.
It turns out, cat DNA readings can link suspected criminals to the scenes of crimes in which they are suspected to have been involved.
In the British case, investigators were able to link a man suspected of manslaughter to the crime scene via DNA from his cat, Tinker.
Cat hairs found at the scene were matched using cat DNA readings to Tinker’s owner — and Jon Wetton, University of Leicester geneticist, says that case represented a first for cat DNA readings in Britain:
“This is the first time cat DNA has been used in a criminal trial in the UK… We now hope to publish the database so it can be used in future crime investigations.”
NBC reports that the cat DNA match was rare enough to make a solid connection:
“In July 2012, the dismembered torso of Hampshire resident David Guy was found on a Southsea beach, wrapped in a curtain on which eight cat hairs were found. Constables sent the hairs to California for analysis of the mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down from a mama cat to her kittens. Hairs from suspect David Hilder’s cat were analyzed as well — and the tests came up with a match.”
Wetton adds that the cat DNA readings pose a frightening problem — for criminals:
“This could be a real boon for forensic science, as the 10 million cats in the UK are unwittingly tagging the clothes and furnishings in more than a quarter of households.”
Cat DNA readings have previously closed cases, but not in the UK — a Canadian conviction was once secured using the method.