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Can Cat DNA Be Used to Solve Crimes?

By Orgesta Tolaj


24 November 2023

Cat DNA from cat hair can soon be used to solve crimes

© Kote Puerto / Unsplash

Yes, that cute little fella you see in that photo up there could be the one to solve crimes soon! But, could they really be the answer to it all? While cats are cute and soft and important on their own, the gist of it all is their cat hair. More importantly, cat DNA will soon be one of the most important aspects of solving crimes. At least that’s what science is claiming. Here is everything you need to know about how cat hair can soon help solve crimes.

Cat DNA Can Be Used to Solve Crimes Soon

A novel DNA testing technique has emerged that could aid in catching criminals who happen to be cat owners. Considering that roughly 25% of households in the UK have feline friends, this method exploits the statically charged nature of cat hairs. It readily clings to their owners’ clothing.

© Chunli Ju / Unsplash

The implication is that a perpetrator who owns a cat might be identified and linked to a crime scene based on the presence of cat hairs that have been transferred to their attire. This innovative approach could potentially enhance investigations by expanding the range of trace evidence available for analysis.

Cat Hair Is Still Not As Effective as Human DNA for Crime Solving

While cat hairs can be useful in forensic analysis, they are not as effective as the criminal’s own DNA. Criminal DNA typically contains distinctive repeated sequences of genetic code known as ‘short tandem repeats’ (STRs). These are found in nuclear DNA. Unfortunately, cat hair lacks sufficient nuclear DNA for detecting these STRs. This is because the root of the cat’s hair, where nuclear DNA is found, typically dries up. Cat hair does, however, contain a different type of DNA called mitochondrial DNA, inherited maternally.

Yet, this mitochondrial DNA is often fragmented within the hair, showing an incomplete DNA profile. Additionally, due to the limited number of ancestors shared by pet cats, a single sample could potentially be associated with thousands of different cats.

What Scientists Are Saying

In a significant scientific advancement, researchers have achieved a breakthrough that holds the promise of revolutionizing cold cases. It is especially important for unsolved murders. The crimes can be solved through the precise matching of cat hairs to specific individual cats. The method involves taking fragments of mitochondrial DNA and amplifying them on a massive scale using a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, similar to the ones utilized for Covid. While each fragment initially represents an incomplete photocopy of the cat’s mitochondrial DNA, the process of multiplying these fragments into billions proves instrumental.

© Tobias / Unsplash

This multiplication allows technology, which might come across challenges with only a few copies, to discern and identify the common genetic code shared by the fragments. Consequently, this groundbreaking technique enables the reconstruction of the complete mitochondrial DNA of the cat, marking a significant leap in forensic capabilities that was previously unattainable.

Who knew cats would have an even greater purpose than just being cute and fluffy?

You might also want to read: The UK Detects Its First Case of a Deadly Cat Virus

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!