November 17, 2022
Cats have unfettered access to our homes, making them the newest unlikely heroes for solving crimes. Their secret crime-fighting superpower? Their fur.
Newly published Australian research suggests that trace DNA evidence in their fur can give police and forensic scientists a new method for validating who was at a crime scene and potentially unmasking unknown perpetrators.
Let’s quickly recap what trace DNA is and isn’t
Humans are messy. We are constantly shedding our DNA everywhere, dropping skin cells or leaving behind strands of hair throughout our environment. Yet how much trace DNA is left behind on our pets and transferred at crime scenes was a perplexing mystery—until now.
Cats at crime scenes
Researchers looked at 20 cats from 15 homes and took DNA samples from the cats and every person who lived in each household. Detectable levels of human DNA were found in 80% of the samples, and researchers generated interpretable profiles that could be linked to a ‘person of interest’; 70% of the time. This research could help untangle confusing cases and purr-vide new options for using trace DNA.
Want to learn more?
Take your forensic knowledge to the next level by listening to host Dr. Kaylee Byers solve two of North America’s oldest cold cases using forensic genomic science on episode six of the Nice Genes! podcast.
Source: Is there human DNA on cats? This research comes from the Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series.