For years, investigators have used the incredible sense of smell of dogs to demonstrate the presence of a suspect at a crime scene. But what about their greatest enemies, cats? Researchers at Australia’s Flinders University have found that they, too, can be very useful in criminal cases.
Heidi Monkman, Roland AH van Oorschot and Mariya Goray have noticed that these adorable furballs can carry traces of genetic material in their fur from someone who has found themselves in their environment.
Traces of human DNA in the fur
To reach this conclusion, the scientists collected human DNA samples from 20 domestic cats from 15 households. They went to the various participants in the study to take the samples on site. The goal: to see if their skin cells had ended up on their pet by transfer.
The researchers also asked the occupants (humans) of each home to fill out a questionnaire on the behavior and habits of their cat, in order to know the frequency of the caresses it receives or who gives them the most.
A valuable aid for crime scenes
Traces of DNA were detected in 80% of the samples taken from the felines. Heidi Monkman and her colleagues found no significant difference between the amount of DNA present on the coats of cats participating in the study and the time elapsed since their last contact with a human. Not even the length of their hair. In addition, 70% of the DNA profiles generated by the researchers from the samples taken from the felines were sufficiently reliable to be associated with individuals.
These results are all the more promising as this is the first study to examine how domestic animals can contribute to DNA transfer. “The collection of human DNA should become very important in crime scene investigations, but there is a lack of data on the relationship that links companion animals such as cats and dogs with DNA transfer. human”Heidi Monkman said in a statement posted on Phys.org.
The forensic scientist says, however, that these four-legged companions can be very useful in determining the whereabouts of the inhabitants of a household, or even those of any recent visitors.