The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a draft guidance on August 28, 2014 to help standardize for global exchange the format of electronic veterinary medical product records.
Cat Fur Can Identify Criminals
Written by Jennifer Viegas
Tuesday, 04 January 2011 04:41
One of the best home security systems requires no monthly contracts or electrical wiring and may go unnoticed by crooks. Thanks to innovative new research, cat fur is helping to identify and convict miscreants, from robbers to murderers. As a result, your purring lap kitty could one day save your belongings -- and maybe even your life.
Inspiration From TV Crime Shows Dr. Leslie Lyons, one of the worldâs leading experts on cat genetics, pioneered the research. She enjoys watching certain television crime programs. âIâm a big fan of âCSI: Crime Scene Investigation,ââ she says, which included two episodes where cat fur was part of the evidence. Lyons, based at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, was already compiling information on cat DNA when a lightbulb moment struck her.
Lyons and her colleagues then created a DNA database that forensic science experts can use to help identify the source of cat fur. âBecause cats incessantly groom, cat fur may have nucleated cells, not only in the hair bulb, but also as epithelial cells on the hair shaft deposited during the grooming process, thereby generally providing material for DNA profiling,â Lyons and her team report in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. So each strand of fur shed by your cat might contain DNA-rich cells at the root end or even DNA-containing skin cells stuck to the hair shaft itself.
How Cat Fur Catches Criminals Lyons, who shares her household with four cats, suggests that a perpetrator might not be able to control one detail, if breaking into your house. âI canât come out of my house without cat fur on me,â she says, adding that the same can happen to unwanted visitors. Anyone who enters a house where a cat resides leaves with one or more cat hairs stuck to his (OK?) body, clothing, bags and shoes.
If the criminal is later detained for questioning, or is caught pulling a similar stunt, the cat fur might then go to a lab for analysis. Thanks to the new DNA database, researchers can usually tell what general region and population the cat fur originated from. While the data isnât firm enough to say something like, âThis fur came from Miss Fluffy, a calico at X Street in Kansas,â it can help to eliminate individual criminals from the list of possibilities, strengthen existing evidence and identify probable suspects.
Cats Have Already Put Criminals Behind Bars One of the most publicized cases, Beamish v. Her Majestyâs Court, P.E.I., involved a Canadian murder. âInvestigators linked the perpetrator to the crime scene by STR (a certain type of DNA) identification of a single cat hair found in the pocket of a discarded jacket,â report Lyons and her team.
Consider Having Your Own Catâs DNA Tested If you keep your catâs genetic information on file, that can help facilitate any forensics process, should a crime ever take place in your home. DNA tests also can:
confirm your catâs lineage
provide additional information about your catâs family history
offer info about your catâs coat type and color
detect certain inherited diseases
Lyons suggests breeders of cats might consider such testing. Persians, for example, can be born with genetic defects that may cause blindness or kidney disease. The DNA information might even one day help to cure similar problems in humans, since both humans and cats are mammals and sometimes suffer from related disorders.
Above all, cats are also âgood to have on your lap and just lower your blood pressure,â says Lyons. âTheyâre good all the way around.â
About the Author: Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor for The Daily Cat and has authored over 20 books on animal, science and nature topics.
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