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  • Behavior Problems? We have answers.Behavior Problems? We have answers.

    Behavior Problems? We have answers.

    Learn about behavior from our team of experts. Whether you have cats, dogs, reptiles, horses or birds, we can help you learn to live with them. Read More
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    Learn about equine science, whether you're an aspiring rider or a long-time owner, we have the latest in products, breeds, and more. Read More
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    Take a look at what it means to have ferrets, rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, and more. Read More
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  • How Tabby Cats Got Their Forehead "M"

    Tabby cats have a rather unique history. If you have seen a tabby cat, you've probably noticed the distinguished looking “M” pattern on their forehead. Due to this marking, most have enjoyed special privilege over the years as being favored by  religious leaders.

    While there are dozens of legends about how Tabby Cats received this special marking, today we're exploring those based on Christian and Muslim faiths.

    There are many beliefs about how this cat received their marking that span multiple religions and mythos, but those of the Muslim faith seem to be the most committed to their feline friends.

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    To begin, a tabby is not a breed of cat, but a general way of referring to a coat pattern. In fact,  usually “tabby” means stripes, swirls or spots on a cat that is orange, brown, white or grey colored cat.  In fact, the word tabby is often used as a generic term for "cat" (just like "hound" is often used as a general term for dogs). Tabby cats are found in a variety of different breeds.

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  • Top 5 Alternatives to Catnip

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  • Keeping Aquariums Alive During Summer Blackouts

    Summer is on the way, and that means possible brown outs (power shortages) and even blackouts (power outages) for most of the country. Things get more complex than being without air conditioning when we have fish and aquariums.

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    Today we're taking a look at each of these things in detail and offering a few suggestions on how you can prepare for a brownout or blackout in your area of the country.  

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5 Questions to Ask Before Getting Chickens

There is a lot of interest in chicken keeping these days. With the cost of food skyrocketing, chickens can be Read More

Keeping Pets Safe from Coyotes

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Getting Old Sucks - Cognitive Dysfuntion in Dogs (CCD)

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Teaching Children to Approach Horses

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Disaster preparedness with pets

September is National Animal Preparedness Month. Some natural disasters require that you evacuate your entire family, pets included. Wildfires, floods, Read More

5 Ways to Help Birds in Winter on #NationalBirdDay

January 5 is officially National Bird Day and we're looking at ways that we can help our feathered friends during Read More
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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 world’s leading experts on cat genetics, pioneered the research. She enjoys watching certain television crime programs. “I’m a big fan of ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,’” 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. “Because 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,” 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. “I can’t come out of my house without cat fur on me,” 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 isn’t firm enough to say something like, “This fur came from Miss Fluffy, a calico at X Street in Kansas,” 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 Majesty’s Court, P.E.I., involved a Canadian murder. “Investigators 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,” report Lyons and her team. Consider Having Your Own Cat’s DNA Tested
If you keep your cat’s 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 cat’s lineage
  • provide additional information about your cat’s family history
  • offer info about your cat’s 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 “good to have on your lap and just lower your blood pressure,” says Lyons. “They’re good all the way around.”

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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