Mon
Aug 26 2013 7:45am

No Escaping it Now: The Cats are Rats!

When the dismembered torso of a murdered man floated to shore at a British beach last year, it carried with it some unusual evidence: eight domestic cat hairs. They turned out to be the clue that identified the murderer and put him behind bars.

Police in Hampshire, England, sent a sample of the cat hairs to the Veterinary Genetics Lab at the University of California, Davis, for DNA analysis. Testing showed that they belonged to a cat with a distinctive DNA profile—a profile similar to Tinker, the beloved pet of the man police suspected of the murder.

Back in the U.K. and armed with info from UC Davis, police contacted Dr. Jon Wetton, a geneticist at the University of Leicester, who had already established a canine DNA database for the U.K. Forensic Science Service. Could he do the same for felines? Yes, he could.

And after further investigation by Dr. Wetton’s team, Tinker unwittingly turned stool pigeon and implicated his owner in the crime.

Dr. Wetton plans to broaden the U.K. feline database, explaining to Sasha Ingber of National Geographic that it could help solve cold cases and serve to place suspects at a crime scene:

In the U.K., there are about 10 million cats and 10 million dogs. If you’re a pet owner, you’ll appreciate that your clothes, furniture, and certain parts of the house are pretty much saturated with pet hairs. If someone broke into your house and brushed against curtains as they came in through the window, they might pick up cat and dog hairs. They would end up being tagged by the pet in your house.

We've been following these developments for some time. See our 2011 story on the Canadian snitch, Snowball, and the Meowplex database. Soon, there'll be nowhere in the world safe from feline finks.

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2 comments
Brian Greene
1. BrianGreene
I love this! Dogs are finks, too. Once, my sister and a friend played hooky from high school and were hanging at our house. My dad came home from work unexpectedly, the girls heard him pull up in the driveway and scampered to hide in our back yard . . . our dog Midnight got my dad's attention and led him to the truants. Busted by a mutt!
Clare Toohey
2. clare2e
LOL Brian! Loyal companions, my Aunt Fanny.
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