Criminals around the U.K. may have to say goodbye to their beloved cats. A new cat DNA database developed by genetics experts means cats can now provide forensic evidence to help put their masters behind bars.
The U.K.’s first cat DNA database has already been used to convict a killer last month, researchers said.
Dr Jon Wetton, of the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics, led the project to compile a database of DNA from 152 cats around the U.K.
The database was used to help show that cat hairs found on the body of Hampshire man David Guy were likely to belong to “Tinker” — a cat owned by main suspect David Hilder.
This evidence was used as part of the prosecution case leading to the successful conviction of Hilder for manslaughter last month, researchers said.
After a U.S. lab helped show there was a mitochondrial DNA match between the cat hairs found on Guy’s torso and “Tinker”, Hampshire Police approached Wetton to show how rare the DNA type was in the UK, they said.
Wetton had created a similar database of UK dogs while working with the Forensic Science Service (FSS) — making him an ideal person to help Hampshire Police in their investigations.
With researcher Barbara Ottolini carrying out the lab work, 152 cats from UK were tested, within an impressively short timescale.
The team were able to get the samples from a company, which handles analysis of blood samples from pets for vets across UK. The samples showed cats’ ages, gender and postcode — with 23 cats from Southsea and another 129 from a range of places throughout the rest of the country.
Only three of the samples obtained matched the hairs from the crime scene, confirming that it was indeed an uncommon type in the UK.
This evidence was presented at Winchester Crown Court, and formed part of the prosecution case successfully convicting David Hilder for manslaughter, researchers said.