• Cats were found to be both receptors and vectors for DNA transfer
  • Human DNA was found on 80% of the samples collected from cats in 20 homes
  • A profile that could be linked to a person of interest was generated in 70% of the cases

Pets like cats and dogs may play a crucial role in gathering evidence in criminal investigation, a new study has found. That's right, furry four-legged friends could potentially help investigators solve crimes.

The one-of-a-kind study was conducted by forensic science researchers at Flinders University in Australia and published in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetic Supplement Series.

Researchers found a substantial presence of human DNA in the samples that were collected from 20 cats from multiple homes. Cats were found to be both receptors and vectors, or carriers, for DNA transfer.

Human DNA was found in 80% of the samples and a profile that could be linked to a person of interest was generated in 70% of the cases. The researchers collaborated with the Victoria Police Forensic Services Department for the study.

"Collection of human DNA needs to become very important in crime scene investigations, but there is a lack of data on companion animals such as cats and dogs in their relationship to human DNA transfer," lead author Heidi Monkman, College of Science and Engineering at Flinders, said, reported PhysOrg.

"These companion animals can be highly relevant in assessing the presence and activities of the inhabitants of the household, or any recent visitors to the scene," Monkman added.

An experienced crime scene investigator and co-author of the paper, Dr. Mariya Goray, believes that the data from this study could prove very useful in interpreting forensic DNA results obtained from a crime scene that had the presence of pets.

"This type of data can help us understand the meaning of the DNA results obtained, especially if there is a match to a person of interesting," Goray said. "Are these DNA finding a result of criminal activity or could they have been transferred and deposited at the scene via a pet?"

The study does put the commonly ignored pets, especially cats, in the spotlight. The researchers, however, pointed out in their paper that further studies are needed to comprehend the ways and the level of transfer of human DNA to and from cats and other pets.

To this end, further research on cats and dogs is underway at the Flinders University forensic laboratory.

Another recent study found that cats understand when you are talking to them.

"In contemporary western cultures, most humans talk to their pet companions," the researchers wrote in their paper. "The way dogs respond to dog-directed speech (DDS) has raised scientists' interest. In contrast, much less is known about how cats perceive and respond to cat-directed speech (CDS)."

"Our results highlight the importance of one-to-one relationships for cats, reinforcing recent literature regarding the ability for cats and humans to form strong bonds," researchers further said.

Representation. A cat. Pixabay