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Scientists may remove cats' hunting gene

Monday June 13th 2016

Genetic engineering could put an end to domestic cats' predatory instincts, according to an expert.

John Bradshaw says scientists could remove felines' hunting genes, which might make their habit of dragging birds, mice and other hunting spoils into the house a thing of the past.

Dr Bradshaw, a cat behavioural specialist at Bristol University, says he believes that such instincts can be narrowed down to between 15 and 20 separate genes.

He says it would be a shame if such primitive feline behaviour resulted in a reduction in cat ownership. Making cats more docile would stop them getting in trouble with their owners after hunting small creatures, he added.

He says that moggies seldom eat their victims since they prefer cat food. Such cat gene selectivity is within our grasp since cats' whole genome has already been sequenced, he adds.

Speaking at Cheltenham Science Festival, Dr Bradshaw said there is no need for modern domestic cats to have wild predatory instincts because all their nutrition requirements are catered for.

Copyright Press Association 2016