What do diabetes, asthma and some causes of blindness have in common? They’re some of the diseases that both humans and felines can catch. Because of this, scientists can now use cat genomes to study how these diseases work and spread in humans.

In 2004, Professor Leslie Lyons, of the University of Missouri, discovered that the genetic mutations that cause the disease occur in the same gene in humans and cats.

“That has given us a new approach to studying the disease,” Lyons said. “We are now studying other parts of the cat genome to see if these pieces of DNA have an influence on the speed and severity of the spread of PKD in an animal.”

So if future medical treatments save your life, you may soon have your cat to thank for your extra life. Perhaps cats can now pass on their nine lives to their owners, but knowing cats, they’ll just keep it all for themselves anyway.

To read how cat genomes can help scientists understand human diseases, click here.

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