Geneticist Adil Pacheco took blood samples on Friday from three puppies in a poor neighborhood in Passo Fundo in southern Brazil to settle a dispute over a claim they were born from a cat.
“It’s rather simple really. If the puppies prove to have 78 chromosomes, they are dogs. If they have 38, they are cats,” said Pacheco, director of the Institute of Biological Sciences of the University of Passo Fundo.
“But I seriously doubt they are feline. Every characteristic about them is canine.”
Cassia Aparecida de Souza, 18, said her cat Mimi had given birth to the three puppies as well as three kittens, which did not survive. And she, her husband Rogerio Jorge da Silva, 26, and several others in the town believe a neighborhood mutt named Dog is the father of Mimi’s pups.
When news of the spectacular claim spread in the Brazilian media, some local newspapers accused the poor couple, who are expecting their first child in a few months, of fraud and said they were simply trying to make money off a hoax.
“I feel indignant at such accusations,” da Silva said.
Pacheco said he was asked by a local newspaper to conduct the chromosome test, which should yield results on Tuesday.
“It’s not uncommon for mammals to nurse young from another species. The cat gave birth in a field and she likely inherited the puppies from a nearby female dog who had recently given birth,” he said.