Is your cat left-handed or right-handed? Try to find out

A study published in the journal “Animal Behavior” at the beginning of the year deals with a curious study: trying to test whether cats have a preference for the use of one of their paws.

And if it is proven, we can talk about left-handed or right-handed cats .

And your cat, is it a right-handed or a left-handed cat ?

As surprising as it may seem, you should know that scientists know very little about the behavior of cats. They are not easy to study because it is very difficult to find a motivation capable of making a cat work on a protocol, and its observation is not easy due to its independent nature.

In other studies, it had already been shown that the cat had preferences for using a certain paw in forced exercises (such as pressing a lever for a reward in an experimental device), but cats had never been observed in spontaneous and natural behaviors.

Cats prefer the use of one paw over the other

The study on 44 neutered cats (20 females and 24 males) of mixed breeds, aged between 1 and 17 years, was carried out in their own homes to minimize stress for the animals.

None of the cats had undergone behavioral training, nor did they have any disabilities or behavior problems that prevented them from completing the study.

Pet owners were asked to report three spontaneous cat behaviors that occurred in their daily routines:

  • Which leg they used to take their first step when entering their litter box.
  • With which leg they took the first step down the stairs.
  • On which side they leaned when sleeping or resting.

An experimental food retrieval test was also conducted to see which paw the cats used when trying to get food from a plastic feeder through a narrow hole.

The results show that each cat has a dominant paw , which it will use more often in the same situations.

On the other hand, there is no preference in use between the right and the left, unlike in humans, where 90% of people are right-handed. Cats that use a dominant paw, one half, more or less, are right-handed, and the other half left-handed.

But cats are constant: those who have a preference for one paw maintain it in performing the different behaviors tested.  Those who eat with the right leg also tend to use that same leg first to enter the sandbox or take a step.

Males prefer to use their left leg, and females the right

Furthermore, the study found a significant difference between males and females: males with a dominant leg are mostly left-handed, and females right-handed.

It is too early to dare to interpret this result. The results suggest that there are differences between the structure and function of the brain in males and females, but there is no way to understand the mechanisms or even the exact cause. We still need a lot of observation and more data to focus on a possible cause.

The glass and candy test

However, if you want to know if your cat is right-handed or left-handed, there is a way to find out. Best of all, you just need a glass and a few goodies.

Thanks to the popular Mugumogu YouTube channel, which is dedicated to two famous Japanese cats, Maru and Hanna, we have the answer.

To find out if your cat uses his left or right paw more often, you should place a glass with a treat and make sure the treat is far enough away that your cat cannot catch it in his mouth. Then see which paw your cat uses first to try to get the treat out. Is it the left or the right?

If you need more help on how to know which paw is the dominant of your cat, watch this video: Video author: Dominant hand and Maru & Hana.


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