Have you ever noticed your cat uses one paw more than the other when it comes to doing action-oriented things? A new study from Belfast, Ireland where cat owners charted which paw their cat uses to step into their litter tray, recline or take a first step down a set of stairs makes the case that kitties have paw preferences akin to being left- or right-handed, errr, pawed.
The overwhelming majority of people are right-handed but the study, published in Animal Behaviour, found that paw preferences tend to split more down gender lines. The female cats observed seemed to prefer their left paw for those functions, and male cats preferred their right paw.
"Beyond mere curiosity, there may be value to knowing the motor preference of one's pet," the study's co-author Deborah Wells told NPR. "There is some suggestion that limb preference might be a useful indicator of vulnerability to stress. Ambilateral animals [with no preference for one side or the other], and those that are more inclined to left-limb dominance, for example, seem more flighty and susceptible to poor welfare than those who lean more heavily towards right limb use.
"We have just discovered that left-limbed dogs, for example, are more 'pessimistic' in their outlook than right-limbed dogs. From a pet owner's perspective, it might be useful to know if an animal is left- or right-limb dominant, as it may help them gauge how vulnerable that individual is to stressful situations, e.g. captive housing, trips to the vet, fireworks, etc."
You're probably already staring at your cat right now, aren't you?
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