Research determined if cats might be left-pawed or right-pawed. Photography ©Olga Miltsova | Getty Images.
Research determined if cats might be left-pawed or right-pawed. Photography ©Olga Miltsova | Getty Images.

Right or Left? Research Determines if Cats Have a Preferred Paw

Right-handedness is more common in humans, but what paw do cats prefer? Researchers from the Animal Behaviour Centre at Queen's University have some insights.
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Researchers at the Animal Behaviour Centre at Queen’s University in Belfast used owner surveys and an experiment to determine if cats might be left-pawed or right-pawed. For the survey, owners tracked which paw their cats used when stepping into a litter box or taking the first step down stairs.

Researchers also put treats inside a container and recorded which paw each cat used to get the treats. Although the results showed that cats overall aren’t biased toward one paw (the way right-handedness is more common in humans than left-handedness), they did have preferences (73 percent used one paw more to reach for the treats, and 70 percent showed paw preference when taking the first step on stairs).

Thumbnail: Photography ©Olga Miltsova | Getty Images.

Jackie Brown is a freelance writer from Southern California who specializes in the pet industry. Reach her at jackiebrownwriter.wordpress.com.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Catster magazine delivered straight to you

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3 thoughts on “Right or Left? Research Determines if Cats Have a Preferred Paw”

  1. Edie Eisenstein

    I absolutely love this cite ad learn so much. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.????????????????????????????

  2. My last cat, Tripod, was born without a left foreleg, so she was essentially right-pawed. However, in the litter box, I’d see her working her left shoulder–she had the shoulder blade and a bit of the humerus–to try to cover her business. I’d kid her about her using a leg she never had. Then she’d use the right. Sometimes, if she was angry at someone, she’d try to swat the offender with her “invisible leg”. I’d say, “You know you’re in big trouble with Tripod when she starts using her invisible leg!”

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