Belfast Telegraph

Which paw does your cat prefer?

An academic study of 44 cats found there was a gender difference when it came to the animals using their right paw over their left one.

Female cats are more likely to be right-handed than males, research has indicated.

An academic study of 44 cats found there was a gender difference when it came to the animals using their right paw over their left one.

The study found the majority of the cats showed a paw preference when reaching for food, walking down stairs or stepping over objects, and that their preference of paw was consistent in most of their tasks.

In all cases, male cats showed a significant preference for using their left paw, while females were more inclined to use their right paw. However, when it came to sleeping, the cats did not appear to have a side preference.

Unlike humans, there was no preference among the overall population of cats for right-handedness, it was only gender that influenced it.

Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast carried out the study and their findings have been published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

Dr Deborah Wells said limb preference could be a useful indicator of a cat’s vulnerability to stress.

“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,” she said.

“We have just discovered that left-limbed dogs, for example, are more pessimistic in their outlook than right-limbed dogs.”

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Queen's University, Belfast (PA)

The cats – 24 male and 20 female – were studied in their own homes so the information could be gathered as they went about their everyday tasks.

The cat owners collected spontaneous data on whether the cats used their left or right paws when they stepped down the stairs or over objects and whether they slept on the left or right side of their body.

A forced test was also carried out where the cats had to reach for food inside a three-tier feeding tower.

The reason behind the preference has not yet been established.

The team at Queen’s said further research needs to be conducted, but they believe it may be linked to hormones.

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