Last Updated on May 4, 2022 by Pets Feed
Researchers have found that about 70% of cats are more likely to perform certain actions with their “front”, left or right paw. Most often, preferences depended on the sex of the animal: most males turned out to be “left-handed”.
Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have concluded that most domestic cats have a “master” paw, either left or right, from which they initiate certain types of actions. To do this, the researchers conducted a series of observations and experiments involving 44 domestic cats. Scientists believe that left-handed cats may be less resistant to stress and more prone to aggression.
The work involved 44 cats aged from one year to 17 years old, including 20 females. Cat owners were instructed to observe their pets for three months. People have recorded three types of spontaneous animal behavior: they have recorded which side the cat usually lies on, which paw it begins to descend stairs with, and which prefers to climb low surfaces (for example, in a tray with a filling hygienic). Hosts have recorded at least 50 examples of each type of behavior.
The cats were also tested by taking food from a three-tiered container with holes, where only one paw passed. The animals performed the task without leaving their homes so that the unfamiliar environment would not affect the study results. The work required 50 behavioral examples, while testing took several days. Every day the cat made about 15 attempts, so the animals did not get bored and tired – this could also skew the results.
The “lead” paw was found in most cats. 73% of the animals preferred to use a particular paw for feeding. 70% descended from the “main” leg, 66% ascended to a small height. At the same time, only 25% of cats preferred to lie on a certain side. The researchers found that women were more likely to be “right-handed” while men were “left-handed.” The same difference was previously observed in dogs and horses. The authors of the dog study concluded that sex hormones could influence preferences – data could only be collected for neutered animals. However, in the case of cats, no such link was found: all the animals participating in the study were sterilized, but the “front” paw was found in the majority.
Researchers don’t yet know exactly what makes cats right-handed or left-handed. However, scientists believe that such preferences may be associated with a certain reaction of the animal to stress. Deborah Wells, one of the study’s authors, comments: “Left-handed animals, which use the right hemisphere more often when processing information, generally show a more visible reaction to sources of fear and more frequent outbursts of aggression. They have a harder time coping with stressful situations than “right-handed” animals, which rely more on the left hemisphere. If this is indeed the case, this will be demonstrated by further studies of animal behavior.
The study is published in the journal Animal Behavior.