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Do Any Animals Show a Preference for Right or Left “Handedness”?

Just as people are either right or left-handed, cats often have a dominant paw preference, which they may demonstrate when they’re reminding you that it’s time to eat or boxing that new feathered cat toy. Researchers at Queen's University Belfast's School of Psychology wanted to know more about this feline behavior, and collected data from 44 cats (24 males and 20 females) of varying breeds, gathered over a period of three months by the animals' owners. They found that the male cats strongly favored their front left paw, while the female cats favored their front right paw.

What it says about your cat:

  • Researchers were interested in which paw the cats led with when walking down stairs or accessing litter boxes. Each cat was also studied while fishing out treats from a food maze.
  • About 73 percent of the cats showed a lateral bias when reaching for food; 70 percent displayed a preference when going down stairs; and 66 percent used one paw more prominently when accessing a litter box.
  • Left-limbed animals, which rely more heavily on the right hemisphere of the brain, tend to display stronger fear responses and aggression than right-limbed animals, which are left brain dominant.
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