MadSci Network: Other

Re: Are Cats left pawed or right pawed ?

Area: Other
Posted By: Lori Holt, Graduate (Ph.D.) Student, Psychology, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
Date: Thu Sep 11 08:42:34 1997
Area of science: Other
ID: 873758706.Ot


This is a good research question. Scientists have found that some animals really do have a preference for one "hand" over the other. Like humans, monkeys, apes, mice, and gerbils all have preferences for one "hand". Even some fish seem to prefer a particular fin for certain behaviors.

Here's how you might test your hypothesis:

Cats often reach for an object that is placed just a bit in front of them. You can use this natural behavior to study whether cats tend to reach more often with their left or right paws.

Try placing a stuffed mouse or catnip toy just out of reach of the cat. To make the cat "reach" at the toy, try slowly pulling the toy away from the cat just a bit. Cats love this! Next, record whether the cat reached with his left or right paw. Repeat this as many times as the cat will tolerate your teasing! You should try to get the cat to reach about 20-30 times so that you can accurately determine whether he has a preference.

Your teacher is right. You should try to test as many cats as you can. That way, you'll be able to begin to see whether cats as a group have a general tendency toward prefering right or left paws.

If you have any more questions, feel free to email me ( I'll try to respond as quickly as possible.

Good Luck,
Lori Holt

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