JAN 22, 2018 7:16 PM PST

New Study Aims to Understand Limb Preference in Cats

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Just like people, animals of all types can exhibit left or right-handedness. On the other hand, there isn’t much research concerning what makes them so.

Curious researchers from Queen’s University, Belfast wanted to change that, so they conducted a study with 44 neutered cats – 24 males and 20 females. They published their results in the journal Animal Behaviour this week.

Some cats are left-haned, while some are right-handed. But why?

Image Credit: Pixabay

The researchers paid particularly close attention to which paw the cats favored when climbing down stairs or jumping from one platform to another. They also monitored which side of the body each cat preferred to sleep on and which paw they’d use to reach for food.

These observations allowed the researchers to discern limb preference in each cat and determine whether they were left or right-handed. Astonishingly, they discovered something they didn’t expect.

Related: The majority of tarantulas might be right-handed

The majority of the males preferred using their left paw for various tasks, while most of the females preferred using their right. As it would seem, there’s significant evidence to suggest that gender plays a role in feline limb preference.

While there’s no conclusive explanation for why this happens, the researchers do say that hormonal or neural architecture differences between the two genders may have something to do with it.

But what does understanding a cat’s limb preference matter to pet owners? Study co-author Dr. Deborah Wells explains that limb preference might indicate whether an animal is more vulnerable to stress or poor welfare:

“Ambilateral animals with no preference for one side or the other, and those that are more inclined to left-limb dominance, for example, seem more flighty and susceptible to poor welfare than those who lean more heavily towards right limb use,” she said.

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

Related: Most blue whales are right-handed, sometimes...

From what we can gather, researchers still have a lot to learn about what gives an animal its limb preference. On the other hand, pet owners who understand these qualities in their own animals might be able to provide a better quality of life for their pet.

Source: Queen’s University, Belfast

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 03, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 03, 2019
Florida's Manatees Are a Conservation Success Story
Manatees are be a common sight for Floridians who reside close to rivers and other natural waterways, but there was once a time when that wasn’t the...
JAN 17, 2020
Health & Medicine
JAN 17, 2020
Next Big Thing For Cannabis Users: Sublingual Strips?
Aleafia Health signed an agreement with Kinstate, Inc. allowing the company to manufacture, market, and sell Kin Slips and the technology behind these cann...
JAN 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 19, 2020
Flying Foxes Must be Careful of Crocodiles When Hydrating
Flying foxes absolutely despise the Sun, and with that in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that they look for shade whenever possible. One pro...
JAN 29, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 29, 2020
New Study Suggests Phytoplankton Will Thrive, not Decline
Based on current Earth models, which project warming seas and nutrient depletion, scientists widely believe that phytoplankton biomass will decline in...
FEB 01, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 01, 2020
Cut the ozone, help the plants
Researchers from the University of Exeter report in Nature Climate Change their findings of a new "natural climate solution”: reducing emissions...
FEB 23, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 23, 2020
These Sharks Stay Warm on Deep Dives, But How?
It’s no secret that ocean waters become substantially colder as you venture further beneath the surface; this is because the Sun’s rays can onl...
Loading Comments...