JAN 22, 2018 07:16 PM PST

New Study Aims to Understand Limb Preference in Cats

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
NOV 11, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 11, 2018
Bee Study Connects Social Behavior with Gene Variants
Researchers used a special kind of bee that can live in either social communities or isolation, as their research model....
DEC 09, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 09, 2018
Fishermen unite to sue big oil
Almost a month has gone by since fishermen in California and Oregon filed suit against big oil in California's Superior Court, demanding compensation f...
DEC 18, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 18, 2018
Learn Why the State of Utah Drops Fish From Airplanes
Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources drops thousands of fish into mountain lakes from airplanes every single year, and while it might seem like a po...
JAN 02, 2019
Health & Medicine
JAN 02, 2019
The Creatures Living on Our Skin
While the images that you find on different websites of mites that live on humans may be frightening, most have a symbiotic relationship with us and are as...
DEC 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 24, 2018
Decoding the Secrets of Howler Monkey Evolution
There exist a bevy of ways that an animal species can be driven to evolve, but one of the more controversial methods of evolution involves a process known...
DEC 24, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 24, 2018
Searching for the Secret of Planarians' Regenerative Abilities
There's nothing particularly striking about planarians on first glance, but they can regrow their whole body from a bit of tail....
Loading Comments...