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
JUL 12, 2018
Videos
JUL 12, 2018
Why Poison Ivy Makes us Itch
For some people, summer comes with a risk of many itchy nuisances, including poison ivy....
JUL 23, 2018
Microbiology
JUL 23, 2018
Anglerfish Alert Researchers to a Third Type of Symbiosis
The light from inside the anglerfish bulb is made by bioluminescent bacteria, a symbiotic relationship we know little about....
AUG 01, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 01, 2018
Lemur Populations in Serious Trouble, IUCN Says
Citing animal conservationists employed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at least 95% of the world’s lemur populations f...
AUG 21, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 21, 2018
2018: An Unlucky Year for Manatees?
Concerned animal conservationists have taken the stage to warn about some somewhat unsettling news in the marine mammal world. As it would seem, there&rsqu...
SEP 05, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 05, 2018
Bigger Birds Dominate Food Sources, Study Finds
Setting out bird feeders stocked with fresh seeds is a common practice among bird lovers and nature appreciators. But would you actually be doing local bir...
SEP 12, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 12, 2018
Global Turtle Decline Adversely Impacts the Surrounding Ecosystem
The Earth is home to a wide assortment of turtle species, but many populations continue to decline despite rigorous conservation efforts that are intended...
Loading Comments...