Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Is Your Cat Left-Pawed or Right-Pawed?

I read an article in the LA Times that was interesting - Left-pawed or right-pawed: The camp your cat falls into is probably determined by its gender. Using various tests, researchers concluded that gender determines whether a cat shows a preference for its right or left paw for various tasks. When swatting at a toy mouse, all cats used both paws interchangeably. But for a more intricate task, male cats tended to use their left paws, and females used their right.

My cat Jack plays with a feather toyKnowing that my sample size of five cats was much too low, I thought I would test the researchers conclusions. I dangled a feather toy in front of Simon, and he just looked at me. Jack seemed interested, so I dangled the toy in front of him and he swatted with his left paw. I made a mental note. Again, left. Then left, left, right, right, right. This agreed with their findings: He used both paws interchangeably. Simon was now interested, and he performed similar to Jack. Daisy was next. When I dangled the feather toy in front of her, she almost exclusively used her left paw. This was contrary to the results of the research. I tried to tempt Abby with the toy, but by this time three other cats wanted to play, which did not please her, so she left the room. I did not test Baby as she was sleeping at the top of the cat tree.

Performing a more complex task - removing tuna from a jar - is where gender trends were apparent. Some of my cats are intolerant to fish, so this test was not going to happen with my crew.

Overall, my unscientific survey was inconclusive: Two males cats used both paws equally in a non-complex test, one female used her left paw almost exclusively, two females were not interested. I could test each cat at each task 100 times like the researchers did. I think not.

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