Wednesday 2 November 2011

Are cats left pawed?

Left-handed cat - Photo by pepleo
38.3% of cats are left-handed. 20% are right-handed and 41.7% are ambidextrous. This is the conclusion of a study of 60 cats, entitled "Paw preference in cats related to hand preference in animals and men". Cole, J. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, Vol 48(2), Apr 1955, 137-140.

The reason is put down to "innate anatomical structure" - not sure what that means other than it just happens.

The findings are interesting. Let's not forget that this is a small sample and one study. However, my personal first hand experiences of living with cats is that my old lady cat appears to use both forelimbs equally but favors her left forelimb. This supports the findings.

My three legged boy has lost his right forelimb so he's gotta be left-handed! The Japanese bobtail "Maneki Neko" is left-handed (see below). This is correct based on the research.

maneki neko statue

japanese bobtail

Why are cats more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous than people? Apparently 90%  of people are right-handed. The answer must lie in the wild cat, the wild ancestor of the domestic cat and for us it lies in the primates, our wild ancestors. My guess is that there is a need in cats to have near equality of dexterity of both forelimbs in hunting, climbing and chasing, whereas for humans, in using tools, one hand suffices. Also by favoring one hand it becomes more practiced and dexterous.

The photo of the Japanese bobtail by Helmi Flick is protected by copyright ©. Violations of copyright are reported to (DMCA).

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