August 11, 2021 Cats Dogs

Are Dogs Left Handed and Cats Right Handed?

Cat looking into the camera and holding out it's paw for owner who is holding onto their paw

Are Dogs Left Handed and Cats Right Handed?

Left handers day is this Friday, August 13th. Given that I am the daughter, wife, mother and sister of left handers, the day reminds me of my favorite family members. But what about dogs and cats — can they be left or right handed?

Defining Handedness

The term “handedness” applies to people but doesn’t quite fit our furry friends. “Pawedness” or “paw preference” are common terms in the scientific literature. In dogs, a common test to determine pawedness is the Kong ball test. If a dog is a leftie, he will use the left paw to stabilize the Kong so he can lick out a tasty treat; righties will use the right paw.

Determining paw preference in cats is a bit different. Tasty treats are placed into a food maze with openings large enough for the cat’s paws to reach in and remove treats. If the cat is a leftie, she removes the treats with her left paw; righties will use the right paw.

Is My Pet a Leftie or Righty?

An analysis of multiple studies on paw preference in dogs and cats showed that most have a dominant paw. About three-quarters of cats demonstrate a paw preference, while just under 70% of dogs exhibit this trait. Unlike humans, there does not seem to be a preference for right handedness. Cats and dogs are equally right or left pawed. However, female cats seem to be more commonly right handed than male cats. Gender did not influence pawedness in dogs.

Pawedness and Behavior

Researchers have studied the impact of pawedness on dog behavior. Some studies find dogs without a paw preference are more proactive in problem solving than those with a paw preference. Other studies found dogs with a paw preference were faster to settle in a resting position in a strange environment. Dogs without a paw preference seem to be more sensitive to noise.

In a study of leftie, righty and cats without a paw preference, feline temperament was linked to pawedness. Cats with a strong paw preference were more confident, affectionate, active and friendly than those without a paw preference. Owners scored their right pawed cats as more playful than left pawed cats or cats without a paw preference.

I bet I know what you are going to do right now, watch your dog or cat and see if you can determine if they are a righty or a leftie. Watching which paw they use first when walking or running can be a simple way to do this at home.

Tags: cats, handedness, pawedness,

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