Is your animal right- or left-handed?

Is your animal right- or left-handed?

December 3, 2019

As soon as a toddler reaches for a pencil, most parents have the same question in mind: is my child left- or right-handed? But what about cats or dogs? A left-handed dog? An ambidextrous kitten? Yes! Your companion animal does have a dominant side. And to find out which it is, pay attention when your dog scratches at the door or when your cat lunges at a toy. Could your animal be ambidextrous? Perhaps, but if you look more closely you’ll see that in most cases an animal will tend to favour one side. Can we infer specific personality traits based on the side they prefer? That’s a whole other story.

Coming back to cats: researchers at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland studied 44 domestic cats to see if they were right- or left-pawed. Published in Animal Behaviour, their study found that male cats tend to favour their left side whereas female cats are more likely to be right-pawed. What are the relevance of these findings? The subject is important enough to have intrigued scientists. Alas, between the right-handed and left-handed, the study didn’t mention which group did a better job catching mice! (Marilou Rochefort)

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