Q: Can cats be right- or left-handed like humans? My cat Roxie seems to be right-handed, like me.
A: Yes, most cats do have a dominant paw, though many cats are ambidextrous for easy maneuvers, such as batting a toy around the floor.
Research that assigns cats more difficult tasks, such as digging food from a jar, shows that most cats do indeed prefer to use either the right or left front paw. Amazingly, almost all female cats are right-handed, while almost all males are left-handed.
If you want to determine Roxie’s handedness, try these tests:
- Place a morsel of tuna in a jar and watch which paw she uses to dig it out.
- Hide some kibble under a bowl and see which paw she uses to push aside the bowl.
- Put a bit of sticky Laxatone, canned cat food or meat baby food on her nose and note which paw she uses to remove it.
Repeat each test many times over several days to confirm which of Roxie’s front paws is dominant.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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