Saturday, April 14, 2018


Image result for cat

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

If you have a cat, have you ever noticed or suspected a preference for it being right-pawed or left-pawed?  Do you know which paw they lead with as the step down from a step or when they step over an object? This dullard has never paid any attention to such details.

Anthropologist and aileurophile, Barbara J. King reported on a new study published in Animal Behaviour in which researchers found that of 44 cats involved in the study a paw preference was shown. The cats consisted of  24 male and 20 spayed females, composed of mixed breeds, and between 1 and 17 years old. One of the best aspects of this study is that the moggies were tested at home, in an environment in which they are comfortable and know well. Owners collected the data "until 50 responses were reached per question."

Unlike humans, this preference for laterality does not exhibit itself at the population level. Male kittehs were much more likely to be lefties while female kittehs were more likely to be righties.

The owners were also asked whether the cats preferred to sleep on the right or left side. This position does not show right or left lateralization.

There was one other test that required an experimental apparatus in which the moggies had to reach for food through holes. King notes that this is a "forced" test rather than the spontaneous tests the owners were observing.

Image result for catBarbara King's essay may be found here and I urge you to read it. Her account is full and rich. I just borrowed some notes. She includes some of her exchanges with one of the study co-authors, Deborah Wells as well as what this research may mean and why it is important.

"For the moment," King writes, "I'm headed off to watch my cats more closely than I ever have before."

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