I’ve probably seen this scene hundreds of times: the cat wants to get into the house and hits the door with one paw. At some point we paid attention to whether he was drumming on the glass with his left or his right. Clearly – it was left-handed every time.

Apparently our family isn’t the only one wondering whether their pet is left-handed or right-handed. Shortly before the turn of the year, the debate flared up in the online media here as to whether cats have a dominant paw. Several articles encourage cat owners to carry out small experiments with their animals: which paw do they use to fish for a treat and which do they use to get into the litter box first?

An article on the pet portal “Petbook” is currently drawing attention to the topic. In it, the author gives a brief overview of the current state of research on the phenomenon of paw preference in domestic cats. She also immediately tested her knowledge on editorial cat “Remo”. He’s also a left-footer.

In fact, the topic has been a subject of research for several years. It is generally known in the animal kingdom that there are differences as to whether left or right feet, hooves, paws or even fins dominate. Like humans, many animal species are more dexterous with one of their two limbs.

So do cats also have a dominant paw? The best-known research contributions on this question come from a group of scientists led by the British researchers Deborah L. Wells and Sarah Millsopp, who have been studying this in more detail since 2009. At that time, they examined a total of 42 cats and gave them three different tasks: The animals had to fish a treat out of a glass, reach for a toy that was dangling above them and catch one that was dragged across the floor in front of them. “Male men were more inclined to use their left paw,” the two researchers wrote in a brief summary at Sciencedirect.com at the time. Females preferred the right paw.

More research followed in the years that followed, including one published at Queen’s University, Belfast. This also included observations from pet owners who observed the behavior of their cats in a familiar and therefore stress-free environment. The result was the same: As soon as a task became a little more demanding, tomcats usually used their left paw and cats used their right paw. The scientists wrote that the paw preference is probably hormonally controlled. But how exactly and at what point in time this preference for a paw develops in a cat’s life has not yet been researched in detail.

Our cat died a few years ago. Now the neighbor’s cat from the parallel street sometimes visits us, and we look after it from time to time during the holiday season. This female animal also drums on the door when she wants to come into our apartment – but with a completely different technique than our tomcat used: she takes both front paws at the same time.

Apparently she believes that there are much more complex things in life than hitting a pane of glass with her paws and getting a door opened.

Quellen: “Petbook”, “ScienceDirect”, Queen’s University Belfast, “Welt.de”, “WMN.de”

Read at stern: A professor writes about genetics and field research – and in the case of Jonathan B. Losos, an exciting non-fiction book comes out. Animal lovers find out how the cat once came “from the savannah to the sofa”.