Whether stalking down the stairs or tiptoeing into the litter box, cats have a preference for which paw they put forward, according to new research, with females favouring their right paw and males their left.
Scientists say that while such preferences are a matter of individual inclination, males generally prefer stepping out with their left foot, while females typically favour their right.
The team say understanding paw preference could offer insights into an animal’s vulnerability to stress.
“Left-limbed animals, which rely more heavily on their right hemisphere for processing information, tend to show stronger fear responses, aggressive outbursts, and cope more poorly with stressful situations than animals that are right-limbed and rely more heavily on their left hemisphere for processing,” said Dr Deborah Wells, co-author of the research from Queen’s University, Belfast, adding that the right hemisphere is more responsible for processing of negative emotions.
The study was conducted in owners’ homes and focused on spontaneous behaviour. In total, the team analysed data from 44 cats, 20 of which were female, collected by owners tracking which paw their cat used for taking the first step down stairs and stepping into the litter box, and which side their feline preferred to recline on. Over the course of three months owners recorded 50 instances of each behaviour.
Read More: The Guardian