Statistically, about 90% of humans are right-handed and 10% are left-handed. Very few people are naturally ambidextrous, i.e., adept at using both hands. Last year, I was not able to use my right hand for a few weeks and discovered just how difficult it can be to use your non-dominant hand. Simple everyday tasks like brushing my teeth and cutting up vegetables became almost an exercise in futility. They could be done, but not easily.
So when I read recently that studies suggest dogs and cats also have a “dominant paw” (or paw preference) for certain tasks, I was intrigued. The research indicated that the left paw/right paw division is more evenly distributed than with humans – a dog’s paw preference was split fifty-fifty while cats were 50% right-pawed, 40% left-pawed and 10% ambidextrous.
Moreover, there’s even a DIY test developed by Dr. Stefanie Schwartz of the Veterinary Neurology Center in California, which you can do yourself to determine if your pet is right or left pawed! The catch is that you have to repeat the test 100 times. For me personally, this means that although I am curious about the paw preferences of my three cats, I’ve not taken the time to test any of them. Maybe someday when I don’t have to do things like work, eat and sleep, I will. Oh, and I’d also need to have a great deal more patience, which I’d surely need to test three willful felines who typically won’t do anything I ask them to. However, if you really want to figure out the paw preference of your own dog or cat, read on.