Is your pet right or left-handed? The DIY test that uses cheese, sofas and the backdoor to find out... but you have to do it 100 timesBy Daily Mail Reporter
Ever wondered which paw your pet would clutch a pen with, should it develop opposable thumbs?
Quite possibly not. But if you have, this could be just the thing you've been waiting for.
Dr. Stefanie Schwartz of the Veterinary Neurology Center in Tustin, Calififornia, claims to have developed a test to figure out whether a dog or cat is right or left-handed.
Paw preference won't make a dog or cat walk, talk or wink like a human. You won't even get a high-five or a fist pump out of it. But vets and owners reckons the curiosity factor will have pet owners clamoring to find out if theirs is a leftie or a rightie.
Some horses have to be ambidextrous, said Dr. Sharon Crowell-Davis, a behavior and anatomy professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia.
In U.S. racing, horses only have to lean left because all races are run counterclockwise on tracks, but in some competitions and in some other countries, horses have to race and canter both ways.
'They have to be able to circle right and left. If not, they can trip,' Crowell-Davis said. 'You have to work to get them to take the lead they prefer less.'
For dogs and cats their well-being doesn't depend on preference.
A 1991 study at Ataturk University in Turkey showed 50 per cent of cats were right-pawed, 40 per cent were left-pawed and 10 per cent were ambidextrous. That study might be out-of-date, Schwartz said, but it does provide percentages.
A 2006 study from the University of Manchester in England showed dogs were split half-and-half.
About 90 per cent of humans are right-handed and 10 per cent are left-handed.
But for now, if you care enought, Schwartz has a series of tests that she says will determine the paw preference of your pet, when performed 100 times.
She suggests filling a toy with something delicious and putting it in the center of the dog's visual field. Which paw does it use to touch the toy first? Which paw does the dog use to hold the toy?
Or you could put something sticky on a dog or cat's nose and take note of which paw it uses to remove it? Place a treat or a piece of cheese under a sofa, just beyond a dog or cat's reach, she says. Which paw does it use to try and get it out?
Other indicators include which paw a dog offers to shake when asked or knock the backdoor with when it wants to be let in. Similarly for cats you can track which paw it uses to bat a dangled toy or to reach a treat lurking under a bowl.
When a cat really wants something, she said, tests show it uses its dominant paw, but when it's just fooling around it may use either or both.
And it is also possible that handedness in dogs, and maybe cats, will change over time as the animal's motivation changes.
Robin A.F. Olson, founder and president of rescue organisation Kitten Associates Inc, said her cats are always reaching for toys or treats with one paw or another.
'I try not to be judgmental of my cats' abilities or lack thereof. We will never worry about the anti-paw.'
It appears that Nora, an internationally acclaimed 8-year-old piano-playing tabby from Philadelphia, owned by piano teacher Betsy Alexander and her artist-photographer husband, Burnell Yow, is right-pawed.
Yow studied her videos and 'determined that she appears to lead with her right paw, then follow with her left,' Alexander said.
But she has her ambidextrous, headstrong moments.
'She uses both paws to reach for specific notes, even black notes ... and she uses her head to roll a series of multiple notes.'
Burning question or a waste of time? How to find out if your pet is a leftie or rightie
Fill a toy with something delicious and put it in the center of the dog's visual field. Which paw does it use to touch the toy first? Which paw does the dog use to hold the toy?
Put something sticky on a dog or cat's nose. Which paw does the animal use to remove it?
Place a treat or a piece of cheese under a sofa, just beyond a dog or cat's reach. Which paw does it use to try and get it out?
Dangle a toy over a cat's head. Which paw does it lift to bat it?
Put a treat under a bowl. Which paw does the cat or dog use to move it?
When a dog wants in the backdoor, which paw does it 'knock' with?