Cats are some of the more mysterious creatures we choose to let into our homes. Unlike dogs, their lives don’t revolve around us. They play on their own, they sleep for most of the day, and when they are awake, they’d prefer to spend their time in rooms where you’re not.
So what do we actually know about these mercurial fluff balls? As a seasoned cat owner, I can say I know these four things: When a cat rubs against your leg, they like you; tuna treats are almost always appreciated; hissing equals bad situation; and tail up means “welcome home, now feed me.” And that’s from decades of hanging out with them. However, today I get to add one more thing to this list. I now know (or am at least 80 percent certain) which paw is my cat’s dominant paw.
Now how did I figure this out, you ask? Very simple — I sought inspiration from everyone’s favorite cat ham, Maru. Maru’s owner demonstrated one method, with Maru’s assistance (in spite of Hana’s diversion), that you can use to determine whether your cat is left- or right-pawed. All she did was put a few treats in a small glass and waited for Maru to fish them out. At first Maru seemed to think he might be able to squeeze his whole head in there (this is, after all, the cat who can fit into the tiniest boxes), but sooner or later he started using his right paw. So there you have it — Maru is officially a righty!
Looks pretty simple, right? I didn’t think I’d have any trouble making this work with my own cats. Until I realized my cats are weird.
So… it turns out Bill doesn’t like treats nearly as much as he likes his mouse. But hey, the experiment worked in the end, right? Bill’s a lefty! Well, probably. We did do the experiment a number of times before we got it on film, and I’d say about 80 percent of the time Bill was left paw dominant. However, to be totally sure, scientists say you need to test cats at least 100 times. Let’s just say by the 10th time, Bill decided he’d rather watch TV.
According to a 1991 Turkish study on the subject, if Bill is indeed a lefty, he’s in the minority, as about 40 percent of the cats they tested favored their left compared to 50 percent who favored their right. Meanwhile, I still have no idea which paw my girl cat, Vespa, favors, because she refused to take part in the experiment (she’s got a super-busy schedule these days).
But for now I can rejoice in the fact that my boy kitty and I have at least two things in common: We’re both left-handed, and we both have the same hair color (only his is natural).