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Pet Handedness by Cleo, Brittany, Molly

People are either right or left-handed. We wondered if that goes for cats too. Why wouldn't they have their own paw preference? They have their own personalities. They even have their own "meows!" So we created an investigation to see if cats are right or left-pawed.

What did we do?
Cleo has a bunch of cats, so they were the perfect pets to help us in our investigation. We came up with experiments that tested each of her cats' paw preferences. For the first test, we put a treat inside a tube and watched which paw they used to grab the food. Next, we got out their favorite toy and recorded which paw the cats used to bat it. Last was the grooming test. We stuck a dab of peanut butter on their noses and wrote down which paw they cleaned themselves with. We did each test 10 times with each cat.

What did we find out?
The first cat, Nudge, was definitely not into our tests. He wouldn't do anything, so we took Nudge out of the investigation. The next cat, Little Debbie, used her left paw on the tube and toy tests, but used both paws equally for the peanut butter test. Overall, she seemed more left-pawed. Cle-cle used both paws equally. Brooklyn was right-pawed on almost all of the tests. So we learned that individual cats seem to have a paw preference, but we can't say yet whether most cats have the same preference or not. For our next question we want to see if the cat's age determines which paw it prefers to use. We're going to try to find more cats to study.

What can you do?
  • What about dogs? Do they favor one paw over the other? What tests would you design to investigate this?
  • Are you right-handed, left-handed or ambidextrous? Do you notice that you perform certain activities with one hand and other activities with the other? Do you write with your right hand but dial a phone with your left? Watch your friends' daily activities and jot down which hand they use for different tasks. Then, ask them if they think they're more right or left handed. Were they correct or did your results prove something else?
  • Why do animals prefer one paw to the other? Why do people? Go online and see what scientists are researching on this topic. Do you agree with them? What's your own theory? How would you test it?
  • Use this pets investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
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