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Int J Neurosci. 1991 Aug;59(4):219-29.

The distribution of paw preference in right-, left-, and mixed pawed male and female cats: the role of a female right-shift factor in handedness.

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Atatürk University, Medical Faculty, Institute of Physiology, Erzurum, Turkey.


The distribution of paw preference was studied in male and female cats. Paw preference was assessed by the food reaching test. Of the total sample (N = 109), 54 (49.5%) cats were found to be right-preferent, 44 (40.4%) left-preferent, and 11 (10.1%) ambidextrous. In females (N = 63), 34 cats (54.0%) were right-preferent, 23 (36.5%) left-preferent, and 6 (9.5%) ambidextrous. The proportion of the right-preferents was found to be significantly higher than that for the left-preferents in females as in humans. Of the male cats (N = 46), 20 (43.5%) were right-preferent, 21 (45.7%) left-preferent, and 5 (10.9%) ambidextrous. The proportion of the strongly right-preferent females (44%) was found to be significantly higher than that of the strongly right-preferent males (28%) as in humans. In the right-preferent animals, the incidence of the moderate left-paw use was found to be higher in males than females. There was no significant difference in the proportions of the strongly left-preferent males and females. It was concluded that the U-shaped distribution of paw preference in cats is largely shaped by females and a prominent left-paw use of males. The results provided evidence for a right-biased paw preference in females compared to males, indicating that females may be responsible for the emergence of cerebral lateralization and hand preference in animals and humans. It was tentatively suggested that a female right-shift factor may be required for the emergence of a right-bias in handedness. The absence of this factor would decrease the chance of being right-handed and increase the vulnerability of the developing brain to environmental influences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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