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Laterality as a Tool for Assessing Breed Differences in Emotional Reactivity in the Domestic Cat, Felis silvestris catus

By Deborah L. Wells, Louise J. McDowell

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Cat breeds differ enormously in their behavioural disposition, a factor that can impact on the pet-owner relationship, with indirect consequences for animal welfare. This study examined whether lateral bias, in the form of paw preference, can be used as a tool for assessing breed differences in emotional reactivity in the cat. The paw preferences of 4 commonly owned breeds were tested using a food-reaching challenge. Cats were more likely to be paw-preferent than ambilateral. Maine Coons, Ragdolls and Bengals were more likely to be paw-preferent than ambilateral, although only the Bengals showed a consistent preference for using one paw (left) over the other. The strength of the cats’ paw use was related to cat breed, with Persians being more weakly lateralised. Direction of paw use was unrelated to feline breed, but strongly sex-related, with male cats showing a left paw preference and females displaying a right-sided bias. We propose that paw preference measurement could provide a useful method for assessing emotional reactivity in domestic cats. Such information would be of benefit to individuals considering the acquisition of a new cat, and, in the longer term, may help to foster more successful cat-owner relationships, leading to indirect benefits to feline welfare.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 9
Pages 10
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9090647
URL https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/9/647
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal welfare
  2. Breeding
  3. Cats
  4. Emotions
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  7. preferences
Badges
  1. open access