Paw preferences in cats and dogs: Meta-analysis

Sebastian Ocklenburg, Sevim Isparta, Jutta Peterburs, Marietta Papadatou-Pastou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Predator–prey relationships have been suggested to be one of the primary evolutionary factors driving the development of functional hemispheric asymmetries. However, lateralization in many predator species is not well understood and existing studies often are statistically underpowered due to small sample sizes and they moreover show conflicting results. Here, we statistically integrated findings on paw preferences in cats and dogs, two predator species within the Carnivora order that are commonly kept as pets in many societies around the globe. For both species, there were significantly more lateralized than non-lateralized animals. We found that 78% of cats and 68% of dogs showed either left- or right-sided paw preference. Unlike humans, neither dogs nor cats showed a rightward paw preference on the population level. For cats, but not dogs, we found a significant sex difference, with female animals having greater odds of being right-lateralized compared to male animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Carnivora
  • Handedness
  • hemispheric asymmetries
  • limb preferences
  • meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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