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Do Cats Have a Dominant Paw?

Science Fair project for 8th grade!
by

Sophia Jones

on 31 March 2015

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Transcript of Do Cats Have a Dominant Paw?

Do Cats Have a Dominant Paw?
Key Words
Research Description
There are five main parts of a cat’s brain, the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes and the cerebellum. The four lobes control different functions of the body and help the organism perform tasks. The frontal lobe controls decision making, problem solving, and consciousness. The parietal lobe receives and processes information collected from the nervous system. The temporal lobe controls emotions, hearing, memory, learning, and language. The occipital lobe receives and processes all information from the eyes. The cerebellum controls and regulates the balance and coordination of movements of the organism.
Hypothesis
I believe that cats have dominant paws and they use them to complete tasks because cats have a similar brain structure to humans. This most likely means that a cat’s body is controlled by two sections of the brain, like humans are, and therefore would use one forepaw more because one half of the brain is stronger than the other.
Procedure
1. Gather materials
2. Isolate 1 cat in an empty room
3. Place a stationary mouse toy in front of the cat
4. Observe the cat and record results (which paw the cat used)
5. Remove the toy and replace with a jar that has a treat inside
6. Lay the jar on its side so the opening is facing the cat
7. Repeat step 4
8. Remove treat and jar and replace with a feather toy
Materials
Cats (4)
Treats, feather toy, stationary mouse toy, and jar
By Sophia Jones
SPI 0807.5.2 Analyze structural, behavioral, and physiological adaptations to predict which populations are likely to survive in a particular environment.
Brain Lateralization
Cerebellum
Dominant
Fine Motor Control
Frontal Lobe
Occipital Lobe
Parietal Lobe
Temporal Lobe
The idea that the two halves of the brain do different functions.
The cerebellum plays an important role in the movements of the body, but don't initiate them. It helps with coordination, precision, and accurate timing.
The most important, powerful, or influential.
The coordination of muscles, bones, and nerves to produce fine, precise movements.
The frontal lobe is responsible for consciousness, decision making, and memory and contains the primary cortex.
The part of the cerebral cortex that processes visual stimuli.
The parietal lobe is the part of the cerebral cortex that processes sensory information collected from the body and contains the primary sensory cortex.
The temporal lobe is the part of the cerebral cortex that mainly processes hearing and understanding language.
Human's and cat's brains are divided into four lobes, three cortices, the cerebellum, and the brain stem. The brain has two hemispheres which control opposite sides of the body, the function of these two sides is called brain lateralization. This leads to the learning of fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are precise movements that are learned and perfected over time. These precise movements are controlled by the primary motor cortex and are performed better by the dominant side of the body, such as the dominant hand. The dominant hand is the hand that a person can control best. Everyone is born with their dominant hand predetermined for them. Some people, however, can change dominant hands when they are very young.
Treats/toys
Independent Variable
Dependent Variable
The cat's paw
9. Hold the toy diagonally up from the cat and gently swing it from side to side
10. Repeat step 4
11. Create a graph and/or a chart to show results
12. Examine results and calculate percentages for each cat based on which paw they used the most

Meet the Cats!
C-Breeze
Sun-e
Bella
Gracie
57%
43%
right paw
left paw
Male
6 years old
Female
4 years old
Female
6 years old
Female
12 years old
Sun-E
62%
38%
left paw
right paw
C-Breeze
64%
36%
Bella
left paw
right paw
Gracie
57%
43%
left paw
right paw
10
20
30
40
left paw
right paw
17
23
C-Breeze
Sun-E
Bella
Gracie
29
11
12
28
18
22
Test 1 - Stationary Mouse Toy
How Many Times Each Paw Was Used
Cats
How Many Times Each Paw Was Used
Cats
Test 2 - Treat in a Jar
10
20
30
40
10
30
32
8
16
24
15
25
C-Breeze
Sun-E
Bella
Gracie
left paw
right paw
Test 3 - Feather Toy
10
20
30
40
C-Breeze
Sun-E
Bella
Gracie
25
15
14
26
15
25
19
21
Cats
How Many Times Each Paw Was Used
left paw
right paw
left
right
Stationary Mouse Toy
Treat in a Jar
Feather Toy
C-Breeze
Sun-E
Bella
Gracie
17
10
25
29
32
14
12
16
15
18
15
19
Male, 6 years old
Female, 4 years old
Female, 6 years old
Female 12 years old
23
30
15
11
8
26
28
24
25
22
25
12
Results
In Test 1, the stationary mouse toy, three of the four cats had over 50% right paw dominance while the remaining cat had almost 75% left paw dominance. This shows that the one cat uses their left paw for hunting small animals and retrieving slow or unmoving organisms while the other three cats show that they use their right paw for these tasks. In Test 2, the treat in a jar, the same three cats as above used their right paw over 60% of the time while the remaining cat had over 75% left paw dominance again. And finally in Test 3, the feather toy, the three cats that mainly had right paw dominance had about 50% right paw dominance and the other cat had over 50% right paw dominance instead of left paw dominance. This shows that the section of the brain involved in understanding overhead movements is stronger on the opposite side of the brain than the section of the brain involved in understanding movement that is directly in front of the organism.

Based on these results, cats with a dominant paw and a higher functioning brain that has divided sections are more likely to survive and compete in an environment.
Conclusion
Do cats have dominant paws? Yes, but it varies based off of their environment because they are affected by the organisms and objects within it. Humans and cats share a similar brain structure, but cats aren't advanced enough to perform complex tasks. My hypothesis that cats have a dominant paw is correct because one side of a cat's brain has to be stronger than the other even if it isn't shown drastically. If I were to repeat this experiment, I would test more cats and go further in depth about how the brain is involved in this project.
All the time we are learning that our pets are just like us, except for their abundance of fur and our abundance of technological knowledge, but what do we know about cats other than their determination to rule the household? We live alongside animals in our everyday lives, so we need to connect with them on a personal level. Most people that have cats say that they are part of their family and isn’t it only right to know as much as you can about your family members? What I wanted to know is whether or not cats have a dominant paw because one of my cats has trouble opening a door when it’s ajar. To perform my experiment, I gathered four cats and tested them individually with different stimuli to find their dominant paw. Three of the cats ended up with 60% right paw dominance while the other ended up with about 60% left paw dominance. I conclude that cats do have dominant paws because they need to have the control over one paw in order to survive in their environment. Also, those that are ambidextrous have a higher chance of surviving because they have equal control on both paws.
Abstract
Controlled Variable
Environment; cats
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