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It is a common wives' tale that putting peanut butter (or sometimes just butter) on a cat's paws will help a cat not get lost in a new environment.

Advocates of this give many varying reasons why it's true.

Some say:

when they lick off the butter, they remove traces of the old territory (their comfort zone or 'home') which makes them less likely to try to stray to refind their comfort zone.

Others say:

the butter and the bits of debris that will eneviatibly stick to it will annoy the cat. Thus, making the cat sit down for a minute and take in it's surroundings creating a mental map of where it's home it.

I have also been told that it helps them take in the new scents before they go to far without having a good familiarly with the scents that indicate there new home.

Some people reject it altogether:

Putting butter on your cat's paws won't stop it from getting lost when it moves to a new home.

So, is there any real evidence that supports any of these claims? In lieu of a controlled study, is there more precise scientific reasoning that would support one claim over the others?

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    This sounds like a rumor someone deliberately started to screw with cat owners. I can't be the only one that finds the image of someone trying to butter a cat's paws absolutely hilarious. – NonSequitur May 22 '11 at 20:50
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    /afk getting butter – Darwy May 22 '11 at 20:54
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    "not get lost...hmmm don't know..." Will putting butter on your cat's paws make them dance a funny jig...definitely. – Cos Callis May 22 '11 at 21:54
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    @Non Maybe it is, but many cat owners still claim its effectiveness. Then they back it up with pseudo scientific reasoning. @Darwy lol, I guess you are going to do a case study. – logicbird May 22 '11 at 22:20
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    You could also make the hypothesis that the cat will then leave a trail of peanut butter smell when it explores, allowing it to easily find its way back. Short of buttering/jamming/oiling/odourless liquiding some cats and releasing them I can't think how you would actually prove/disprove this though. – Nick Sep 5 '12 at 9:10

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