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We report the observation of contrasting magnetic behavior in cobalt ferrite (CFO) thin films deposited on single crystalline magnesium oxide (MgO) and strontium titanate (STO). Epitaxial films on MgO (100) with a lattice mismatch of 0.35% showed out-of-plane anisotropy whereas the films on STO (100) with a lattice mismatch of 7.4% displayed in-plane anisotropy. Stress anisotropy calculated from angle-dependent x-ray diffraction analysis confirmed that the change in anisotropy originates from the lattice mismatch. An additional low-field switching characteristic is observed in the M-H loops of the CFO films, which became prominent with lowering temperature as also evidenced from the rf transverse susceptibility measurements. The obtained results revealed that the low field switching is associated with the film-substrate interface.