Are Laser Pointers Bad For Cats? Laser Toys & Its Effects On Your Cats
Looking for an easy-to-use cat play toy that can keep your feline friend physically active? Then lasers must be on your list.
Laser pointers are fun but their reputation isn’t all good compared to other toys. Because of this, pet parents hesitate to use it. And so we wonder: what’s the real deal behind laser toys? Are laser pointers bad for cats?
Fact is, many cats love laser pointers. If you’ve seen the numerous cute videos of cats chasing the moving red laser dot, you’d know how these toys can make them crazy excited. But just like any other toy, it pays to know the right way to use laser pointer toys.
So, if you are a cat parent who’s planning to spend their quality time playing a game of laser tag with your furry friend, read on. Feline Living is here to tell you the pros and cons of using a laser pointer for play and much more.
Cats & Why They’re So Obsessed With Laser Pointers
Cats are natural predators. Born with a high prey drive, your cat’s hunting instincts automatically kick in once your cat sees the quick movements of the red dot.
Chasing the red dot fulfills your cat’s urge to stalk prey. This is because cats view the red dot as a fast-moving prey that’s alive and that’s worth chasing and catching – think bugs or insects.
Are Laser Pointers Bad For Cats?
If you want a short answer, the answer is Yes and No.
Playing laser tag with your cat (or your dog) has its pros and cons. When cats chase that squiggly red laser beam dot, cats are rewarded with a couple of benefits.
However, there’s also a downside to it if used the wrong way. It all boils down to what type of laser pointer is used and how the pet parents use it.
How Laser Pointers Can Be Beneficial For Your Cat
All we want is for our pet cats to live longer lives, and one way to do that is to incorporate at least one hour of play in their day-to-day activities.
Like little kids, your cats need playtime to satisfy their natural prey drive. Besides that, letting your cat chase that red laser light also does the following:
Encourages Physical Activity
Naptime seems to take most of a cat’s daily itinerary. This is especially true for indoor cats.
Unlike cats that roam free outdoors and climb trees, most cats that stay indoors tend to live a laidback, sedentary life. Enter: Laser pointers.
Lasers come in handy whenever you want your cat to have a good physical exercise. A laser pointer serves as a great tool that you can use to engage your kitty in a fun, high-energy cardio workout. This, in turn, will help your cat build muscle, lose pounds, and keep them on their toes.
Keeps Cats Mentally Stimulated
Cats may look like they’re enjoying their do-nothing lifestyle, but cats also require mental stimulation (like your pet dog). And you know what? Chasing cat toys like laser beams does the trick.
A quick session of catch-that-laser-light is like a hunting game for cats. It requires mental focus and will keep your cat mentally active. This will help your cat improve its hunting ability by honing its decision-making and problem-solving skills.
Great Bonding Activity For Cats
Besides strengthening the bond between you and your cat, laser pointers also make for an excellent get-to-know activity.
Introducing a new cat to other cats can be stressful given cats’ territorial nature. But laser pointers serve as an excellent distraction.
If you’re in a room with two cats trying to get to know each other, you might want to try playing with both of them using a laser pointer.
Just make sure to have two laser pointers so that each cat has their own laser light to chase. Wait for the two to feel at ease before letting the two cats play together.
Dangers Of Using Cat Laser Pointers
Yes, lasers can provide key stimulation to physically and mentally inactive cats. Besides that, it also helps cats bond with each other. Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games if done the wrong way.
To keep your pets safe, happy, and satisfied during and after a game of laser tag, it’s always a good idea to know all the risks involved.
This way, you can enjoy playtime without having to worry about your cat’s state after or making a quick visit to a cat veterinarian.
May Damage Your Cat’s Eyes
Some pet owners choose to use other cat toys because they worry that the laser beams will damage their pets’ vision (cats and dogs included).
And this can happen, especially if you’re using the wrong kind – think high-powered laser pointers with over five milliwatts of output power.
Exposure to the light coming from high-wattage lasers can literally burn the retina of your kitty in a split second. Don’t worry, though, because most laser pointers for cats use a low wattage light with 1mW of power.
Can Be Physically Demanding
Chasing a zippy red dot can really tire your cat. So, make sure not to overdo it. Apart from that, mindlessly pointing the red light on walls, shelves, and all sorts of things can put your cat in harm’s way.
Despite cats’ ability to land on their feet, your pets can still slip, fall, and even hit their head on the wall when they’re dead set on catching that beam of light. This might leave your home all messed up and your kitty hurt and injured.
May Cause Anxiety & Stress
Besides the possible physical trauma, what is more worrisome is your cat’s mental state after a laser pointer game. This game can leave your cat (or even your dog) with feelings of frustration.
Remember, your cat thinks that that light is alive. For them, it’s not just a red dot but a prey. So, imagine your cat’s frustration each time your cat catches it. Despite all their attempts, your pet cat ends up with nothing.
And since some cats can be easily stressed, it’s possible for a cat dealing with a lot of pent-up frustration to redirect these negative emotions on others.
Your cat may start exhibiting destructive behavior, including aggression towards you or other pets. They may also shift that emotion on themselves and show signs of excessive grooming and scratching.
Tips On How To Play Laser Toy With Your Cat
Yes. You can still safely play laser pointer with your kitty despite all the risks.
A game of laser chase does not have to end up with an emergency visit to your cat vet. It can still be exhilarating and enjoyable for both you and your cat. How? Simply follow the safety tips below, and you’re good to go,
Use Low-Wattage Cat Laser Pointers
If you’re planning to play laser chase with your cat, make sure to use a low-wattage laser pointer or those specifically made for pets. Modified lasers are a No-no.
Most (if not all) cat laser pointers emit red light. That’s because green laser pointers are 10 to 50 times brighter than the red ones. This makes them a lot more dangerous.
Avoid Pointing The Laser Beam Directly To Your Cat’s Eyes
Although shining the beam of a low-wattage laser toy to your cat’s eyes for a few minutes will probably leave your cat’s vision unharmed, prolonged exposure might.
So, it’s a good practice to never point the beam towards your pet cat (or even other humans or your dog). Instead, point the light at the space in front or beside your cat.
The Play Area Must Be Free From Hazards
An open space is an ideal playing ground if you want to have a game of chase with your cat. But if that’s not possible, you might want to keep the playing field low to the ground.
Although your cats may look cute when they’re sliding all over the place and jumping over stuff (even your large dog, if you have one), they might get hurt.
To avoid this, refrain from pointing the laser toy on high shelving or things that might move or fall over when your cat tries to catch the dot.
Keep Playtime Short But Sweet
A game of chase requires a lot of energy. Too much can leave your cat feeling tired and exhausted. So, you might want to allot short intervals for play. If your cat looks tired, give your kitty a break and let it rest.
Let Them Win
To avoid damaging your cat’s psyche, it’s also a good idea to let them win. Aside from allowing your cat to catch that elusive red dot from time to time, you might also want to try the following:
End The Game With A Physical Prize
Instead of ending the game by turning off the pointer, focus the light on something your cat can physically play with (like a toy). Once your cat catches it, you can quickly turn off the laser.
Turn That Light Into Something Tangible
Alternatively, you can put treats or your cat’s toys around the room. Shine the light occasionally on these objects and let your cat catch these every now and then.
Alternative Toys For Cats
If you or your cat is not a big fan of laser pointers, there are other toys your cats can play with. This includes toys that your cat can actually catch, like battery-operated or windup toys. A fishing pole with a catnip attached at the end will also work.
Laser pointers – the ones specifically made for pets – are safe to play with as long as you play smart and play safe. Yes, we want our pals to have the time of their lives, but their safety should always come first.
At the end of the day, all your cat wants is to spend some quality time with you. Whether it’s a game using DIY cat toys, like strings, toilet paper rolls, or even your old socks, your cats will end up loving you more, seeing that you’ve gone out of your way to play with them.