Are Laser Pointers Good Toys For Cats?
Watching your cat play and goof around is fun, especially if it’s trying to catch a moving laser dot. Laser pointers aren’t new on the market and since cats are crazy about them, most feline pet parents out there have tried them out at least once in their lives.
Many pet supply manufacturers even produce laser pointers as cat toys. But over the past few years lasers have become the subject of controversy. Are they safe for cats? What risks to they pose? And are they an overall good toy for your precious feline furball?
We’ll let you answer the last question for yourself, but firstly, let’s go over the pros and cons of using laser pointers as toys for cats.
Pros of laser pointers
This might sound surprising, but laser pointers actually have a number of advantages for cats. Pure entertainment is the obvious one, so we won’t talk about that.
Physical exercise is of fundamental importance for every breed. Some cats, such as the American Shorthair, are more prone to becoming obese than others and they need extra activities. Others are simply too bored to bother exercising.
And even though the scratching post does provide some options, the laser pointer is the best form of physical exercise for your furball. The fact that it can never truly catch the laser dot will make it jump, twirl and run around like crazy!
Stimulation on a mental level
Felines are among nature’s best hunters. Their inborn hunting instincts remain partially rudiment when they are kept strictly indoors where they can’t hunt their prey and work for their food on daily basis. Laser pointers actually stimulate these hunting instincts more than you know.
Your kitty can play on its own, but nothing will substitute a nice play session, in which you’re involved too. Playing together offers a chance for proper bonding with your pet, regardless of the type of toy you’re using.
And yes, the same goes for laser pointers. Even though the cat’s senses will be occupied with the moving dot, it still knows that you’re there and you’re paying attention to it. Moreover, laser pointers are the purr-fect toy for those afternoons when you’re too lazy to play with your pet more actively.
Easy to play with
Unlike puzzle games, tunnels, fluffy cat wands or playing fetch – yes, you can teach your cat tricks and even how to play fetch – the laser pointer is actually quite easy to play with.
In fact, it’s so easy and entertaining that some interactive pet cameras like Petcube have built-in laser chaser games to keep your feline pal occupied while you’re away from home and it’s all alone.
Cons of laser pointers
Now that you’ve learned the basic advantages of using laser pointers when playing with a cat, let’s focus on their downsides.
Harmful for eyesight
A feline’s eyes are just one of the many things that make cats such notorious hunters. Their eyes are far more sensitive to light than the human eye is. As such, laser beams can do harm when pointed directly into them.
However, most manufacturers focusing on pet supplies use milder lasers of up to 5 milliwatts. These are perfectly safe for your cat, even if you happen to accidentally point them towards its eyes. Unfortunately, not all lasers are safe for a kitty’s eyesight. Before you purchase one, check the label to make sure it’s pet-friendly.
Lack of satisfaction
For a feline furball the hunt itself is satisfactory on a high level, but it’s not enough to fully make the kitty elated. The satisfaction of catching the prey is what truly makes a cat feel like it’s fulfilled its duties.
Sadly, kitties can’t get that from chasing a laser dot. And after a while the cat will become frustrated and anxious, which leads us to the next problem.
Triggers anxiety and bad behavior
Laser pointers can eventually trigger severe anxiety, which may result in problematic behavior. The lack of result from chasing the dot can make the cat take out its frustration on carpets, couches and other furniture pieces. It may even make the feline attack its pet parent.
Are laser pointers good for your cat?
Every kitten, adult and senior cat out there needs to be entertained and well-exercised. Laser pointers can achieve these two goals. Regardless of the laser’s disadvantages, there are ways to make it work for you and your beloved furball.
As long as you get a pet-safe laser and you don’t fool around with it until the cat goes crazy, it will be an excellent toy. Just remember to finish the games by parking the dot on a toy, treat or something else, which the cat will be capable of really catching instead of just chasing.
You can also opt for giving some tasty treats to your furball and praising it physically and verbally for its “hunting” session. This will help with any lingering anxiety or dissatisfaction.