Are Laser Pointers Bad for Cats?

We all know how entertaining it can be to watch a cat chasing down a laser beam. Cats seem to really enjoy the activity as well.

But have you ever wondered if it might be bad for your cat?

In this article, we’re going to answer as many questions as we can about cats and laser pointers.

We’ll also give you some pros and cons so you can better decide if you will add this activity to your daily routine with your cat.

Why Do Cats Chase Lasers?

By nature, cats are animals of prey. They are related to the big cats of the wild and they possess the same hunting skills.

Cats have been domesticated animals since the early days, but they were kept inside homes specifically to hunt down mice. It has only been in recent years that cats are being kept as pets solely to keep humans company.

Although cats today do not have much to do in the house anymore, they still possess that hunting instinct.

It is the same instinct that moves them to chase down any small moving object, including laser pointers.

Your cat will keep chasing the laser pointer until you turn it off. This is because it’s in their nature to not give up until the prey is caught or gets away.

What Do Cats See When They See Laser Pointers?

Cats are not completely colorblind like many people think they are. Cats can see certain colors, but their eyes are not as good as human eyes at detecting colors.

Your cat may not be able to differentiate the colors of a red laser beam from a green one, but they can just as clearly see both.

They may not be able to comprehend what exactly the laser beam is, but they don’t really need to.

They can see a fast-moving object, and it’s in their instinct to catch whatever it is.

cat plays with laser pointer

Do Laser Pointers Stress Out Cats?

You might wonder if letting your cat chase a laser pointer that it can never catch can stress out your cat.

During the chase, your cat usually enjoys the activity just as much as the spectators do. It is when the activity ends and your cat isn’t rewarded that it can be frustrating for your cat.

Remember that your cat’s goal when hunting is to catch the prey. They might accept defeat a couple of times, but if they are never able to catch anything, they could develop a mild case of anxiety.

One way you can reward your cat after chasing a laser pointer is to point the laser at a hidden treat just before you turn it off. This can also be a toy or any other object your cat can hold on to after the chase.

Grabbing the treat or toy after the chase will make your cat feel accomplished. This will eliminate the risk of developing anxiety and frustration in your cat.

What Are the Best Uses of Laser Pointers for Your Cat?

The best use of laser pointers for your cat is exercise and recreation.

House cats today are becoming lazier and lazier. Their daily activities are usually just eating and finding the best place to sleep.

This is why there are a lot of unhealthy and even obese cats. Some cats can also suffer from boredom when there is little to no activity in the house. Exercising, or playing with your cat after a long day’s work can be very tiresome.

With laser pointers, you can give your cat a good exercise while you sit comfortably on your couch. At the same time, you will be entertaining your cat and yourself.

What is the Best Type of Laser Pointer for My Cat?

Not all laser pointers are created equally, and some might be dangerous for your cat. It is a good idea to know the dangers of laser pointers first before purchasing one or using one for your cat.

Standard laser pointers use a powerful and very narrow beam of light. If this beam of light hits your eyes or your cat’s eyes, it could cause serious damage.

A laser pointer less than 5 milliwatt is safer on the eyes. When purchasing a laser pointer for your cat, make sure it is class 3 or less.

You can check out these laser toys that are great for your cats.

Even with a laser pointer with a 1-5 milliwatt rating, you are not completely safe from an eye injury. Pointing a laser at your cat’s eyes should always be avoided, regardless of the type of laser you have.

Laser Pointers for Cats: The Pros and Cons

Let us now briefly go over all the pros and cons of using laser pointers for your cat’s exercise and recreation.

Pros:

Great physical exercise: chasing a laser beam across the living room, over couches and chairs, will no doubt be a great workout for your cat.

It’s hard to get your cat to exercise that much using other toys or exercise methods.

Mental stimulation: Cats were not meant to sit around in the house all day. They are hunting creatures and need some sort of activity to keep them from becoming bored.

Chasing around a laser beam will provide them with enough mental stimulation to keep them from becoming overly bored.

Convenient for the pet owner: We know how tiresome it can be to come home from work and have to stay up and play with our pets. With laser pointers, you can give your cat a really good workout while you’re laying on the couch.

This can even double as a stress reliever for you. Just watching your cat run around the house chasing a laser beam can really boost your mood.

Cons:

Frustration: As we mentioned earlier, a cat’s goal will be to eventually catch its prey. With a laser pointer, you will have to come up with a way to reward your cat after the chase.

If you forget to reward your cat, or you do it the wrong way, your cat may become frustrated and develop anxiety.

A messy house: Because of the intense physical activity from chasing the laser beam, you might end up with a few tipped over vases and a scratched up couch.

Although you can control the direction of the laser pointer, your cat will most likely put all its energy into catching the beam and end up making a bit of a mess.

Conclusion

For your cat’s exercise or recreation, laser pointers are one of the most effective and convenient ways to go.

Just remember to keep the beam away from your cat’s eyes. Also, keep in mind that your cat will need to be rewarded for the chase.


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