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Can you Blind a Cat with a Laser Pointer?

If you shine your laser pointer directly into your cat’s eye, there is a good chance that you will end up harming their vision – or even damage their eyes permanently. Even from a toy laser beam, the intense beam can get amplified in cats’ eyes and cause permanent burns in their retina, blinding them forever. 

Here are details about the effects of a laser pointer on a cat. 

Can you Blind a Cat with a Laser Pointer?

A cat watching a laser point

Almost every cat guardian out there understands the joy of using laser pointers to play with cats. They try to chase the bright red dot across the room, jump over objects, and get confused when they can’t catch it, which makes for an amusing sight. 

Unfortunately, minimal precautions are taken during the ‘game.’ As long as you let your cat chase the red dot, it is fine. However, you can blind your cat with a laser pointer if you point it directly into their eyes. Owners usually do that to tease their pets. 

All it takes for the damage to become irreparable is a blink of an eye!

Have you ever experienced flash blindness because of a strong light source being right in your eye? That feeling that the light source has been permanently imprinted in your eyes? Camera flash or looking directly at the sun are two examples of this. 

Something similar happens when a laser pointer is pointed at your pet’s eyes. It overwhelms the cone and rod cells in your retina, killing the cells where the intense light fell. According to the Humane Society (US), instead of pointing the laser at their eyes, you should give your pet a treat or a physical toy to destroy.

This is because it gives them a sense of finality and accomplishment; otherwise, they would become anxious or paranoid after playing with the pointer. You may find your cat slink around the house or attack random dots, even if they aren’t red. This effect can usually last for hours as they try to find out where the dot went. 

Are Laser Pointers Safe for Cats?

A woman showing a cat a laser point

Shining your cat laser pointer directly into your cat’s eyes is never a good idea, even if you think that the laser won’t reach them. Cats are colorblind, but they do see things sharper and further than we do. This helps them find prey easily, and that red, shiny dot is that for them. 

Furthermore, they have six to eight times more rod cells in their eyes, meaning they take more light in than we do. This is particularly true for night-time or dark areas, i.e., when chasing that red dot is even more fun for them. 

Unfortunately, this increased sensitivity also means that even the lower-powered lasers can seem pretty powerful to them if it hits directly into their eyes. You can blind a cat with a laser pointer this way pretty easily. 

If you have ever done this, you may have noticed your cat will run away from you immediately and/or start rubbing its nose with its paws. This is the cat’s way of telling you that its eyes are hurting. Of course, it can’t rub its eyes as a human can. 

You might point the laser towards your cat accidentally while moving it or at an angle. Know that commercial, low-powered laser pointers usually don’t pose much of a threat. These lasers pass from view quickly and may not:

  • Be intense enough
  • Hit the retina at a damaging angle
  • Have enough time to damage anything 

Can You Blind a Cat With Any Laser Pointer?

Laser pointers and cats

The most common types of cat lasers include red and green lasers, both of which are equally fun. Yes, you can see the green laser as well, but it may not be able to make out the distinct color itself. Since cats are color blind, they can’t discern the difference between the green dot or the red dot, but they will notice that the dots are particularly shiny. 

If you use a green or red laser, your cat will randomly focus on both instead of going for a ‘favorite color.’ However, if the red one is more powerful, your cat will likely try to catch that laser first. 

Green laser pointers are potentially safe for cats, but they also present the same risks as red ones, depending on their power and how long you expose the eye to the laser. Green lasers usually need to be more powerful than red to achieve the same level of intensity and/or luminosity. If you have a green and red laser that makes a similarly bright dot, the green one will need more power. 

If you want a safer laser for your cat to play with, you should consider buying a 1mW green laser. You may feel like its range is lacking, but it will be much safer than its red alternative. This is primarily because red has a longer wavelength than green, and it travels further without losing that much energy. 

Can A Cat Laser Pointer Blind You?

Can laser pointers cause blindness

Pocket lasers usually aren’t that intense and cannot lead to eye or skin damage as easily, but it is possible nonetheless. Even if the laser pointer packaging suggests that the pointer is safe, you must remain vigilant. 

Because of the risks involved with cat laser pointers, many believe that it is cruel to subject your cat to such a dangerous situation, while others believe it is just a bit of harmless fun. However, reality stands somewhere in the middle. Cat laser pointers can blind you and your pet, but only if you misuse them. Some cats can also get obsessive about finding the pointer, which can lead to paranoia after the pointer is turned off. 

At the same time, laser pointers are a great way to give your cat the exercise it needs. When you are too tired, or it is raining, or simply if you find yourself in another lockdown situation, you can keep your feline friend busy just by waving your hand!

So long as you can handle the laser pointer properly and keep it out of your own and your pet’s eyes, you can get hours of endless entertainment without running the risk of blinding your cat with a laser pointer!

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