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Why Can’t my Cat, Dog See the Laser Pointer?

In an attempt to keep your pets occupied, you might end up trying different ways to stimulate and engage them.

As a dog owner or cat owner, you may have had your pet chase a laser pointer.

While you may have seen your cat frantically chase the laser pointer from the wall to the floor, you may not have had much success trying it with your dog.

This is what probably brought you here, as you wonder, ‘can my dog even see laser pointers?’ and if not, ‘why can’t my dog see laser pointers?’

This guide is here to help you through everything you need to know about pets and laser pointers as toys for play and mental stimulation.

Why Can’t My Dog See Laser Pointers?

Since laser pointers are often used as play toys for pets, there is a discrepancy between pet owners regarding their efficacy.

Some dogs enthusiastically chase laser pointers, while others just seem disinterested. This can raise the pertinent question: can dogs even see laser pointers?

Signs Your Dog Can See the Laser Pointer 

a brown dog with his owner

Over time, a lot of research has been conducted about whether dogs can actually see the light from a laser pointer. So to answer the question ‘why can’t my dog see laser pointers?’, studies show that dogs are not able to see the red light, but they can sense and chase the movement and motion, which triggers their predatory instincts.

Here are some signs that show your dog can see or sense the laser pointer:

  • Tail wagging
  • Barking at the laser pointer
  • Jumping at the sight of the laser pointer 
  • Chasing it 
  • Tilting head out of curiosity 

Laser Pointers and Dogs’ Prey Drive

2 dogs playing in the park

A laser pointer alludes to a dog’s prey drive, which means they want to chase it. They adopt the role of the predator, seeing the laser pointer as their prey. However,  some dogs don’t react to laser pointers in the same way, but this doesn’t mean they are unable to see or sense the presence of laser pointers. It simply means they have a low prey drive.

Playing with laser pointers can be a double-edged sword for dogs. While some argue that it allows them to indulge their instinct, a large portion of research shows the detrimental effect of laser pointers for dogs, as discussed below. 

Destructive Behavior 

A dog cannot ‘catch’ its prey, which means it will get no closure in this game. This can aggravate anxiety, frustration and following behavioral problems in some dogs. Dogs can start destroying furniture and upholstery during this agitated state of mind, which can be problematic. Moreover, your dog may also feel restless about being unable to catch its prey, exhibiting an inability to fall asleep, concentrate on another activity or, in some circumstances, listen to the owner’s command.

Why Does My Cat Not See the Laser Pointer?

a red laser dot in front of the cat

While there is a debate about whether cats can see laser pointers, there is distinct evidence that most cats love laser pointers. Since cats have predatory instincts, they love to chase and hunt their prey. So you may see your cat darting for the moving red light. 

While our cat’s eye works differently than ours, it is safe to say cats probably don’t perceive the light from a laser pointer in the same way that we do. Your feline creature may chase and pounce on the red light, but this can’t be cited to the color. This is because cats’ eyes aren’t sensitive to the color red, so they probably just see a moving dot of light, regardless of the color. But that is enough to appeal to the cat’s hunting instinct.

So if you’re wondering why your cat doesn’t see a laser pointer, it’s because they aren’t sensitive to color or light, but to the movement, which is the main attraction for them.

Benefits of Laser Pointers for Cats

While there is some serious concern regarding using laser pointers for dogs, experts think cats can benefit from it in different ways. 

Physical Exercise 

While dogs can be taken out for walks, cats don’t fully receive their physical exercise. Cats mostly stay indoors and may become obese due to lack of movement. Cats are natural predators and will inevitably chase laser pointers, helping even the most sedentary cats exercise.

Mental Stimulation

a cat plays with laser dot

Cats that do not receive any mental stimulation get bored and may start to exhibit troublesome behavior. They might start scratching sofas and tables, and some bored cats even defecate around the house. This is why they need to be engaged in some productive play or activity like chasing laser pointers.

Express Their Natural Instinct

Before cats were domesticated, they used to hunt and catch their prey. This natural instinct exists in cats even today, whether they are feral cats or domesticated cats. One way to keep your cat healthy and happy is by allowing them to express this behavior through chasing laser pointers. This will also prevent them from killing mice or lizards and creating a mess around the house. 

Adverse Effects of Laser Points for Cats

However, laser pointers can also aggravate agitation in cats like they do in dogs. In a desperate attempt to catch the perceived prey, the cat might run into a wall or table and hurt itself. They can also knock something over amidst this play and create problems for the owner.

Can a Laser Pointer Blind My Cat, Dog?

a visual-impaired cat

The American Academy Of Ophthalmology states that a laser’s light may burn the retina. However, there are a few factors that should be taken into consideration:

  • The amount of direct exposure
  • The Light’s wattage 

The higher the direct exposure and the higher the light’s wattage, the more dangerous the laser pointer can be for the pets’ eyes. So to answer the concerning question, yes, laser pointers have the potential to blind your dog or cat. 

Safety Precautions for Using Laser Pointers

TECHDON Laser Pointer for Cats and Dogs
Click image for more info

Safe use of laser pointers can be quite fun and useful. However, in order to do so, you need to keep certain precautions in mind and ensure that only a responsible adult is handling the laser. 

  • Don’t shine the laser pointer light directly in your pet’s eyes
  • Use a laser pointer of lower wattage, no more than 5 milliwatts
  • Do not leave minors alone with a laser
  • Store the laser pointer somewhere your pet can’t reach

Final Word 

When used correctly, laser pointers can serve as the perfect stimulant for cats. Since dogs can indulge in outdoor play and go on walks, these prove better alternatives for them than laser pointers. However, since cats have the natural instinct to chase and hunt, laser pointers can be a viable play tool. However, even when using laser pointers, exercise caution to avoid causing any harmful side effects to your pet.

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