Cat owners searching for ways to stimulate their indoor cats or just those looking to give their kitty a new way to play often ask this question, "Are laser pointers for cats good or bad?".
If you're worried that a laser pointer is bad for cats you should be reassured by the fact that cats are less likely to develop behavioral issues than dogs when it comes to laser pointers. In addition, most vets take the view that a cat laser pointer is generally good for the health and wellbeing of your cat.
Veterinary Doctor, Claudia Sims says, "You can lead your cat to a treat with the laser pointer so there is a reward for their efforts. When you turn off the light the cat will resume its normal activity quickly."
So, what do you need to think about when using a cat laser toy to ensure it's a good experience for your kitty (and you!)?
Are Laser Pointers Bad for Cats?
Overall, a cat laser pointer is generally good to use with your cat as long as you use it safely and don't overwork your cat. You should never point a laser directly at your cat';s eyes and should allow your cat to 'catch' the laser now and then as well as making sure to give them a break to catch their breath.
If you are looking for fun ways to provide exercise for your indoor cats, then a cat laser toy is a great cat toy to have on hand. Cats require daily exercise to thrive, especially those cats that live indoors all the time. Giving them a run around chasing a laser dot is something most cats will respond to. But, as you know, cats are finicky and most toys become old news quickly!
The laser pointer can be a great addition to playtime for your cat, but there are some things we need to consider first. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of cat laser pointers, a few different product features, and solutions to make sure our cats are safe and happy during playtime.
Cat Laser Pointer : Pros and Cons
Cats require exercise and mental stimulation to thrive indoors. Proper enrichment prevents boredom and unnecessary weight gain. We can provide enrichment with engaging toys and safe playtime.
Toys that mimic prey behavior are the most fun for cats because cats are natural-born hunters. Even domesticated indoor cats are hunters.
There's no doubt that cats love chasing a laser dot. The laser pointer can be a fun toy that keeps our cats active. But, lasers can also be dangerous and cause stress in cats. We need to look at the pros and cons of this toy to make sure that we play with our cats safely.
Always monitor your cat's behavior. Every cat is different and has different needs.
Cat Laser Pointer - The Pros
Cat Laser Pointer - The Cons
Can a Laser Pointer Harm a Cat's Eyes?
Laser pointers can harm a cat's eyes, so always play with caution. Never shine the laser directly into the cat's face, and be wary of reflected light as well. Cat's eyes are more sensitive than human’s eyes, but laser pointers can be harmful to both of us. Keep a safe distance when you play, and take short breaks during playtime.
Laser pointer beams affect humans and cats differently. A cat’s eye can let in three times the light of a human eye. Cat’s eyes have a reflective layer behind the retina that allows light to bounce back to the rods and cones.
This is what helps cats see better at night. So, cats may be more susceptible to laser pointer injury because of the reflective layer in their eyes. We should also consider the power of the laser beam. Most countries establish a 1 milliwatt (mW) power limit of handheld laser pointers.
That limit is 5 mW in the US. Always research the product features before making a purchase. Some handheld laser pointers may be mislabeled.
What Attracts Cats to Lasers?
As discussed above, cats are natural-born hunters. These wild instincts are ingrained. Cats are attracted to lasers because the small dot of light and unpredictable movement mimics prey behavior. Prey dart around quickly and this is attractive to cats. We can recreate the hunt, stalk, and pounce instincts when we play with laser pointers.
Cats may not see color well, but they can detect movement easily because their eyes are different than ours. Cat's eyes have more rods than human eyes. These rods are responsible for the detection of movement, and they help cats see quickly moving prey in poor lighting conditions. Cats tend to hunt when their prey is active at dawn and dusk.
The color of the laser doesn't matter much because cats don't see color as well as we do. Cats have fewer cones in their eyes than we do. Cones are responsible for seeing color and fine detail. Cats notice the laser dot because it is brighter, contrasts with the floor or wall, and moves quickly.
You can apply this concept to any cat toy. Mimic prey behavior and your cat will be happy.
Using a Laser For Cats - Safety Tips
The 5 Best Cat Laser Toy
1. Yvelife Cat Laser Toy Automatic (Best Automatic Pointer)
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This automatic laser pointer toy for cats might be a good choice for pet parents that work long hours.
Yvelife's automatic toy has a function that activates the laser pointer for 15 minutes every three hours.
This toy features five adjustable circling ranges, and you can use a fast or slow mode, depending on your cat's preference. It is rechargeable, and you can use batteries or plug it in.
A few customers mentioned that the cord is short so place this toy out of your cat's reach.
2. FYNIGO Cat Interactive Toys Wand
FYNIGO makes an interesting laser pointer that has four different light display patterns in addition to the conventional red dot. This laser wand also comes with a physical toy mouse.
You can recharge by plugging it directly into a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port like your laptop. There is a slide on and off button rather than holding the button down with your finger.
This laser wand comes with an emergency flashlight setting and a UV light to detect pet stains.
3. SereneLife Automatic Cat Laser Toy
This automatic laser toy might be useful for pet parents that need to keep cats busy while they cook or clean.
It features adjustable speed settings and an unpredictable path.
You can position the laser to shine on the floor or the wall. You need batteries, but they are not included.
This laser toy does not turn on automatically, but it will shut off automatically after 30 minutes to conserve battery power.
4. TECHDON 2 Pack Multiple Pattern Pet Command Light
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The Techdon laser pointers come in a two-pack. This may be a good choice for multi-cat households.
It features the classic red dot, a mini flashlight, and a UV light.
You can charge these laser pointers using a USB port instead of a cord. This product also has a slide on and off button.
These handheld laser pointers don't have timers on them so you will have to play with them manually.
5. PetMuscle Best Automatic Pet Laser Toy
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This cat laser pointer toy might be a good choice for cats that need more advanced play.
It features an automatic 360° rotating laser head with four speed settings and four rotation angles.
You can display the pointer on the floor or wall and set a timer for 5, 10, 15, and 20 minutes. It is battery operated, and batteries are not included.
A few customers mention it is cheaply made and has inconsistent quality from unit to unit.
Laser Pointers for Cats - Final Thoughts
Cats need daily exercise and mental stimulation to live a happy life indoors. Laser pointers for cats encourage them to play because the movements of the laser dot are unpredictable and simulate the hunting experience. Only use lasers that emit less than 1 kW of power, and avoid shining the laser at the cat's body.
A cat laser pointer is generally safe for playing with cats when used properly. Be sure to reward your cat with a physical toy or treat after playtime, and monitor your cat's behavior for signs of stress.
And, if you want to watch how much fun your cat can have with a laser pointer then GoPro made this great video:
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