Laser Pointers for Cats, Good or Bad?
Why do cats like laser pointers?
Laser pointers are basically brightly coloured red dots of light that are capable of moving at different speeds and change direction quickly. Since cats are natural hunters, those moving red dots can satisfy their hunting instincts. They’re also a good source of fun (for the cat and their owner) and for the indoor cat can use up energy and give much needed exercise.
But are they a good thing?
Research has shown that it is possible for cats to develop behaviour issues around this little dot – they become frustrated when they can’t catch the dot and the result of this is aggressive behaviour such as biting.
Cat behaviour consultant Marilyn Krieger says “I adamantly believe that laser pointers need to be left at the office and not transformed into cat toys. In addition to the potential eye damage from shining the beams in cats’ eyes, laser pointers, as you have observed, are frustrating for cats. Cats never can have the satisfaction of catching the elusive dancing dot.”
That being said it is still possible to consider this a good toy for your cat as long as you are aware of the issues and follow these guidelines.
1. Never let the laser pointer become your cat’s only toy. It’s good to have a range of toys, such as stuffed animal toys or wand toys, things that your cat can grab, bite and put his claws into.
2. Always have another toy to hand during laser playtime, maybe even one that is stuffed with food. This can act as a reward for all their hard work in chasing prey that isn’t actually there.
3. Remember never to shine it directly into the cats eyes. Laser pointers that are sold for cat-toy purposes are supposed to be safe for your cat and his eyes, but it’s never comfortable to have a light shining directly in the eyes, this applies to cats just as much as it does to us humans.
4. Occasionally let the laser rest on one of the other toys and in this way the cat is able to “capture” it and it acts as a reward.
All in all, the laser pointer has the possibility of being a great toy to entertain your cat with and to get him to exercise, as long as you think about the safety of your cat and watch out for unexpected behaviour. So, when used properly I am sure you and your cat will derive great pleasure from this intriguing but simple toy.
And to show you how much fun cats actually have with a laser pointer, GoPro cameras made this great video.