Cats and laser toys. It's a tale as old as time. We could watch our small predators chasing the red dot forever. The animal has a blast and so do its human spectators. But what attracts cats to laser pointers? And more importantly, are they safe?
Why do cats like lasers?
According to animal behavioral specialists, a typical cat will engage in at least eight to ten ‘hunting expeditions’ a day. It goes the same for indoor cats who have no need to hunt. That’s why house cats can go crazy about laser pointer toys.
What are the pros of laser pointers for cats?
As well as laser toys providing amusement for both you and your cat, there are several other practical advantages to it:
Great physical exercise: Some cat breeds are very prone to obesity and this is no surprise seeing as indoor cats don't lead as stimulating a life as their wild counterparts. However, chasing a red dot around is a real workout for your cat and makes a change from their everyday routine.
Good mental stimulation: Cats were domesticated more than 5,000 years ago, but for a long time they were used for catching mice, so their lives have never been as lazy as they are now. If your cat stays home most the day, it can become very easy for them to get bored. A laser pointer is a great way to stop this from happening.
Another way to play: As well as the above points, playing with a laser is also great at teaching kittens boundaries and social skills. Kittens learn coordination, hunting skills and also build muscles. For adult cats, play allows the ability to hone their prey instincts.
Easy way to play: After a full day at work, it can be very hard to muster up the energy to play with your cat. The laser point doesn't require any exertion on your behalf, simply some movement from your hand.
A stronger bond: When used correctly, laser pointers for cats can be a good way to bond with your pet through playing and fulfilling your cat's natural drive to stalk prey.
What are the cons of laser pointers for cats?
As with most things in life, the laser point doesn't come without its cons. Here are the following:
No satisfaction. As we said before, cats are predators. They need to hunt and to get their reward. Laser beams can never be tracked down and it’s pretty frustrating. In nature, felines don’t catch their prey at every attempt, but eventually they do.
Destructive behavior. Chasing a red dot continuously without any result may make your cat anxious. This can end up in torn carpets or furniture, dropped vases and even some scratches or bites on your hands. However, there’s an easy way to prevent such a reaction. Make sure that you end every game pointing the laser to some physical object that can actually be ‘caught’ – like a toy or hidden treats, so your small hunter can win their victory.
Safety tips for laser games
It should go without saying but don't ever point the laser beam directly into your cat's eyes. Most lasers used in laser pointers are safe for both human and pet eyes even in the odd case of direct contact.
You know the expression less is more? This is very applicable to laser pointers. While it's good to keep your cat active both physically and mentally, it is just as important to not over-stimulate them. Always have a variety of toys for them to play with and remember that in some ways you are your cat's best toy. The best way to strengthen your bond with your kitty is by playing with them directly after all.