Most of the concern surrounding laser pointers and cats stems from the laser itself. Is it dangerous for their eyes? Of course, you don’t want to point the beam directly into your cat’s eyes on purpose, but no – that really isn’t the big problem with laser pointers. The real danger is the feeling of frustration a game of laser tag leaves with your cat.
When your kitty sees that little wiggly ball of light from a laser pointer, nothing matters to him more than catching it. Unfortunately, the problem is there’s nothing there to ‘catch’, since it’s just an ungraspable bundle of light. And, it turns out, the lack of closure your cat experiences from endlessly trying to catch it may actually be screwing with his head.
Cats instinctively chase those bright red laser dots simply because they’re moving; stimulating their natural prey drive. The laser beam’s incessant moving taps into this prey drive and the cat can’t help himself – he has to chase it.
But, according to well-known veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker:
“The potential problem with these toys comes because the cat can never “win” the game. Even if a cat catches the dot there’s nothing there. The cat gets all worked up with no resolution — every time. Even in the wild, a hunting cat will catch the prey now and then. But there’s no catching that alluring, fast-moving red dot!”
If your cat loves to chase, Dr. Becker recommends using more tangible toys that he can actually catch, as some cats will redirect their frustration in ways that may hurt them or you.
However, if you can’t find a toy that gets your feline friend as excited as the laser, another solution we really love is to hide treats around the room and occasionally land the laser light on the treat to surprise your kitty. Problem solved!