Lifestyle with Cat

Why Laser Pointers Could be Bad for your Cat (it’s not what you think!)

laser pointersMost 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!



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  2. Theresa Kessler

    Oct 7, 2016 at 1:43 pm


    • Nancy Negoro

      Feb 27, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Wow that is so Sad…..Sorry for your loss 🙁

    • Bobby Day

      Aug 21, 2019 at 2:36 pm

      lmao da heck. Stupid ass cat

  3. Laser Play All Day

    Dec 24, 2016 at 2:56 am

    I have safely used laser pointers while playing with cats for over 20+ years.
    Yes, it is quickly noticed by any normal adult that cats wish to catch their prey and this is easily solved by alternating the laser chase with a shoe string toy etc.
    Give me a frickin’ break.
    This web page is laughable.
    Have fun playing with your cats.
    (The story above concerning the death of a kitten while play chasing a laser pointer is unfortunate and “rare.” The lesson here is to limit play area to wide open floor spaces.)

  4. Ken

    Mar 13, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Mercy a liberal will make everything Un- enjoyably. I’ve never seen a cat who did not stop playing when the light is turned off . Yes I keep it away from their eyes . I see many cat toys that are more dangerous than a laser. THHE CAT ENJOYS THE CHASE GET A LIFE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

    • Jan

      Mar 18, 2019 at 6:54 pm

      How on earth does someone extrapolate caution about cats and laser lights into being a “liberal” idea? Honestly, not every issue on earth is divisible into liberal or conservative camps! I personally like the strategy of rewarding my cats’ laser-hunting efforts with hidden treats. None of my cats care a whit about lib-con party lines, btw…they have better things to do with their time, like chase laser lights and nap and wreak general havoc.

      • Michael Haneline

        Aug 2, 2019 at 5:01 pm

        I think this idea is ridiculous so obviously the political party I oppose is responsible for it!

        Allergin warning labels? Liberals!


        Pants with zippers to convert into shorts? LIB-RAHHHHHHLS!!!

        • Pat

          Feb 20, 2020 at 1:54 pm

          To be fair, he’s probably right. Modern liberals are no longer liberal, and do tend to suck the life out of all things enjoyable. That said, I’m not going to risk it with my cat. I could be wrong, but something doesn’t feel right about having her chase something she can’t catch.

  5. Terry

    Apr 10, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Well, I am guilty of using the laser light to play with my cat and you do make a good point that they may get frustrated after a while but geez it’s so much fun watching them trying to catch it.

  6. Madalina

    May 3, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Badly researched article. TL;DR version: cats are way smarter than you give them credit, they know it’s just a game and just enjoy the fun!

    How do I know that?
    Personal experience. If I press on the button for the laser toy, wherever they are in the house, my cats will come. If I just play with the laser toy without enabling it, they look at me and then search the light. If the light suddenly disappears, they also look to me. They “catch” it, they see that it’s still there, they keep chasing it.
    So it’s not like they are fooled into chasing what they think is a real animal and then when they catch it they get disappointed. I’ve never seen that. They just treat it like a game, which is what this is.

    • Aaron

      Jul 27, 2019 at 12:00 am

      Over-using a laser with your cat is definitely a bad idea. Cats are not “smart” and do not understand that it is a game and is not real. Using a laser too much can lead your cat to start constantly be on alert and looking for the laser dot. They can start to act freaked out all the time. Use sparingly.

      • Suzanne Hinderliter

        Aug 16, 2019 at 10:13 am

        Did this happen to one of your cats? Because what you said sounds like what my young cat is doing. I read this post & comments because of how my Bundles is acting. She’s started to be leery of every object when she’s not chasing the laser. I’m looking for answers.

      • DON

        Apr 23, 2020 at 11:47 pm

        Do you have a cat? I believe cats are as smart as their “owners” let them be. My cat is smart enough to know when to chase and to let me know when she is done chasing.

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  8. Mike Day

    Aug 21, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    I pop this booty for a real treat

  9. Meg

    May 19, 2020 at 1:48 am

    I like your idea of shining the laser on a treat every now and then so they have something tangible they can catch. Thanks for sharing.

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Just when this dog-eat-dog world has handed you all the poop you can take, it's time to walk the dog. Or wash the dog. Or feed the dog. You get the idea. So welcome to the world of easy-to-care-for cats. Entertainment comes bundled in a furry, huggable, self-cleaning cat who won't beg for your food. In his eyes, you don't eat well enough anyway. Just keep a laser pen handy, sit back and wait for the fun to begin! Cats...ya gotta love 'em.

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