Laser pointers and cats are always fun. 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 are they safe?

Cat plays with Laser Pointer

Why do cats like lasers?

According to animal behavioral specialists, a typical cat will engage in at least 8 to 10 ‘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. But there’s one question that spoils the party: Are laser pointers bad for cats?

Can a laser pointer harm my kitty’s eyes?

One of the major concerns surrounding laser pointers and cats comes from the laser itself. Can shining laser beams cause permanent eye damage in your cat? Of course, you don’t want to point the laser beam directly into your cat’s eyes, but don’t worry if you accidentally do. Cat laser pointers and automatic laser cat toys typically feature lasers in the range of 1 to 5 milliwatts that are safe for human and animal eyes. Not all laser pointers are up to code, however, so look for models with labels indicating that they're safe for pets.

GoPro video "Cats vs. Laser":

Pros and cons of laser pointers for cats

It goes without saying that laser games with pets are amusing. Moreover, there are several practical advantages of entertaining your cat with a laser beam, but there are also some serious restrictions. Let’s take a look on pros and cons of using laser pointers for cats.

Pros

  • Outstanding physical exercise. Let’s face it: a home cat’s life is rather monotonous. While wild felines get to climb trees, sneak across the ground, hide in the grass, track their lunch and hunt it down, home kitties spend most of their day looking for the best place to sleep (and eventually it turns out to be your keyboard).This kind of a lifestyle makes cats bored and unfit, in some cases, even obese. Cats may become too lazy to play with their old style physical toys, but they almost never say no to the red dot. So it’s fun and it’s a real workout!
  • Great 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 alone most of the day, cat laser pointers can provide key stimulation and keep them from becoming overly bored.
  • Another way to play. Play is important for felines. It teaches 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.
  • 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.
  • Easy way to play. Some cat people manage to entertain their pets with different games, but when you come home tired after a busy day, throwing and jolting various toys around may not sound like a very exciting activity. Furthermore, who’s gonna play with your pet when you are not at home? Here is when the cat laser pointer comes in: you can easily move it while resting on your sofa or go for a high-tech solution and get your Petcube Play camera to play laser games with your pet using your smartphone even from afar.

Cons

  • 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 kitty 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 (not your roommate’s feet!), so your small hunter can win their victory.

cats and laser pointer

Safety tips for laser games

  • Don’t point the laser beam directly at your cat’s eyes. Petcube’s laser (same as used in most laser pointers) is safe for both human and pet eyes even in case of the occasional direct contact. However, it is strongly recommended to avoid looking straight at the laser for an extended period of time.
  • Keep in mind that every game session should be limited and make sure to not overstimulate your cat.
  • Don’t forget to entertain your kitty with various physical toys, cat playgrounds and treats apart from the laser.
  • Remember that there’s no toy that would replace you to your cat. Make sure to spend some quality time with your pet every day.

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