Cat Laser Toys

Suki and the little red dot.

Most cats go crazy by the little red dot from the laser light toy that you can buy in several pet-stores. Your cat will chase it like there is no tomorrow. Lots of fun! But the laser toy also has a bad side…
A laser toy is not a toy your cat can play with like a regular mouse toy. You need to hold it, and you’re responsible for it. You point it in several directions, on the floor, the wall, or whatever you like, and your cat will chase it. It’s that easy!

Safety

Is it safe? In a certain way it is safe. But what could happen if you point or shine it in your cats eyes is that it can cause blindness. Because the laser can damage the retina, and when it is done too often, your cat will go blind. For a human to sustain retinal damage, the study claims, the person would have to willingly look at the laser pointer beam for at least ten seconds. 

Cats might well stare at the laser pointer for a few seconds. Also, there remains some possibility that eye damage occurs in pets at lower levels of exposure. Therefore, many pet owners continue to avoid laser pointer toys despite data indicating that they are relatively safe.

That’s why it is so important to never let a child use a laser toy to play with cats.

A better and (much) safer alternative to laser toys is a regular flashlight with a small, focused beam. In my experience it works just like the laser toy and you don’t have to worry about your cat when you accidentally shine into their eyes.

Behavior

What I notice in with Suki’s behavior when we ended playing with the laser light, is that she will go searching for it, even though we have stopped playing. It doesn’t last very long, most of the time just a few minutes before she will realize the little red dot won’t come back anymore. With some cats it might go worse…

Some cats will become completely obsessed with the little red dot, and they sadly will become stressed out and frustrated when they can’t find the red dot anymore. So the laser toy might not be perfect for every cat. So if you see that your cat becomes obsessed by the laser toy, you might want to stop using it.

Another problem that can occur is that your cat will be disappointed at the end of the ride. It’s a hunt and catch-game, your cat’s drive won’t be satisfied and you’re building up a lot of energy, and in the end your cat won’t catch anything. Your cat might release that build up energy on other things like your legs, the couch, another pet.

“It’s like winding up a jack-in-the-box and expecting the top not to blow off,” says Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy. “If used as the only toy in the cat’s play life, the laser pointer can actually help promote further play aggression, and undo the benefits of play therapy.”

That’s why it’s important to add a real toy at the end of the session. So your cat has caught something, and he hasn’t been chasing that red dot for nothing!

Tips

  • Don’t use a laser stronger than 5 milliwatts when playing with a cat.
  • avoid pointing a laser to a shiny surface, because the reflected beam can also cause eye damage.
  • It is an urban legend that a cat is in danger of breaking its back while playing with a laser. The moves a cat makes during laser play aren’t much different from the moves a cat performs while jumping for a moth or chasing a mouse.
  • It can be frustrating for a cat to hunt too long without catching its prey.
  • Lasers can be a good way of dealing with cats who tend to bully other animals. The laser is a more attractive target, and can be used to distract the cat.
  • To discourage aggression, lasers should never be pointed at humans or other animals.

Resources
consciouscat.net
ehow.com
petlvr.com

I even learned something from this post! What’s your experience with the laser toy?

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17 Responses to “Cat Laser Toys”

    • Dianda

      I can really notice that with Hiro. After a while he’s like “This is stupid, I’m not catching anything” and stops playing.

      Reply
  1. Cody-Cat Chat (@CatChatCaren)

    I also knew about the not pointing it in the cat’s eye and knew about using a normal toy at the end. Another thing my vet warned me about is cats like Cody who often get waaaay too worked up from the laser (as in breathing that is too rapid). He warned me if Cody often exhibited that to not use a laser

    Reply
    • Dianda

      When Suki is excited or angry she ‘huffs and puffs’ through out her nose, very heavily. This happens during play, whether we play with a lasertoy, or with a simple mouse. :o

      Reply
  2. alienredqueen

    Methos does the same thing, searching for the light after we’re done playing. SOmetimes he’ll whine about it and he’ll look for up to an hour. It’s kind of pitiful. LOL

    Reply
  3. Sid Dunnebacke

    Oh, you are brilliant! Point the laser at a capturable thing to end the game! Now I just need to re-battery the pointer to try that. After I, er, find it…

    Reply
  4. Savannah's Paw Tracks

    I did know that my laser is bad for my eyes, and I did know I needed to be allowed to finally “catch” something…I am, after all, a huntress…I think the same must be true for dogs actually…just a thought, Savannah

    Reply

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