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Is it OK for Cats to Play With Laser Pointers?

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: October 5, 2016
Is it OK for Cats to Play With Laser Pointers?

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The Internet is full of videos in which cats pursue the light beam of a laser pointer in their attempt to hunt. At first glance it may seem a game like any other, but are there any dangers to your cat's well-being? How appropriate is it for helping your cat to maintain regular exercise?

In this AnimalWised.com article we will give you the details about how healthy playing with a laser pointer is for your cat and what kind of games are most beneficial for our furry feline friends.

You may also be interested in: Why Does my Cat Scratch the Furniture?

Hunting Games

Cats are natural predators just like their larger relatives: lions, panthers or tigers. These animals lurk, pursue and ambush their prey. It is part of their natural behaviour and they enjoy it. For this reason, games related to hunting are a great way to develop their inherent habits in a less gruesome way.

However, in nature, animals get a reinforcement that they will never be able to get with the use of a laser pointer: the pleasure of catching their living prey. For the same reason, if we decide to play with this element we are causing in our pet a deep feeling of frustration as they keep trying to catch something which they never will.

In severe cases we can come to create a compulsive behaviour in the cat as it imagines lights and shadows around the house as prey, thus creating chronic anxiety. To help reduce the chances of this happening, have a treat or object ready for when you want to end the game and lead you cat to it with the laser. This way they will feel like they have successfully captured their prey.

Is it OK for Cats to Play With Laser Pointers? - Hunting Games

Side Effects of Using a Laser

In addition to generating frustration and anxiety in cats, the use of lasers can have other ramifications on their health:

  • Behavioural changes
  • Damage to the retina
  • Domestic accidents

An exuberant cat can cause quite a lot of damage as it jumps and pounces across your home, so you'll need to be careful about any Ming vases you have dotted about. Also, make sure you check the type of laser you get as some may be too strong and cause damage to your cat's eye. Never point the laser directly in their eye as even with a weak one damage can occur,.

How Should We Play with our Cat to Encourage Hunting?

Undoubtedly the most recommended toy to develop the hunting instinct in your cat is the use of stick with a duster. Unlike other toys like balls, ropes or mice, the game has much more durability and is far more entertaining.

It is a great way to get your cat moving, to motivate the animal to play and most importantly: there is something for your cat to catch!

Is it OK for Cats to Play With Laser Pointers? - How Should We Play with our Cat to Encourage Hunting?

Different Toys for Cats

If you like playing with your cat, feel free to visit our post on cat toys where you can find up to 7 different types that your kitty might love - even more than playing with a laser pointer.

Among the most recommended are balls, Kongs for cats and other intellectual games. This type of toy stimulates your cat's mind and helps you spend more time entertaining them.

However, remember that each cat is different and it is up to them to decide what type of fun they prefer.

Is it OK for Cats to Play With Laser Pointers? - Different Toys for Cats

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