Cats go crazy every time their human masters use laser pointers to play with them. We have yet to meet a kitty whose curiosity was not aroused and its predatory instincts not awakened by that small red dot which can mimic a really agile prey. And if you’re like most pet parents who would want to give their kitties the much-needed workout instead of just lazing in its cat bed, then you should also start looking for the best laser pointer for your tabby. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with our list of the 7 best laser pointers for cats.
Best Laser Pointers for Cats Buying Guide
While the cat-loving community is actually divided whether or not laser pointers can truly be beneficial for cats, one cannot argue the fact that kitties love chasing and pouncing on the red dot emitted by these nifty gadgets. But you have to be careful since not all laser pointers are safe for your kitty. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Well, read on so you’ll be more empowered on how to choose the right laser pointer for your pet cat.
Why Do Cats Like Laser Pointers So Much?
Cats don’t really like laser pointers per se; they only ‘look’ like they love the light emitted by the gadget because it stimulates their very instinct – that of being a predator. In the wild, cats have to be very vigilant. Even large cats like lions, tigers, and cougars have to be very cautious and very observant of their surroundings because they can also be the prey at any given moment.
If you try to look at how your cat behaves while it is playing with the laser light, it assumes the characteristic predator stance – eyes focused on the target, front body slightly lower than the back, and its hind legs slightly bent ready to spring into action. It doesn’t try to ‘catch’ the light immediately. In its brain, it is trying to make highly-accurate calculations as to the pattern of the ‘prey’ and where it will move next. Assuming you don’t create a very predictable pattern in your laser light movements, your cat will glue its sights on the moving red dot. Move the light slowly or in a very predictable pattern and your cat will readily ‘pounce’ on the red dot.
You see, cats don’t love the red dot. Their natural predatory instincts are simply stimulated so they will try to ‘catch’ the prey by calculating where it will be next.
The Importance of Playing with Cats
Cats, like all pets, require plenty of play time for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the more important ones.
- Allows cats to nurture their predatory instincts
This is perhaps the most important reason why you need to play with your pet cat. Kitties, regardless of size, have very strong predatory instincts. Anything that moves is typically interpreted by their brains as prey. It is their raison’d’etat, their true essence for being cats. If you don’t nurture their predatory instincts, you’re not contributing to their development as felines.
- Gives cats the opportunity to exercise
Cats, like dogs and other pets, don’t need a very strict exercise regimen. As long as they can run, jump, stretch, and move their limbs in different positions, you are actually giving them the opportunity to exercise. This will help lead to healthier tabbies, lower the risk of obesity and its associated complications, and improve your cat’s overall quality of life.
- Relieves feline boredom
Play time is physically and mentally stimulating for your cat. Being able to act out their predatory instincts require focus and concentration. While it is not readily apparent, your kitty will be very busy trying to ‘pounce’ on its prey. The mere fact that it is using its brain to try to ‘catch’ its prey means it is not getting bored.
- Promotes pet parent-cat bonding
Playing with your pet shows that you care for it. While cats are not really that very social compared to dogs, they do appreciate the time you spend playing with them. Your relationship with your pet is nurtured and strengthened, allowing for healthier and better-rounded kitty.
How to Use a Cat Laser Toy the Right Way
Like all pet toys, laser pointers have to be used in the right way so that we don’t bring harm to our kitties. When we say harm, we don’t necessarily mean physical injuries. As you will see later on in this article, there are certain issues that we have to address whenever we play with our cats using a laser pointer. What should suffice at this point is that we know how to use a cat laser toy the right way. Here are some tips.
- The laser pointer should not be your cat’s one and only toy. It should never be used more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time, otherwise you risk forming behavioral problems in your kitty (more on that later). Make sure that you also have other cat toys with you.
- Scatter other toys in your play area. You can even whip up some treat in one area. Point the laser light on a toy or even on the kitty treat and let the red dot stay there until your kitty ‘pounces’ on the red dot and ‘grabs’ the toy or the food instead. This helps complete the ‘hunt’ where your kitty was able to pounce on the ‘prey’.
- Make sure to never point the laser light directly into your kitty’s eyes. While the laser light may not bring damage to the eyes if you accidentally shine in on your cat’s eyes for a split second, prolonging the exposure can bring some serious damage.
Can a Laser Pointer Harm My Kitty’s Eyes?
We mentioned above that laser light, if shone very briefly (split-second) into the eye of your cat will not bring any serious damage to its eyes. However, you have to understand that not all products are created to adhere to the safety specifications for laser pointers. Typically, safe laser pointers should have a power output of between 1 and 5 milliwatts (mW). The lower the number the safer it should be. Lasers generate heat and can seriously damage tissues especially the sensitive rods and cones of the eyes. If the product produces more than 5 mW, then even a split-second exposure can injure your cat’s eyes. That is why it is important to choose only those products that clearly specify their power output or are at least labeled as pet-safe.
Are Laser Pointers Bad for Cats?
Laser pointers do not only have the potential to cause injuries to your cat’s eyes. It also has the potential to cause a variety of behavioral problems.
Think of it this way. You are being given a very rare opportunity to ‘win’ something or to be ‘rewarded’ with something. But no matter how hard you try, regardless of how precise you are in your plans, you simply cannot get the ‘prize’ even if it seems you already got it. How will you feel? What will you do?
Most folks will feel very frustrated, like they are being cheated. They will vent their frustrations on something else. They can get very violent or perhaps even go into severe depression. The point is that because the action did not result into any form of tangible ‘reward’, behavioral or even psychological problems can arise.
This is what happens to your cat. True, it may be having a fun time trying to catch the light. But even if it already manages to ‘pounce’ on the red dot, it still is not able to ‘grab hold’ of the ‘prey’. In other words, your cat is hunting for prey that it can never catch. Do you know how frustrating this is?
As such, your cat has the tendency to display behavioral problems. It can start scratching on your furniture, carpet, bedding, and even toys. It can tear apart other things just so it can release all that frustration inside it. This is why experts caution the use of laser pointers; not so much because of the dangers to the eyes but rather the risks involved in the psychology and behavior of your cat.
This is also the reason why one of the best methods for using a laser pointer is to shine it on your cat’s favorite toy so that when your kitty pounces on the red dot it is able to ‘grab’ and hold onto the ‘prey’. This is its reward for hunting. And this is the key to making laser light play with cats safer and truly more beneficial.
Laser pointers are great toys for cats. Just make sure you know how to use it properly so you can avoid injuring your pet’s eyes and developing behavioral problems in your cat. With these 7 best laser pointers for cats plus the guide we made for you, we’re hopeful you can make the right decision to purchase only the best and the safest for your kitty.