Cats are domesticated, true, and they make loving, loyal and highly amusing house companions. However, as we’re sure every feline fanatic is aware, there is something so innately ‘natural’ about them, which no amount of radiator beds, tasty treats or pretty bow collars will eradicate. Cats love to stalk, chase and pounce; nay, they must be allowed to do these things in the interests of their mental and physical wellbeing. Many will satiate their appetite for play-hunting in ‘the wild’ that is the great British outdoors, but what of the indoor-only kitty? By its very nature, the sanctity of the home somewhat lacks (we hope!) small rodents, creepy crawlies and other things that would normally bear the brunt of these instinctive behaviours. Therefore, it falls to purrrsons within the home to simulate such scenarios.

Fortunately, there are many toys on the market these days, specially designed to encourage hunting behaviour, without the blood and guts. Cat ticklers, battery operated mice, bell toys to name a few, but we’re looking at laser pointers in this article. 

Laser pointers emit a very intense beam of light, visible even in bright daylight conditions. 

A tool utilised by many a seasoned giver of presentations to highlight a point of interest, someone, somewhere, clearly discovered another use for them. Cats seemingly find the wee dots of light irresistible when whizzed to and fro across the shag pile, the sofa or even up the walls. But beware! For the same reason that presenters never turn the pointer on their audience, a stray laser flashing across the eye of an unsuspecting feline can prove troublesome. It only takes a second for such a laser to do damage to an eye’s retina. A cat’s eyelid is no match for said laser, even if they manage to blink in time. 

On the plus side, laser pointers can provide fantastic cardio exercise, keeping cats slim, trim and in good health. 

What’s more, the hilarity factor for humans can be through the roof. Consider though, how frustrating it must be to stalk, chase, pounce but never catch. When we use cat ticklers, bell toys, even scrunched up balls of paper flung across the floor, the cat gets to revel in their glory at the end of a good game. There is no tangible prize with a laser pointer. 

The science is yet to be proven, but some researchers believe that unless a cat is able to fulfil the hunting sequence (search, stalk, chase, pounce, catch, manipulate), their mental wellbeing can be negatively impacted. In the meantime, we wonder if as cat owners, we should risk the potential mental turmoil… And there is even some research suggesting that it can lead to abnormal compulsive behaviours.

But there are also other issues to consider…

If despite these words of warning you feel that laser pointers are a safe and sensible option for your cat, just one further word to the wise; send those little beams of joy running up your made-to-measure, damask fabric curtains at your peril. Cats will likely make little work of scaling your soft furnishings in their quest to catch that pesky, illusive dot of light.

Why not heed these safety tips?

  • Choose a lower wattage laser (nothing over 5 milliwatts of power output)
  • Never point the thing at your cat’s (or anyone’s) eyes
  • Store it safely away from pets and children

On one hand, it’s absolutely wonderful that cat owners are looking for ways to entertain their feline family members; be it because they don’t get to frequent the great outdoors. Or simply because owners are looking to improve the bond with their beloved kitties. On the other hand, if these toys are inadvertently causing physical harm (potentially blindness) or leaving your feline unsatisfied and in a state of frustration, we have to question… is the cat tickling stick with attached faux feather a better option? Sometimes you can’t beat the good old-fashioned things in life.

You might also be interested in: