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Are Laser Toys Bad for Cats?

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Many people like to play with their cats using laser toys. Cats will jump and pounce on the little red dot for hours. Laser toys are easy to use and seem relatively safe.

But sometimes people ask, “Are laser toys bad for your cat?” Let’s investigate!

The Benefits of Laser Toys

A laser toy definitely provides mental stimulation for your cat. It requires her to process new stimuli, shift her weight, and change the direction of her momentum—all within a second or two. Laser toys simultaneously provide strenuous physical exercise. Jumping, running, and pouncing will burn lots of calories and prevent obesity in your cat.

People also appreciate the convenience of laser pointers. After a long day at work, it’s more relaxing to point a laser than get up and play active games with your cat.

Laser cat toys also let cats exercise their natural prey instincts. To them, the laser dot looks like the perfect prey. They will pounce on it over and over!

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The Drawbacks of Laser Toys

When you want to know if laser toys are bad for your cat, you have to consider their drawbacks. Laser toys stimulate the cat to pounce on “prey” without providing a tangible reward. Cat behaviour expert Pam Johnson-Bennett explains, “Cats have carpal whiskers on the underside of their paws (at the wrist) and they use those whiskers to detect movement of prey when they have their paw over it.” Pouncing on a laser light and feeling nothing under their paws can be frustrating.

Pam also warns that playing with laser toys may cause mental problems. “In some cases, chasing laser lights can cause cats to develop a fixation with any flickering light and they may end up displaying OCD-type behavior.”

Behaviorist Marilyn Krieger says, “People typically play with laser pointers for cats in a way that frustrates and teases cats. Laser players usually point and dance the beams randomly on the floors and walls for their cats to chase.” This causes cats to randomly pounce around until they are exhausted, which is not their natural hunting pattern.

In the wild, they would stalk for an extended period of time and then pounce quickly. Running for long periods may work be normal for cheetahs and larger breeds of cat, but it isn’t natural behaviour for domestic cats. 

Mama Knows Best

Are laser toys bad for your cat? When you weigh the pros and cons of laser toys, you may conclude that they aren’t the best toy for your cat’s long-term health and happiness. As a fur parent, you know what’s best for your cat.

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