Is our cat’s favorite game good for him? What are the reasons that push our cat to try to catch a bright dot, let’s find out why the cat plays with the laser.
Cat owners have certainly witnessed some epic cat vs laser pointer fight. For something so small and odorless, that little red dot is sure to keep our furry friends busy, even though they’ll never catch it, or maybe that’s exactly why.
Interestingly, however, there is a real debate over laser pointers, and whether or not they are good toys for felines. So why do cats play with lasers, chase them and try to catch them? Is it time to get rid of the pointers and replace them with another type of game?
The fascination of playing with lasers
Lasers are certainly stimulating for cats because of what they represent: fast-moving prey. Just because our cat doesn’t have to struggle to get food (if we don’t want to count all the meowing that emphasizes our slowness in filling his bowl) doesn’t mean he’s not equipped for that task.
As the laser dot splashes around the room, our cat interprets it as a small animal trying to escape and hide. Because of this, some feline behaviors come up, especially the innate desire to hunt, hunt and kill the prey in question. The fact that it is actually a projection doesn’t matter much because our kitty is acting with the self-driving, not the intellect.
How cats see lasers
There is another factor to play when the cat plays with the laser, and that is the fact that a laser simply looks attractive. To understand why, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of how our cat’s eyes work and how they are different from human eyes.
The retina is one of the main structures of the eye. It is made up of two types of key cells: rods and cones. Rods deal with low-light vision and movement, while cones help the eye see colors. Human eyes have more cones than rods, which means we see the world in more vivid colors. Cats, on the other hand, have more rods than cones, which makes them great experts at capturing every slightest movement.
What is this for in our case? It means lasers are hard to ignore. The moment we turn on a laser pointer, our cat will perceive it with its peripheral vision, and if it has not yet understood that it cannot really eat that red dot (or maybe it knows it, but it doesn’t care), that’s where it will leave. its predatory cycle.
The cat and laser debate
It may surprise us to hear that there is a controversy over whether or not it is a good idea to tempt a cat to play with lasers, but the cat / laser debate is one that has been going on for some time.
The main problem reported by cat enthusiasts who are against lasers is that chasing a laser is unnerving for our kitty. Let’s remember, our cat is chasing and catching that red dot because his brain is telling him to get the food and kill him. The cat does not distinguish it as a form of play, even if it is enjoying it.
The laser is an unreachable target, and no matter how good our furry friend’s hunting skills are, he will never be able to eat it and therefore his predatory cycle will never end. Many cats understand this problem in the long run, and will stop interacting with the laser. Others will find it very frustrating, and will start misbehaving as a result. Frustrated cats behave in ways that are anything but positive, such as destructively or aggressively. If you notice a connection between laser gaming and negative behavior, it’s probably time to let go of the pointer once and for all.
Now that we understand why the cat plays with lasers, to make lasers a game more than a frustration, give the cat a reward or a toy right after playing. This will give him the satisfaction of “killing something”, even if not necessarily the laser.
Security tips for pointers
Once we make sure our cat really enjoys playing with the laser, and isn’t just caught in an endless loop of hunter dissatisfaction, there’s probably not much to worry about. Chasing a laser is a fantastic way for our cat to get some physical and mental exercise, and it also leads them to let off their feline instincts a bit – something indoor cats can’t do as often as they should.
Of course, we must make sure that we follow some safety procedures to avoid that while the cat plays with the laser, it can get hurt. Here are the main ones:
- Do not point the light directly at the cat’s eyes – even toy lasers emit incredibly bright light, so they should not be aimed directly at the cat’s eyes (or ours!). If we do, we could cause them vision problems and / or eye injuries.
- We provide the cat with many other toys: if the laser is our cat’s only escape valve, it is very likely that frustration will build up. Let’s make sure he has access to plenty of other items to hunt and play with, including catnip toys and chopsticks.