Why Do Cats Chase Lasers?


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Why are cats obsessed with lasers?

All cat parents are familiar with the eternal struggle between the cat and the laser pointer.

For something so small and odorless, that little red dot is sure to keep cats busy, despite (or perhaps due to) the fact that they can never actually catch it. Interestingly, however, there is some debate as to whether laser pointers are a great toy for our feline friends.

So why are cats chasing lasers and is it time to ditch the laser in favor of a different kind of toy?

The allure of the laser

Lasers are inherently stimulating to cats because of what they represent: fast-moving prey. Just because your cat doesn't have to work hard to feed (unless you count all the effort it takes to meow all morning to fill his bowl) doesn't mean he's not ready for work.

When the point of a laser travels across the room, your cat interprets it as a small animal trying to run and hide. As such, certain inherent feline behaviors emerge, particularly the innate desire to hunt, attack, and kill the prey in question. The fact that it is simply a projection doesn't matter much because your cat is operating on autopilot, not intellect.

How Cats See Lasers

There is also another factor at play here when your cat is chasing a laser, and that is the fact that it simply looks attractive. To understand why it helps to have a basic understanding of how your cats' eyes operate and how they differ from human eyes.

The retina is one of the main structures of the eye. It is made up of two key types of cells: rods and cones. The rods take care of low-light vision and motion detection, while the cones help the eye see color.

Human eyes have more cones than rods, which means that we see the world with great vitality. Cats, on the other hand, have more rods than cones, making them adept at picking up even the slightest movement.

What does this have to do with lasers? It means that they are quite difficult to ignore. The moment you turn a laser dot towards your cat, it will detect it in your peripheral vision, and if you haven't already realized that you can't actually eat that red dot (or if you know you can't but don't care) then that's all it takes to start its predatory cycle.

The Cats and Lasers Debate

It may be surprising to hear that there is some controversy as to whether it is a good idea to tempt your cat with lasers, but the debate between the cat and the laser is one that has been going on for some time.

The main problem observed by cat enthusiasts who are anti-laser is that making your cat chase a laser is a form of taunting. Remember, your cat is stalking and pouncing on that red dot because his brain is telling him to catch the food and kill it. The cat is clearly not doing this as a form of play, even if he is having fun.

The laser is an unattainable target, and no matter how great your cat's hunting skills are, it will never be able to eat it and it will never end its predatory cycle. Many cats figure out the trick and stop interacting with the laser.

Others find it immensely frustrating and may start to misbehave as a result. Frustrated cats behave less than ideally, such as becoming destructive or aggressive. If you notice a connection between playing with your cat and a laser and misbehavior, it's probably time to put the pointer down for good.

To help make laser pointers more of a game and less of a joke, give your cat a treat or physical toy just after he is done playing. That way you will get the satisfaction of a "death", even if it is not from the laser itself.

Laser pointer safety tips

As long as your cat seems to enjoy chasing a laser and isn't just caught in an endless loop of hunting, jumping, and disappointment, there's probably nothing to worry about.

Chasing a laser is a great way for your cat to get some physical and mental exercise, and it also allows her to tap into her kitty instincts a bit, something that indoor cats can't do as often as they'd like.

Of course, you still need to make sure you follow the proper safety tips to avoid harming your cat during play. Here are two big ones to watch out for.

Do not shine the light directly into your cat's eyes. Even toy lasers emit incredibly bright light, so you shouldn't be aiming directly at your cat (or yourself!). Doing so could cause vision problems and/or eye damage.

Give your cat lots of other toys. If the laser is your cat's only outlet for play, the frustration is more likely to build up. Make sure he has access to plenty of other items to hunt and play with, including catnip toys and wands.

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about Can a Laser Toy Make Your Cat Crazy?

Source: Jackson Galaxy

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