Are Laser Pointers Bad For Cats?

Bud is obsessed with his new laser pointer.

I bought one for the first time more than a week ago. For years I’d occasionally break out a level that shoots a narrow band of laser light that appears like a small stripe, and while Buddy enjoyed chasing after it, I’m thinking the laser probably wasn’t as powerful or didn’t register as well in the spectrum of light most visible to felines.

Whatever the reason, while he liked chasing the level’s laser light, he loves this $5 pet laser.


In fact, he loves it a little too much. Every day, if I haven’t taken it out for play time, he climbs up onto the coffee table and begins pawing at the tray that contains the laser pointer and TV remotes. He finds the pointer, bats at it with his little paws, and makes mewing sounds that undoubtedly translate to: “Play time! I want! I want! Play with me now!”

I can see now why some people warn against using these things. I thought the upside was worth the potential downside, because the laser pointer gets the little dude moving like few other toys do. (And even then only when they’re new and novel.)

Bud’s single-mindedness with the laser pointer reminds me of his one-track mind when it came to Temptations, before I stopped buying those infernal things. (Blue Buffalo makes very similar-looking treats that he happily gobbles up, but instead of the corn and filler of Temptations, they’re made of chicken, turkey, salmon and so on.)

Crucially he doesn’t act like a crack addict the way he did with the Temps, when he’d park himself by the treat cabinet and meow mournfully for his next fix.

The Red Dot!
I’ve caught the red dot! I’m eating it!

So I’m wondering: What kind of experiences have you guys had with laser pointers? Have you used them? Have your cats become obsessed?

One final thought: Bud is fully aware the laser comes from the pointer, and he knows I have to press the button for the beam to work. That’s a clear example of abstract thinking. So far he hasn’t figured out a way to activate it himself, but you never know…

7 thoughts on “Are Laser Pointers Bad For Cats?”

  1. I hate the laser pointer! We used to use it with Jelly Bean and Chelsea and they were so obsessed with it, they were like mindless followers of a cult! I used to joke that Chelsea worshiped “The Church of the Holy Laser Pointer” whenever they even thought it was coming out, they’d go running into the living room to see if they could find the red dot. I totally agree that it seems like an unhealthy obsession. I don’t want anyone using it with Holly. Fortunately, she likes paws-on toys better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have one pointer with a keychain, and Ganmo would chase it like a cheetah hunting a rabbit for a couple of minutes max. Like Buddy, Ganmo is capable of abstract thinking (rattling of the keychain = playtime, clicking sound = red-dot friend), and she “eats” it too as if she is chewing tough meat (chomps with molars)!

    Shima totally ignores it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. I wonder why Ganmo loves it but Shima ignores it. Unfortunately I don’t get to see much cat to cat interaction, what with the king being the king around here. Maybe cats are using their imaginations and think the red dot is delicious.


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