Sitting on the couch with a laser pointer and playing with your cat can seem like a lot of fun for owners and the cat. The elusive light can dance anywhere and even the most agile of cats struggles to keep up. But are they having fun and is it helpful or harmful?
From an owners perspective it’s easy to see why you playing with your cat in this way seems like a great idea. They respond really well to the stimulation, they stalk, hunt and jump after the light and it gets them moving.
From the cats perspective things are a little different though. Cats through life and play like to stalk, hunt, watch and then pounce on their prey. The laser can never be ‘caught’ though and this can be frustrating for the animal. Because they are used to have a tangible or tactile outcome to these games, the laser can be a source of frustration.
Cats can become overly aroused, frustrated, confused and annoyed by these games. The results can at times be aggression towards other cats or biting and scratching.
How to Play with Lasers the Right Way
Cats need a prize or a reward for their efforts, so a way around this is to set up soft toys in the area where you will play. Then as you begin your game, start with having them chase the beam, when it’s time for them to be rewarded with a ‘catch’ shine it onto the top of one of the toys and leave it there so that they can feel the catch and rough it up for a second.
Don’t just go from 100 miles and hour to stopping the play. Decrease the speed of play down to a slower pace, before finally leaving the light on a toy to end the session with a ‘catch’. Before ending the session reward them with a treat or a meal.
They will be happy and enjoy the play feeling less frustrated over all.
What to Avoid in Laser Play with Cats
- Shining in their eyes
- Long sessions with no reward
- Stopping the session abruptly
Smiley Pets don’t recommend the use of laser pointer play, but there are safe ways to do it if you are going to play that way.