It is quite amusing to sit and watch your furry friend chase after a tiny red dot of light from a laser pointer. While you facilitate the movement by manipulating and maneuvering the source of the light in your hand, your pet kitty is going through genuine moments of epic desperation leaping over the furniture and scrambling up and down the walls as it chases after that little speck of light which it will never be able to catch. It is a great form of exercise for an indoor-only cat, but the obvious question is, why do cats chase laser? Continue reading to find out more.
The Feline Population and Laser
Whenever you see a cat chasing after laser points, there is a primary factor at play; the shining points of the light look quite appealing to the feline. For you to come to terms with the reasons behind this, we have to look into the basics of how a kitty’s eye functions and how it differs from that of the human population.
To understand this, we need to take a closer look at the retina, which comprises of the cones and rods. While the cones function in aiding the eye to see different colors, the rods focus on movement detection and low light vision. The human eye is equipped with more of the cone cells than rods; what this means is that humans tend to see the world with sufficient vibrancy. Conversely, the feline population comes with more rods than cones which makes them more adept at detecting even the tiniest bit of movement.
Bringing it down to laser, this only means that it will be quite difficult for a cat to ignore the shiny light. The instance you turn a laser light on, any cat in the vicinity will immediately pick it up via their peripheral vision, and if they are yet to come to terms with the fact that the red dot light is not something edible, their predatory cycle will naturally kick-in, and you will see your furry companion in hot pursuit of the laser light.
Why Do Cats Chase Laser Pointers?
Your cat may not care about which color the laser pointer appears in; the attraction lies in the movement of the light. When you dart the points at one spot and pause, then dashes it over to a different spot, you are only imitating the possible actions of a normal prey animal that the cat would naturally lynch, and your kitty will definitely find it too difficult to overlook. What the movement does is to stimulate the feline’s predatory sequence, which starts from stalking to pouncing to killing and then eating. This is only a natural instinct that is innate in every member of the feline population, though it is true that their survival doesn’t depend on hunting anymore.
You should take note of the fact that what the laser pointers only satisfy in the cat’s predatory sequence is just the two couple of steps – stalking and pouncing, leaving the concluding two parts, killing and eating unfulfilled. For many kitties, this does not pose any problem as they will be quite satisfied with chasing the pointers around for sometime before they may decide to walk away undisturbed. However, there are still some cats that would get agitated when it becomes clear that they cannot eat the dot of light. This is because they actually believe that the light is a live prey, and their continuous failure at lynching it disconcerts them.
If you are worried about your furry friend getting frustrated with the wild goose chase, try to make a switch to another game that will permit the kitty to act out the predatory sequence to the end. There are some kitty fishing poles with which you can flip feathers or a stuffed mouse into the air, across the floor, or on the couch, this at least gives your furry companion a chance to trail, swoop and ultimately kill (or at least claw and bite) their supposed prey. Just remember to compensate the cat at the end of the game by tossing out some cat treats, or you can give her a food dispensing ball as a reward. This way, the cat will still be satisfied with all the stalking and swooping that came to naught.
Laser Chases: Are They Good for My Cat?
We are well aware of the fact that felines are natural hunters, and when you deny them the opportunity to explore their natural hunting instincts, they are most likely to resort to destructive and unruly behaviors. These disruptive behaviors may come in the form of excessive climbing, chewing as well as exploring. The laser play has been found to be quite productive for some cats as they use the short bursts of play and chase as a form of exercise.
Important to note that your cat might try to bite something tangible when it fails to catch the laser pointer, you might even be the victim, or they may pounce on some household object or other household pets. Out of the ensuing hyper-arousal and frustration, your feline friend may resort to chasing after the bright light that filters through the windows.
Check out our guide on the Best Cat Toys for more info.
The Controversy over the Feline and Lasers
The controversy of whether tempting a cat with a laser pointer is a good idea has been on for quite a while. Some cat fanciers that are against laser chase pointed out the fact that getting a cat to chase after the laser is tantamount to teasing. According to them, your kitty is in hot pursuit of that red light for the sole reason that it thinks it is food to be caught and eaten. It did not go into the chase as a form of play, even though it might appear to be having fun.
But the truth of the matter is that lasers pose some form of an unattainable target for your furry friend, and despite the cat’s exceptional hunting prowess, their predatory cycle with the laser will always remain unsatisfied, as it will never be able to catch the light. However, there are kitties that have figured out that particular ruse on their own and have since stopped any form of interaction with the laser light, while many others find it extremely frustrating, and may resort to some bad behaviors.
- Why Are Cats Obsessed with Laser Pointers? – PetMD
- Dr. Universe: Why do cats like lasers? -Izzy, 10, MD – Ask Dr. Universe