Laser Toys: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Part One: The Good

Every doting cat guardian, it seems, is always on the lookout for the latest, greatest toy – something that will capture their kitty companion’s attention and hone his or her hunting skills.  One of the tried and true is the good old laser pointer. Many Dogs as well as cats seem very “turned on” by the spot on the wall that travels quickly across the floor, onto the table, couch, etc.  Exhausted humans have found that they have to literally show their cat or dog the pointer, and put in back in a drawer to end a session, so that they stop obsessing over “the dot.”

In the next few posts, I'll address the the good, the bad, the ugly when it comes to using laser pointers as cat toys.

In this first post: some about The Good.

If you have a play-finicky cat, who doesn't seem interested in toys, but happens to go nuts for the laser, great!  We’ll harness that excitement in a two-phase play therapy session.

The pointer’s job in the first phase is to get your cat’s “motor” going.  Whether they’re a sports car where the key just has to be turned, or the play version of a Model-T where you have to turn the crank for a few minutes, the idea is to get your cat to the point where their head stops following the dot lazily, and their body simply takes over.  Vroom!

Now, pull the old switcheroo and get them on to an actual “play victim,” such as one of my favorites, Da Bird, a fishing pole toy with feathers on the end.  You may think your cat wouldn’t be interested in this toy because you didn't start the session with it.  But by getting them to the point where they are in pure hunter mode, they’ll be more inclined to chase anything in front of them.  Remember to keep the “tempo” of the second toy similar to the laser, and make the switch fluid, even overlapping the image of the dot onto the new toy.  They’ll probably lunge for the dot on the feathers.  Then, you’ve got them!

Why do we do this in two stages?  Because in the first we can “turn the motor over,” but only with the second can they accomplish my play mantra of  “hunt, catch, kill, eat!”  They need to gnaw, toss and do the “all four-paw wraparound.”  This will make for a fully exercised cat – not just aerobically, but exercised at their hunter core, too.

Another positive use for the laser pointer is coming in my next post.

Till then, happy hunting to you and your cat companions.

Other posts in this series: Part Two Part Three