Why Are Cats So Fascinated With Lasers?

Cats are fascinated by fast-moving lights. They will always try and catch them, being the predators they are. This is a pastime that is great fun for them.

Laser dots have always been a source of keeping your cat occupied, although they are proving to be a bit controversial. Is this really a good thing for your feline friend?

Okay, so the laser dot equals a fast-moving mouse or bug, something that the cat is determined to pounce on! The fact that it never catches the object does not seem to deter the cat. Why is that?

Cats are obviously not dumb, so why does this fascinate them so? It’s the lure of the chase. That’s what really gets them. Whether they win in the end will not bother them. What gets them hooked is the hunting for prey, which is an instinctive thing.

There’s no intellectual thing here at all. It’s instinct, an inbred thing that’s always there. If it moves, and it’s small, it must mean, for them, that there’s prey to be pounced on and killed.

Cats interpret light differently

It also appears different. As humans, we see a laser dot and that’s all it is for us. Cats interpret such a thing differently. They see light in a way that is unlike our interpretation. That’s also why if you flick a light switch on and off, the cat will also find this totally fascinating. 

Their eyes differ from human eyes. The retina is comprised of rods and cones. We have more cones than rods, meaning that we experience a dynamic experience that is far more complex than that of the feline. Cats have more rods than cones, meaning they detect the slightest movement.

What we experience as an all-encompassing myriad of light and sound is one movement that is completely isolated and dynamic. Hence the fascination with the laser dot. This is very pronounced and powerful for them. For us, it’s merely part of a bigger picture.

The predatory circuit within comes alive when it sees the laser dot. That circuitry crackles as it comes alive, meaning that the cat has no option but to obey that instinctive surge. If the cat has figured out that it can’t catch the laser and keeps on going for it, means that the surge is still very much alive and well. 

It doesn’t much care that it’s not going to catch and eat. What it cares about is that it continues with the hunt, and this very much continues until that circuitry becomes more static. 

Why this is controversial

So, why is this controversial? The debate over the laser dot has been going on for some and the argument does hold merit. The cat enthusiasts complain this is not fair on the cat as the predatory performance is never fulfilled.

The cat may look like it’s having fun, and it could be, but also, more meaningfully, it’s the primary purpose to hunt and kill is being withheld.

This could lead to frustration and your cat starting to behave badly. Frustrated cats can become aggressive and hurtful and can start taking out this frustration on you. This can result in the odd swipe across the face or hand, which, as anyone who has been on the receiving end will know, is extremely painful.

When your purring little kitty starts behaving obnoxiously, this could well be the reason. The cat is frustrated, pure and simple, and how else is it going to take out this frustration? If you insist on carrying on with the laser game, give the cat a toy afterward that it can play with. This at least will mean there is some accomplishment gained and the cat doesn’t walk away totally empty-handed.

If you do carry on with it, and it’s still good mind-body activity for the cat, use the laser correctly, and obviously never point it directly into the cat’s eyes.