The Star-Herald

Kitty laser fun

It turns out, there’s a pretty good reason cats are obsessed with laser pointers. 

Although Annie and Willie are no longer with us, they used to love chasing and trying to catch that elusive light.  They could be lazing around for hours, not paying one bit of attention, but the minute the kitchen drawer would open, they snapped to attention and were on high alert, waiting for the first sign of the jumping, dancing beam of light.  They also were amazingly aware of the silent creak of the treat cupboard being open.

One of the reasons cats love their laser pointer toys is because they are natural-born hunters and they view the laser as their prey, Michelle Lugones, DVM, veterinarian at Best Friends Animal Society, explained. 

“Most cats enjoy playing with laser pointers because the light can move in erratic, unpredictable ways, which mimics how their prey moves,” Lugones said. “Cats can chase, stalk, and ambush the light, which gives them exercise but also allows them to carry out their natural hunting behaviors.”

Matthew McCarthy, DVM, founder of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in Middle Village, New York, added that cats can be described as “hardwired predators,” and noted that this behavior is still found in our feline friends even though they are domesticated and have plenty of food available to them. 

“This is facilitated by their unique vision that is adapted to respond and track fast movements such as a mouse or other small fast-moving prey,” he said, sharing that owners may have seen this mechanism at work if their cat tends to respond to shorter, more erratic laser pointer movements as opposed to longer, slower movements when they are playing with their owners.

However, perhaps surprisingly, it is not the redness of the light from the laser pointer that draws cats in. McCarthy shared an interesting fact that may surprise cat owners who use laser pointers to play with their pets: cats cannot see the color red, and actually only view the world in blue, green, and combinations of these two colors. 

“So it is likely that the sharp contrast of the light itself is what draws them to the pointer beam,” he said.

So if you are looking for a fun and active way to keep your feline entertained, check out the very inexpensive lasers that are available.  

If you are looking for a new furry family member, stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society or check us out on Facebook.  Please be responsible, spay and neuter your pets.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the board of directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.