Friday, February 10, 2012

Dogs, cats and laser pointers

Liam the pug with a laser pointer
Liam prepares his attack.
Run a search on the Web for "best dog and cat toys," and you may be led to believe that laser pointers represent the pinnacle of the play experience. Sales pages say that animals will play with these things for hours on end, losing weight and burning energy, and all you have to do is sit in your easy chair and watch it happen.

I'm here to tell you that it ain't necessarily so.

Most dogs and cats aren't dumb, and they won't do anything that doesn't seem worthwhile. Playing with a laser toy might seem fun, but all of my cats and the dog have figured out the main drawback of this toy: They can't catch it. If I try to engage the pets in laser play, the cats will just ignore me, and the dog ends up doing something like this a few times until he gives up.

Liam the pug looking the wrong direction for a laser toy
Note that the red dot is behind him.
He will run through the dot a few times, madly snapping, before he figures out that this must be some sort of trick or else he'd be able to catch it.

So, hours of play are pretty much impossible. Minutes of play might be possible, but only if your pet is very trusting.

I don't use the laser toy at all anymore. It makes me feel too much like Lucy, pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. Throwing the ball for the dog or using a feather toy with the cat is much more entertaining for everyone involved.