The Laser Pointer: Unbeatable Foe from jackery's blog

Why do I call the Rechargeable Laser Pointer an unbeatable foe? Because it is.

Most cats love to play with the extra fast dot of a laser pointer toy. RJ can hear the jingle of its chain from anywhere in the apartment.

But this great toy does have some cautions attached; though maybe not the kind we might think.

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laser cautions
The first worry might be that it is, after all, a laser. We certainly aren’t getting any evil scientist action, since our rugs and our drapes are not bursting into flame. We can barely feel it on our skin. But can it hurt our cat’s eyes, or even someone else’s?

According to the ever handy Wikipedia, the kinds of Burning Laser Pointers sold as toys are the weakest kind, with power measured in less than one mW (milliwatt.) For lasers up to 5 mW, a human would sustain damage after deliberately staring at it for at least ten seconds.

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I was reassured.

watch the red dot

While cat’s eyes are more sensitive to light than ours, this would still leave quite a margin of safety, especially if we are careful to keep the beam aimed down, where the cat’s gaze would be directed, when the cat is in close quarters with it.

Of course the cat wants to be as close as possible. Part of what drives the cat “crazy with the red dot” is how the cat can never seem to get the upper hand on this wily prey. RJ got tremendously excited one time when the dot darted into one of my empty slippers. We could see he was certain that, this time, there would be no escape for the dot.

But of course he came up empty. That’s where the real danger of the laser pointer 5000mw toy probably lies: frustration.

unbeatable foe

We don’t mind watching a movie where the villain keeps getting the better of our main character; as long as our hero or heroine triumphs in the end. If the villain not only escaped, but followed through on their nefarious plans, it would not be the kind of movie we were expecting. In that case, we probably wouldn’t show up for Red Dot II: Play the Fool Again.

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But our cat would. They will go for the excitement every time; but afterwards, they could have something still driving them, though they don’t know what. They aren’t going to write a negative review, like we might with a poor film. They might redirect that frustration onto things they shouldn’t play with, or go looking for something that can succumb to their hunting power, whether it wants to or not.

So if we see our cat is still wound up, and maybe gets into trouble after a rousing red dot game, it is especially important for us to conclude our Burning Laser Pointers games with some kind of triumph for our cats.

big finish

It is difficult for the cat to get proper satisfaction from catching the dot; in the first place, they can’t, and in the second place, there is no tactile feedback that lets them know they have “won.”

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That’s why we conclude our laser session with RJ by switching to another toy for the finish; something he can actually catch, wrestle, and get some closure from. Just putting the red laser pointer away in a drawer leaves the cat with a lot of mental energy that hasn’t been expended. It’s as though that unsatisfying movie suddenly stops abruptly with a power failure.

It’s not fair to work the cat up without giving them the satisfaction of a successful hunt. So toss out some sponge balls, switch over to a wand toy, or use a stuffed animal to “attack and give up” as the successful conclusion to a play session.

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By jackery
Added Feb 8



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