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Tags cat eyes , laser pointer

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Old 11th July 2009, 07:51 AM   #1
catbasket
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Laser pointer cat toys - could they harm the cat's eyesight?

This topic came up at a pet forum where some people were concerned they could damage their cat's eyes/eyesight. There seems to be a lot of conflicting info around from 'do not ever point a laser at a cat's eyes' to 'A leading eye specialist has dismissed as "absolute rubbish" claims that laser pens can cause blindness.' - BBC article

The Wiki article CatWP in the section 'Play' states "While caution is called for, there are no documented cases of feline eye damage from a laser pointer, and the combination of precision needed and low energy involved make it a remote risk." (citations needed).

IIRC the lasers in cat toys are usually rated at <2mW. The ones I use are <1mW and red (exact wavelength unknown). Is there any danger at all to a cat's eyes with lasers at these low powers? Is it possible to say what power rating would be definitely dangerous or are there too many other factors to give a definite answer? Does the wavelength of the light make much difference ... e.g. would a yellow laser be potentially more dangerous than a red?
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Old 11th July 2009, 11:24 AM   #2
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I doubt it'll hurt your puss.

In any case: Blind Cat = Funny.
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Old 11th July 2009, 11:37 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by foxholeatheist View Post
In any case: Blind Cat = Funny.
The standard of trolling here has really gone downhill.
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Old 11th July 2009, 11:53 AM   #4
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No really, I'm not. I should have mentioned that my wife asked our vet the same question and he said that he did it all the time. He saw far more injuries to things like the sharp ends of springs in some cat toys getting stuck in the eyes. I think he actually said that he had never heard of any retinal damaged to kitties due to laser pointers.

Our big old orange tabby Chairman Meow was blind since birth. And really really funny.

Sorry if that was in poor taste.
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Old 11th July 2009, 11:58 AM   #5
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Generally, if the pointer is less than 0.5 milliwatt output, it's considered eye safe.

Check to see if it has an ANSI classification. If it's ANSI Class 3B or Class 4, I'd be concerned.

ETA: Wavelength does make a difference, but if the lasers you are using are less than one mW (as you stated), you'll probably have to hold it up to the cat's eye with it's eye forced open so it can't blink in order to do any real damage.

ETA II: I'm in basic agreement with the article. If it matters, I'm a Laser Safety Officer where I work. Generally, we don't even bother licensing laser pointers anymore. Generally considered eye-safe.
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Last edited by Mr. Skinny; 11th July 2009 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 11th July 2009, 12:54 PM   #6
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Has anyone ever heard of anyone actually suffering permanent eye damage as a result of a laser pointer? I haven't.

Common sense dictates, of course, that we don't shine these in anyone's eyes, but as ubiquitous as laser pointers have become, I'd have to think that if there was any real danger, we'd all have heard of some actual cases of laser-pointer-caused eye damage by now.
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Old 11th July 2009, 01:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by foxholeatheist View Post
No really, I'm not. I should have mentioned that my wife asked our vet the same question and he said that he did it all the time. He saw far more injuries to things like the sharp ends of springs in some cat toys getting stuck in the eyes. I think he actually said that he had never heard of any retinal damaged to kitties due to laser pointers.

Our big old orange tabby Chairman Meow was blind since birth. And really really funny.

Sorry if that was in poor taste.
A misunderstanding, no probs. Apologies for using the T-word
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Old 11th July 2009, 01:06 PM   #8
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Laser pointers of the type you describe are class I, which basically means that the laser can be shone into a human eye continually without damage. Cat's eyes are different, but I doubt the difference is so much that the rating wouldn't apply to them too.

The laser pointers you have to worry about are the high power ones of 10+ mW (usually green, but they can be otherwise).

- Dr. Trintignant (posted from TAM7)
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Old 11th July 2009, 01:08 PM   #9
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I'm more worried about the loud thuds when the cats fail to make the turn at the top of the stairs and collide with the wall.

I try not to shine the laser near their heads anyway.
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Old 11th July 2009, 01:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dr. Trintignant View Post
- Dr. Trintignant (posted from TAM7)
Rub it in, why don't you? May your socks mysteriously disappear overnight! (and thanks for the info).
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Old 11th July 2009, 01:12 PM   #11
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Oh yeah, I have used one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzler_(weapon)

It's usually mounted on my rifle's right side but I have since turned it into the armory. I mainly use it to stop cars or during raids. I heard that there are some lasers that can make you vomit almost instantly but I've never personally seen them.
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Old 11th July 2009, 01:18 PM   #12
Dr. Trintignant
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Originally Posted by catbasket View Post
Rub it in, why don't you? May your socks mysteriously disappear overnight! (and thanks for the info).
Too late with that curse--my cat already steals my socks and hides them .

- Dr. Trintignant
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Old 11th July 2009, 01:25 PM   #13
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzler_(weapon) doesn't go directly - click middle search item, then top item on page that comes up.
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Old 11th July 2009, 02:01 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Retrograde View Post
I'm more worried about the loud thuds when the cats fail to make the turn at the top of the stairs and collide with the wall.
I'd say that's the biggest danger from the laser pointers: Running cats into walls. A friend had a tabby that would go absolutely nuts and chase the pointer dot all over the place if she saw it; she'd literally chase it all the way down the hallway at full speed. And that cat could book. I never thought about it at the time, but now I wonder what would've happened if we ran that dot to the end and up the wall. Part of me thinks she would've stopped short and started pawing at it, but the other part of me... well... let's just say I'm envisioning a Wile E. Coyote type accident.

Originally Posted by Mr. Skinny View Post
... I'm a Laser Safety Officer where I work.
What a fun job. Just hold a laser in each hand and run around the hallways going "Pew pew pew!" next week.
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Old 11th July 2009, 02:11 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ElMondoHummus View Post
What a fun job. Just hold a laser in each hand and run around the hallways going "Pew pew pew!" next week.
Actually, being LSO is just an additional duty. I'm a Safety Engineer, which means I get tagged with any duty that even smells like it's safety related.

I'm also Radiation Safety Officer.

And alternate Foreign Object Damage (FOD) manager.

And alternate Unit Safety Representative.

And System Safety representative on many Safety Review Boards.

And de facto Test & Evaluation manager.
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Old 11th July 2009, 02:43 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by ElMondoHummus View Post
I'd say that's the biggest danger from the laser pointers: Running cats into walls. A friend had a tabby that would go absolutely nuts and chase the pointer dot all over the place if she saw it; she'd literally chase it all the way down the hallway at full speed. And that cat could book. I never thought about it at the time, but now I wonder what would've happened if we ran that dot to the end and up the wall. Part of me thinks she would've stopped short and started pawing at it, but the other part of me... well... let's just say I'm envisioning a Wile E. Coyote type accident.
She probably would have run straight up the wall (or at least jumped up the wall) as far as she could. That's been my experience with cats, laser pointers, and walls. They don't crash into the wall, they don't hurt themselves, they just have loads of fun and ruin any wallpaper you might have up
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Old 11th July 2009, 03:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by SkeptiChick View Post
She probably would have run straight up the wall (or at least jumped up the wall) as far as she could. That's been my experience with cats, laser pointers, and walls. They don't crash into the wall, they don't hurt themselves, they just have loads of fun and ruin any wallpaper you might have up
Yeah, you're probably right. This cat could indeed climb, and had in fact gotten into some weird placed in that house before.

Originally Posted by Mr. Skinny View Post
Actually, being LSO is just an additional duty. I'm a Safety Engineer, which means I get tagged with any duty that even smells like it's safety related.

I'm also Radiation Safety Officer.

And alternate Foreign Object Damage (FOD) manager.

And alternate Unit Safety Representative.

And System Safety representative on many Safety Review Boards.

And de facto Test & Evaluation manager.
So no "Pew pew pew!!" up and down the hallways?
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Old 11th July 2009, 04:34 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by ElMondoHummus View Post
Yeah, you're probably right. This cat could indeed climb, and had in fact gotten into some weird placed in that house before.



So no "Pew pew pew!!" up and down the hallways?
Well, I do get to see them do some amazing stuff with the "laser of doom", as I call it (150 Kilowatt CO2), but it doesn't make a pew, pew, pew sound.

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Old 11th July 2009, 04:58 PM   #19
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Well, cat's eyes have basically a mirror behind the retina, so whatever light passed right through, gets to pass through the retina again. Which is why their eyes look like flashlights in the dark, if there's any light in front of them.

So taking a very wild guess (a.k.a., talking out the rear end) I'd go for at most half of what's safe for a human eye.
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Old 11th July 2009, 05:30 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Mr. Skinny View Post
Well, I do get to see them do some amazing stuff with the "laser of doom", as I call it (150 Kilowatt CO2), but it doesn't make a pew, pew, pew sound.
Now that's a design flaw right there.
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Old 11th July 2009, 05:42 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by patchbunny View Post
Now that's a design flaw right there.
Somewhat agree, but it does make a frying bacon sound sometimes, a blow-upppy sound sometimes.

I think you need a pulsed laser for that pew, pew, pew sound effect.

Then again, laser light pulses don't really make sounds.
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Old 11th July 2009, 05:56 PM   #22
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Our cat is completely indifferent to any laser pointer we own. He just stares at the dot, then looks at the hand holding the pointer, then walks off.

Our ringneck dove is terrified of that red dot. If she's on something we don't want her on, all one of us has to do is shine a laser pointer on or near her, and she's in a flapping panic to be ANYWHERE else.
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Old 11th July 2009, 06:06 PM   #23
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You have a dove? Like for a pet?

They taste good you know.

I meant the dove. Though I am Korean I do not partake in the goyangi soju.
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Old 11th July 2009, 06:12 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by foxholeatheist View Post
You have a dove? Like for a pet?

They taste good you know.

I meant the dove. Though I am Korean I do not partake in the goyangi soju.
"goyangi soju"? (I only read English, sorry to say).

Yes, the dove is a pet. Little feathered stray showed up injured and hungry on the doorstep one cold night and she's been a family member ever since. She and the cat mostly ignore each other.

AvaOnSubmarine.jpg
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Old 11th July 2009, 07:12 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by SkeptiChick View Post
She probably would have run straight up the wall (or at least jumped up the wall) as far as she could. That's been my experience with cats, laser pointers, and walls. They don't crash into the wall, they don't hurt themselves, they just have loads of fun and ruin any wallpaper you might have up
That's my experience as well. My cat hasn't figured out how to follow the magic dot up to the ceiling yet, but I'm sure he'll work it out eventually. He did end up hanging from a towel rack once. Well, not hanging really; he held himself up in chin-up position, then looked over his shoulder and jumped down front feet first.
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Old 12th July 2009, 02:17 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Seanette View Post
"goyangi soju"? (I only read English, sorry to say).

Yes, the dove is a pet. Little feathered stray showed up injured and hungry on the doorstep one cold night and she's been a family member ever since. She and the cat mostly ignore each other.

Attachment 14577
How do you keep the bird form pooping on everything?
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Old 12th July 2009, 02:49 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by patchbunny View Post
How do you keep the bird form pooping on everything?
We don't. We just do a lot of bird bomb patrolling. She does have preferred areas, which helps.
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