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This $4 toy keeps my cats entertained for hours

Your kitty won't be able to resist it, either.

On left, white Smartykat Loco Laser on a wooden surface. On right, one tan and black balinese cat sitting on carpet next to Smartykat Loco Laser. Credit: Reviewed / Ashley Zlatopolsky

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Let me preface this by saying that my two cats have literal boxes of toys. There’s one on each floor of our home. They have multiple cat condos, cat beds, and battery-operated sources of entertainment. For the most part, they ignore everything, save a handful of small balls with feathers that they chase around for a few minutes before lodging them under the couch.

They also have very different personalities. My older cat, Theodore, age 7, tends to be more sedentary and prefers to observe rather than play. My younger cat, Anya, 1.5, is a whirlwind of energy who only wants to play and never likes to relax. But they agree on one thing: They can’t get enough of a $4 SmartyKat Loco Laser Electronic Cat Toy I picked up from Target. It’s one of the best—and most affordable—investments I’ve made for my cats, on whom I’ve (clearly) spent way too much money trying to keep entertained.

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What is SmartyKat Loco Laser?

Hand pointing Smartykat Loco Laser pointer for cat playing with it.
Credit: Smartykat

Improve your cat's overall wellness with physical exercise through dedicated playtime.

SmartyKat Loco Laser is a small mouse-shaped laser that promises to encourage exercise and satisfy hunting instincts for cats. It’s made out of recycled plastic and metal and operates via lithium batteries, which are included. By clicking a button, the laser emits a bug-sized spot of red light that you can cast on the floor or other surfaces to replicate the fast movements of prey, which cats can then chase around.
Laser toys designed for cats are a source of physical exercise, says Dr. Maureen Murithi, a team veterinarian at SpiritDog Training based in New Mexico. “Cats are normally sedentary creatures and sleep roughly 16 hours a day,” she explains. “A moving laser beam provides a good form of exercise as it triggers their predatory instincts and offers a source of mental stimulation.”

What’s it like to use a laser cat toy?

On left, Smartykat Loco Laser pointer. On right, Smartykat Loco Laser pointer packaging.
Credit: Smartykat

The Smartykat Loco Laser pointer is a low-lift way to captivate your cat's attention.

Using the SmartyKat Loco Laser is one of the easiest ways to play with your cats while also bonding with them. As soon as we open the drawer in our kitchen where we store our laser toy, both of our cats come running down the stairs, ready to go on an adventure with their favorite toy.
It doesn’t take much effort from the human, either: We can shine the laser all over the floor, walls, and furniture just from sitting at our kitchen table. We often trail the laser across the carpet, then bring it up the side of the couch so the cats can do a little jumping. However, we’re always careful not to point the laser too high to prevent any jumping (or landing) injuries.

What I like about SmartyKat Loco Laser

Black and white cat playing with laser pointer dot from owner in front of green wall.
Credit: Getty Images / Borzywoj

Playing together is now easier than ever.

I like that this toy is a breeze to use, and that such a simple toy can provide so much entertainment for cats and humans alike. I especially appreciate that it gets our more sedentary cat off the couch to get some exercise. It’s also useful for socializing our younger cat, Anya, who often hides under the bed and can’t be brought out unless the laser beckons. As both cats are highly picky about their toys, I’m satisfied that they can agree on the laser and even enjoy playing together.

What I don't like about SmartyKat Loco Laser

On left, Smartykat Loco Laser pointing red beam. On right, brown and gray cat playing with red laser dot.
Credit: Smartykat

Be sure to reward your furry friend with a treat after playtime to avoid hostile behavior.

Due to the nature of lasers, cats don’t get the satisfaction of actually “catching” anything from playing this game. That’s why Dr. Murithi recommends rewarding cats after any laser play. “Cats usually get bored fast after chasing the beam for a few minutes,” she says. “They can turn destructive after continuous play without any reward. This predisposes them to anxiety.” To combat that, she suggests offering a treat after play. Pet owners can also give their cats another toy after laser play, like balls or pretend mice, to give them the satisfaction of the catch.

Is a laser toy safe for cats?

The SmartyKat Loco Laser is a safe toy, but pet owners should always be careful to never shine the laser light in their cat’s eyes or in the eyes of another human. Though lasers made for pets are designed with lower wattage (when compared to, say, a high-powered laser used for a presentation), it’s still important to exercise caution.
“Shining the laser in the cat’s eyes, even accidently, can harm their vision by burning the retina,” says Dr. Georgina Ushi, a veterinarian based in Tampa Bay, Florida. “This is something that should never happen because of the sensitive nature of the eyes.” The best way to prevent that from happening, Dr. Ushi explains, is to buy low-wattage lasers, like the SmartyKat Loco, made specifically as cat toys. These should clock in at no more than 5 milliwatts, which shouldn’t do any damage.

Is SmartyKat Loco Laser worth it?

Black and gray cat playing with red dot from laser pointer.
Credit: Getty Images / Evgeny Zhigalov

The Smartykat Loco Laser is an affordable option for any cat owner.

If your cats are picky like mine, sedentary or overly energetic, or just in need of a new toy, SmartyKat Loco Laser is worth considering to address any of those needs (or all of them at once). It’s an affordable product that can keep cats entertained for long periods of time. Though some cats might tire quickly of laser toys, mine continue to look forward to their play time and are thrilled when the laser comes out. For just $4, I can’t ask for more.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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