There is no clear cut answer as to whether laser pointers can cause OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) in cats. The likely answer is that if a cat is stressed or predisposed to OCD, the condition may be triggered by playing with a laser pointer and extended play with the device makes it more likely. The cat would express his OCD through pointer play.
There is more anecdotal evidence on the internet about dogs being ‘messed up’ by playing with a laser pointer than there is for cats as far as I can tell. I have not seen a page on cats under this topic. There are reports of dogs becoming obsessed after one session with a pointer. They start chasing anything remotely like a pointer (e.g. glints or specks of light and reflections) or their behaviour changes for the worse generally (i.e abnormal behaviour).
They say the problem for dogs is that the pointer is silent and gives off no scent. The dog can’t process this as they expect noise and smell. Another problem is the well known one: frustration. It is impossible to catch the prey. These factors balled together do a dog’s head in causing a form of mental illness.
As a precaution it is best to limit laser pointer play. OCD is a mental illness, which I know of as being caused by anxiety and an obsessive need to control the environment as a means to make events more reassuring and less uncertain and scary. On that definition laser pointers don’t cause OCD.
A cat that is stressed for any reason may self-harm by over grooming. The places where the cat grooms are easy to get at which means the lower belly usually. The fur is removed symmetrically. This is said to be a form of OCD.
Perhaps a cat that is already suffering from OCD may latch onto the laser pointer as a means to express his mental health condition. But could a perfectly healthy and stable cat develop OCD from playing with a pointer too much?
It is possible it seems to me. The device is very compelling for a cat. Well, it is for my cat. If something is that interesting and stimulating common sense says that a cat will desire it a lot and that desire may get out of control. I am guessing but this may be more likely to happen if a cat is bored and normally under stimulated and then suddenly presented with laser pointer play.
If this form of obsession did occur it would not strictly be OCD on the face if it. It would be more of a strong habit. However, we as we don’t know all there is to know about OCD, I am speculating.
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