When you reach for a toy with which to engage your cat, you should never use a laser pointer. Prefer instead something tactile, like a mouse on a string attached to a stick. Bonus points if it’s a fur-covered thing.
Tactile response is key to encourage the cat to develop musculature in the paws. A laser pointer simply urges the cat to strike at the floor – not as complex as the motion the cat might make cupping a mouse between the claws.
The lack of tactile response, however, is a minor concern next to the very real danger of damaging your cat’s eyes. A cat’s eye is a very sensitive instrument and the sharp burst of photons encountered upon looking at the laserlight is like nothing they’d ever be subject to in the natural world.
The fact that the laser pointer doesn’t exist in the cat’s natural environment compounds issues when the cat is exposed to the stimulus. Confronted with something the animal doesn’t understand, it is driven to frenzy. Surely you’ve noticed, if you’ve used one of these toys, the frenetic nature with which the cat pursues the end of the laser. It quite literally makes them mad.