Unlike dogs, our feline companions are almost impossible to restrain on a leash, let alone train to follow their human. This brings some challenges for indoor cats as the lack of walks and exercising usually leads to obesity, boredom, and just plain restlessness.
A new craze on the market is the cat wheel, a nifty invention that provides enough mental and physical stimulation, even for the most hyperactive cats out there. Basic indoor activities for cats, such as playing with toys, chasing a laser pointer, and cuddling just aren’t engaging enough to make your lazy furball get those muscles working effectively.
In this article, you’ll find all the vital info on the cat exercise wheel, as well as the top products on the market to compare and choose from. Based on the customer’s honest opinions and our expert’s 13-year long experience, this cat-wheel review can serve as a great starting point for choosing the best wheel for your furry friend.
What exactly is a cat exercise wheel?
Fairly new on the market, a cat exercise wheel is basically a pet-friendly workout machine designed for your cat to try out some walking or running in place. It mostly looks like a huge hamster wheel and mainly works the same – the cat steps on the wheel which rotates as she walks, jumps, or runs on it.
They are sold in different sizes and designs, but the wheel has to be large and wide enough to withstand the cat’s weight and movement patterns. To prevent hazardous slipping and injuries, the inside of the wheel is covered with a non-slippery material, but not too bumpy so that the cat’s claws don’t get jammed during workouts.
Depending on the brand, a cat exercise wheel can come with appealing features like LED lights, colorful or patterned wheel designs, attachments for scratching, etc.
Pros and cons of getting a cat wheel
As flimsy as it may appear to some wary pet parents, cat wheels have proved to be a sturdy piece of equipment worthy of trying out. They are not only beneficial for cats but also time-saving and convenient for their owners too.
Benefits of owning a cat wheel
Boosting kitty cardio
Domestic cats easily slip into the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. If there’s nothing to chase around or explore, your cat will quickly lapse into cuddling, snacking, and snoozing all day long. Inactive cats can end up suffering from obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, indigestion, and joint issues. A 30-minute spinning on the cat wheel daily is just enough to burn excess calories, spark your cat’s interest and get the blood pumping.
A smart solution for tiny spaces
Cats are not made to be enclosed, especially not in cramped rooms. If your cat is limited in a tiny apartment, an exercise wheel can compensate for the lack of free space for movement. It can fit perfectly in a corner, next to a bed or in-between furniture. Mesmerized by her new gadget, your cat will be too busy to jump on your shelves, knock down objects and hang from the curtains.
Eliminating street and weather dangers
More and more cat parents decide to keep their feline friends indoors all the time, and it perfectly makes sense. The danger of car hits, risk of cat theft, weather hazards such as heat strokes or winter frostbites are all solid reasons for closing the doors to street wandering. However, it leads to a lack of movement and exercise.
This is where the cat wheel enters the picture as an optimal solution – keeping the cat safe and protected while providing her with fun and purposeful physical activity.
Working on cognitive improvement and mental stimulation
Cats thrive best when we nurture their curiosity. While a cat wheel won’t do much for your kitty’s cognitive development on its own, it can serve as an aiding tool to introduce mind-stimulating games, try out obedience training or work on your cat’s confidence and encouragement.
With his favorite toy, laser pointer, shuttlecock, or a plain bell you can create an array of games and utilize the wheel for exercise-packed activities.
Aiding owners with physical disabilities
Energetic cats can be a handful, especially if you try to keep up with their chaotic rhythm. People who suffer from physical limitations may find it challenging to play around with their cat, at least in such a way that provides enough exercise for the day. With a cat wheel, you can relax next to your cat while she’s having the time of her life on the spinning machine.
An investment that pays off
The best thing about a cat wheel is that your four-legged friend will never get enough of it. Once your cat gets the knack of it and the span of possibility for chasing, the wheel becomes an endless source of fun. While you might need to stretch your budget a bit to get a good-quality wheel, it will prove money-saving in the long term, because your cat will never grow out of it.
Things to look for before buying the cat wheel?
While the benefits substantially outweigh the disadvantages, there are certain factors to keep in mind when purchasing a cat exercise wheel.
Be prepared to free up some time and focus on the assembly part. Luckily, top products available come with intuitive and easy-to-follow instructions, with detailed explanations and pictures to help you understand each step of the assembly. Once put together, the best idea is to find a permanent spot for the wheel and not worry about the installation ever again.
Takes up space
While among the light-weight machines, cat wheels are usually bulky and require some furniture arrangements. You’ll probably need at least 10 square feet to fit the wheel and have enough space for the cat to use it comfortably.
Customers usually place it in a free corner, against the staircase or a free wall, as it’s not the width that’s the problem, but the wheel’s height that takes up space. Make sure to find a permanent place to put it before making the purchase.
Not a replacement for human interaction
Any indoor exercise gadget should by no means be a replacement for quality time spent with your pet. It’s great if your kitty takes a liking to the wheel, but make sure to doze the workouts and be involved as much as possible. Never leave your feline friend unsupervised on the wheel, even if she seems comfortable and relaxed. Your pet’s safety should always come as a priority.
But is it safe for my cat?
Being natural climbers, cats enjoy anything that involves chasing and “attacking”. Cat wheels are smartly designed to keep a cat on a constant incline angle, as it tries to go up. Unlike a pet-friendly treadmill, a wheel keeps the cat focused on the running pad and provides endless stimulation for continued movement.
As it promotes healthy physical activity, boosts energy, provides mental stimulation and improves overall wellbeing, a cat wheel is definitely a go-to option for indoor cats. If properly constructed, the wheel is perfectly safe to use or even lie on.
The circular running area allows your kitty to perform light to high-intensity exercising without getting caught in the “endless spinning”. Your cat controls the speed and intensity, if it’s walking, gentle pacing, or fast running that feels comfortable.
The only potential problem with the wheel can be your cat’s natural prey drive. A cat will obsessively chase a target until it catches it, which, on a spinning wheel, can be a bit tiring. Be careful with laser pointers, snacks, and toys when motivating your kitty to use the wheel. Always supervise their workouts and monitor time and exercise intensity.
Does it require any training?
Yes! You’ll have to devote some time and patience to introduce the wheel to your furry friend. Natural explorers and those with a high “play drive” will instinctively sniff around and show interest in wheeling. Wallflowers, on the other hand, will need a little push to use the full potential of the gadget.
Positive appraisal and reinforcement with snacks, wand toys and laser pointers usually work well as motivation tricks.
Use your cat’s favorite plaything or a yummy treat and dangle it next to the wheel to draw the cat’s attention. As soon as she starts leaping over and focusing on what’s in your hand, try to trick her into climbing the wheel.
Once on the running tread, your pet will naturally start moving and getting used to the new feel. It may take 1-2 months of adapting and training before they get the hang of it, but generally, cats just love using the wheel.
If, for some reason, your kitty is just too cautious and repelled by the machine, don’t force it. Your cat’s well being is always in the first place.
Things to consider when buying a cat wheel
Your cat’s age and health condition
Given that an exercise wheel is mostly designed for energetic, high-stamina cats, don’t force wheel spinning on an aging or injured cat. If your kitty gets the zoomies, can’t seem to rest quietly in one place, and is just dying for some action, then the wheel is an on-point investment. Injured cats with physical limitations should not play with the wheel before consulting a trusted vet.
Are you looking for a high-end piece of equipment, or you operate with a limited budget? If the cat doesn’t want to use it, will it be a complete waste of money? This will very much narrow down your choice options. Cat wheels can be quite expensive, so make sure to think of the pros and cons before deciding on the final purchase.
Each wheel has a maximum weight capacity limit, usually enough for most domestic cats. Nevertheless, always check the specifications, as you might want to buy a smaller (thus less expensive) wheel if you own a small cat or a kitten. Some wheels can withstand more than one cat at a time, a good option for multi-cat households.
Quality and materials
The most used part of the wheel is the inside of it, as it’s what your cat will be in direct contact with. The running pad should be comfortable and soft enough for the cat’s paws, but not too smooth to prevent falls and injuries.
Is your furry friend easily startled by loud noises? The wheel should operate silently enough not to stress out the cat. If the machine is too loud, your cat won’t probably even want to use it in the first place.
Depending on the cat’s personality, you’ll need to look into some extra features that come (or don’t come) with the wheel. Cautious, grumpy cats will probably need some kind of motivation and encouragement to figure out the purpose of spinning, so things like scratching post attachments, tunnels, integrated lights, or an appealing design can make a difference.
Complicated, over-designed objects can be hard to reach and properly clean. The sleeker the design, the easier it is to maintain good hygiene! Some specially made materials also make the cleaning process much easier as they only require occasional whipping, and they’re good to go. Look for light-weight, compact products that won’t give you a hard time moving around and scrubbing.
It doesn’t hurt to look into the purchase policy for the products when weighing the pros and cons. Some wheels offer a 30-day return policy or a money-back guarantee. Some brands offer payment options in installments. This can come in handy if your kitty decides the wheel is just not interesting enough.
Best cat wheels for 2021
This concise guide presents some of the top products available on the market. Our best choices are all completely safe and high-quality products. Based on your criteria and preferences, you can focus on the cat wheels that will best fit your cat’s needs.
One Fast Cat Wheel
- Brand: OneFastCat
- Model: Cat Exercise Wheel
- Size: Weight: 22 lbs, Height: 48 inches, Width: 46 inches, Depth: 11 inches
This highly-demanded cat wheel is all the rage right now! Made of 100 percent recyclable plastic, this nifty invention is easily portable and quickly assembled in any house space.
Due to its modern design, this wheel will fit nicely as a quirky furniture item. High-quality design and pet-friendly materials allow it to be cleaned with a hose or plain water and soap. Since it’s tall and bulky, customers mentioned that it’s best to install the wheel on hardwood floors or tiles to enable proper balance and safety.
Although it doesn’t come with additional features, the simplicity and straightforwardness make it so appealing and comfortable for cats.
The traction pads come in various colors and designs, so you can even make it stylish and colorful. What’s more, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if the product is sent back unused, in its original box.
All in all, sturdy and light-weight exercise wheel cats get obsessed with. Once a cat gets attached to One Fast Cat wheel, the possibilities for play and exploring never end!
- Portable and lightweight
- Easy cleaning
- Practical and intuitive to use
- Very affordable
- Maximum weight capacity: 25 lbs
GOPET Cat Wheel
- Brand: GOPET
- Model: Treadwheel
- Size: 19 x 42 x 45 inches ; 42 lbs
Although marketed as a treadwheel for small dogs, this fantastic device can be equally purposeful for cats. The sturdy construction allows it to withhold both energetic dogs and hyperactive cats, so if you live in a multi-pet household, this durable wheel is for you.
Unlike most exercise wheels, GOPET treadwheel comes with a detachable barred cover that conveniently snaps onto the wheel to ensure your pet runs safe and protected. As bulky as it seems, it is shipped pre-assembled, so you don’t need to do much before the use. Customers reviewed it as light-weight and easily portable.
Plus, it looks nice next to other cat furniture. The inside of the wheel is padded with a soft and comfortable cushion, perfect for longer runs.
- Versatile (suitable for both cats and dogs)
- Comes pre-assembled
- Protective wire cover
- Portable and light-weight
Neko Cat Exercise Wheel
- Brand: Neko-cat
- Model: cat exercise wheel (small/large)
- Material: Corrugated paper, sisal rope
- Size: 57x27x27, 2.1 lbs
Yes, this fantastic wheel is basically made of cardboard! Lighter than a child’s toy (2.1 lbs), this amazing cat wheel can be put basically anywhere. Don’t let its flimsy exterior fool you, as this is one stable and resistant piece of exercise equipment. It’s made of 100 percent recyclable, non-toxic materials and comes in two sizes: small and large.
This affordable cat wheel also features a free organic catnip. Its unique design with a resting board on top of the construction enables more than one cat to play and relax around the waterwheel.
The inside of the wheel is ribbed to provide stability and reduce slipperiness. A practical combination of a scratching post and a treadwheel, this exercise machine is all your cat will ever need to have fun, exercise, and chill.
The set-up is pretty easy and straightforward. Super light-weight, but smarty constructed to endure more than one cat using it at the same time. It’s suitable for cats under 25 lbs. Although not really a high-intensity workout machine for vigorous exercising, it’s a great plaything to keep your cats occupied with light to medium running pace.
- Completely recyclable, non-toxic materials
- Extremely light-weight, easily portable, and stored away
- Light to medium exercising
- Maximum weight capacity: 25lbs
PETRING PET Cat Wheel
- Brand: PETRING PET
- Model: cat exercise wheel
- Size: 47.24 x 13.14 x 49.6
This modern cat furniture will definitely fit nicely in any cat-loving home. It’s made from ABS material, reducing noise, ensuring safety and easy cleaning. The inside of the wheel is cover with a washable carpet material, great for scratching, running, or just plain lying.
The spacious wide wheel is comfortable for more cats to use at the same time. This affordable machine is easy to assemble and disassemble on your own. It comes with detachable protective panels if you worry about your cat’s safety and balance during running.
- Washable inner material
- ABS materials: reduced noise, easy cleaning
- Stylish and modern
- Removable side panels
Final thoughts: Which cat wheel should I opt for?
There’s no only one right answer to this question. When deciding on the right product for you and your cat, the most important thing is to check all the main criteria: the right size, price, purpose, quality, and other features mentioned above. We’ve made the choice simple and concise – your job is to make sure the final decision best fits your cat’s needs.