Last Updated on September 11, 2021 by Jenny
One of my readers posted about their cat exercise wheel on our Facebook page, and how much her cats (well, two out of three) enjoyed using it. I spoke to her about her cat wheel, which she said she’d bought because her cats love to play chase and she hates to see them bored.
It was interesting to learn that her boy cats loved it, and would play on the wheel happily even without a toy or treat incentive, while her female just preferred to sit at watch. She had the One Fast Cat exercise wheel and was very positive, which made me want to share some of the best cat exercise wheels you can buy.
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Why buy a running wheel?
A running wheel might seem like a strange toy for a cat – they tend to be the sort of thing you only see in a hamster cage. And because cats have such differing personalities, they aren’t right for every cat. You know your own cat better than anyone, and a good cat exercise wheel won’t come cheap, so they aren’t something that every cat owner should be buying.
However, some cats are energetic, and will be even beyond their kitten years. Cats that are full of energy but don’t have a way to burn it off will become frustrated or bored, and nobody wants a bored kitty. So an exercise wheel can be a useful addition to their range of toys.
They essentially do work just in the same way as a hamster wheel. However, you might have to encourage your cat to get used to it first. Using a toy for them to chase up the wheel will get them used to the movement, so they can see if they enjoy it. Before long, you probably won’t need the extra stimulus at all – energetic cats will love to dash on their wheel and use up some of that stored energy.
DIY cat exercise wheel options
If you don’t want to buy a cat exercise wheel, you could always build one. You’ll need to be fairly handy to do so – they’re not the easiest items to put together if you aren’t good with tools.
Firstly, you’ll need to choose whether you have an open wheel or one with a closed side. A closed side will be easier to make, since you can use the center of the wheel as an axis for it to spin on. For an open wheel you’ll need to build a base with castors to allow the wheel to spin in place.
You’ll also need to think carefully about the materials you use. Wood is usually strong enough, but you need to work out how you’ll bend the wood to make a wheel. Plastics can work but are harder to cut to shape.
Then, you’ll need to add a surface for your cat to run on. Carpet off-cuts can be useful here, but anything that provides grip will be fine.
I’ve kept these steps basic because it’s an extensive project to make your own cat wheel, and it’s not for everyone. Leave a comment if you want to know more on making a DIY cat wheel.
Choose a fast cat exercise wheel
Most cat wheels are fairly fast turning, because your cat will be able to run at a good pace. It’s important you pick one that will keep up with them, otherwise your cat is going to outrun it and simply end up falling off it all of the time. It’s also not going to keep them entertained.
A fast cat wheel will give them the freedom to run at the pace they want to, and give them a good workout. So read the reviews of every cat wheel to make sure it’s suitable.
You also want to make sure to buy a cat exercise wheel that’s big enough for your kitty. Not all wheels are suited to ragdolls, but then not all ragdolls are suited to wheels. Check the measurements of any wheel you buy, so that your cat has plenty of room to run.
6 of the Best Cat Exercise Wheels:
Here are six of the best cat wheels you can buy for your energetic cat.
One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel
The One Fast Cat wheel is the model that my reader posted about on our Facebook page. It’s an open wheel, which means cats can climb into it from either side with ease. The 47” diameter wheel is big enough for larger cats too.
It’s made from recycled plastics and weighs around 25lb, so it’s sturdy but it’s light enough to move around if you need to. It does arrive in a small box and needs to be assembled, but it’s designed to be quick and easy.
The surface is made from a closed-cell EVA foam, which should stop cats’ claws from getting stuck. This means no accidents as your cat runs naturally. In terms of cleaning, the wheel can be hosed down and left to dry.
It’s available in three colors as standard – black, cheetah print or snow leopard print. Replacement traction pads are also available as, over time, the cover will be worn down by your cat’s claws digging into it.
Purchase One Fast Cat Wheel.
Penn-Plax Spin Kitty Cat Exerciser
The Penn-Plax Spin kitty wheel is a lot smaller than others on this list, with a diameter of 29.5” compared to around 48” for most others. So it’s not suitable for larger cats or for those who are exceptionally fast runners, despite the claims of the manufacturer – your cat could easily get ahead of itself and fall out.
Both the interior and outside of the wheel are lined with sisal carpet, which has two benefits. Firstly, it’s easy to clean with a vacuum. Secondly and more importantly for your cat, it provides good grip and doubles up as a scratching toy, so they can burn off energy and satisfy that scratching itch in one go.
There is a second option with Penn-Plax – they offer a tree with a built-in wheel. This wheel is smaller again at 20”, so is really only for kittens or smaller breeds, but with multiple levels and scratching posts built in, this could be a good all-in-one play and activity tree for your younger cats.
The main wheel has a weight limit of 20lb, while the smaller wheel on the tree has a maximum limit of 15lb.
Purchase the Penn-Plax Spin Kitty Wheel on Amazon.
The Maclaw Wheel
The Maclaw Wheel is a more bespoke option made by Bengal cat breeders in the UK. They also don’t provide shipping internationally but are happy for you to arrange your own courier option. So instantly this makes them quite expensive for anyone in the US.
However, they’re worth including on this list because of the care and craft that goes into every wheel. These are not mass produced items, but quality wooden and plastic wheels that are made to order. You can customize your wheel too – choose a color, a vinyl print design, or even ask for a completely custom wheel made for your cat.
Each wheel is then built over a period of two weeks, before being tested by their own Bengal cats to ensure the highest quality before being dismantled and prepped for shipping. The rubber running surface is durable and easy to keep clean, while the wooden structure gives a springboard effect, which cats love when sprinting.
It’s a 48” wheel, so large enough for bigger cats, and its wide running surface could allow two smaller cats to run side by side. This is not an open wheel – the closed side is where your custom design will be added, so cats can only jump on from one side. However if you want an artistic wheel that is tailored to your kitty, this could be a great option.
Purchase The Maclaw Wheel
The G5 Ferris Cat Wheel
The G5 Ferris wheel is manufactured in Malaysia, and is sold through various distributors worldwide, often under a different name. The wheel is made from an ABS plastic which is solid and secure, with an inner diameter of 48” that is similar in size to the other cat wheels already mentioned in this list.
The manufacturers claim that most cat breeds will take to the wheel with some training, and that the wheel will never tip over or derail if you put it together correctly. It’s also claimed to be easy to assemble with no mallets needed, and it’s available in five contemporary colors – black, pink, yellow, blue or green. The outer wheel is always white which maintains a modern look.
It’s another open wheel and it uses 6 skatewheels for a smooth spinning motion that can keep up with faster cats but also not intimidate younger kittens by rolling too quickly without pressure. It’s designed for cats weighing up to 25lb/11kg so even obese cats can enjoy the wheel for some exercise.
Purchase G5 Ferris Wheel.
GoCat Cat Wheel
There’s not a lot to say about the GoCat Cat Wheel that hasn’t been covered in the above list already. It’s a very similar design to the other open wheels, with a white plastic wheel on a sturdy wooden base and customizable color options for the outer wheel.
It is designed as a cat treadmill with sealed ball bearing rollers, so it should start quickly and stop as it needs to, make it safe and simple for your cat to jump onto or to climb off once they’re finished. It’s strong, but lightweight enough to easily move around your home.
It’ll handle cats weighing up to 25lb/11kg or less, and is shipped with the base fully intact and the wheel only needing minor assembly.
If you’re looking for an open cat wheel that’s made in the US, the GoCat wheel may be of interest.
Purchase the GoCat Cat Wheel.
If you have an overweight cat that needs exercise, or just a larger breed that you want to give plenty of room, a GoPet Treadwheel could be idea. Their main product line is actually marketed at dogs, but they do have cat treadwheels that take inspiration from the dog design. So, if you want a robust wheel that is designed for animals larger than your standard cat, they could be perfect.
These super-sturdy cat wheels are made from metal and plastic, and use a tough rubber traction pad that can withstand your cat’s claws. They use self-lubricating sleeve bearings as opposed to cheap ball bearings that can be noisy, and there is no assembly required – the wheel is ready to use straight out of the box.
They are not an open wheel, so cats can only enter from one side, but they are smooth which allows both kittens and cats to enjoy them. And because they’re made with metal, plastic and rubber, they’re easy to wipe down and keep clean.
Purchase GoPet Treadwheel.
In summary of cat exercise wheels:
A cat running wheel isn’t for everyone but they can be a lot of fun for cats that are high-energy and who like to run around, especially if they are indoor cats who can otherwise cause havoc. The wheels on this list are sturdy and reliable and should offer plenty of space for even adult cats to get a good workout. Some are suitable for multiple cats too, as long as your pet isn’t too chunky.
Do you own a cat wheel for your furry feline, or is it a cat toy you’ve never even considered? Leave a comment with your thoughts on exercise wheels for cats.