A reader posted about their cat’s 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 chase, and she hates seeing them bored. It seemed like an ideal way to get indoor cat exercise.
It was interesting to learn that her boy cats loved it and would play on the cat wheel indoor happily, even without a toy, cat food, or treat incentive, while her female cat preferred to sit and 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.
All products featured on the site are carefully selected by the editor of Floppycats, Jenny Dean. In addition, we may earn a small commission when you purchase something through our affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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 and come from different cat breeds, they aren’t suitable for every cat. You know your cat better than anyone, and a good cat exercise wheel won’t come cheap, so it isn’t something every cat owner should buy.
However, some cats are energetic and will be even beyond their kitten years. Cats 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 a cat exercise wheel can be a valuable addition to their range of toys and a great feature exercise for them.
They do work in the same way as a hamster wheel. However, it would be best if you encouraged your cat to get used to it first. Using a cat toy to chase up the wheel track 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 – energetic cats will love to dash on their wheel and use up some of that stored energy.
DIY Cat Exercise Wheel Indoor Options
You could always search for detailed instructions and build one if you don’t want to buy a cat exercise wheel. However, you’ll need to be pretty handy to do so – they’re not the easiest items to put together if you aren’t good with tools.
First, 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 your materials and their price. For example, wood is usually strong enough, but you must work out how to bend the wood to make a cat wheel. Plastics can work but are harder to cut to shape.
The next step is you’ll need to add a surface for your cat to run on. Carpet off-cuts can be helpful here, but anything that provides grip will be fine.
I’ve kept these steps basic because it’s an extensive project to make your cat wheel, and it’s not for everyone.
Choose a Fast Cat Exercise Wheel Toy
Most cat wheels are relatively fast turning because your cat can run at a good pace. Therefore, you must pick one that will keep up with them. Otherwise, your cat will outrun it and end up falling off it all the time. It’s also going to keep them from being entertained.
A fast cat wheel will give them the freedom to run at their own pace and a good workout. So please read every cat wheel’s reviews to ensure it’s suitable.
You also want to buy a cat exercise wheel that’s big enough for your kitty. Not all cat wheels are suited to ragdolls, but not all ragdolls are suited to cat wheels. Check the measurements of any wheel you buy so your cat has plenty of room to run.
7 of the Best Cat Exercise Wheels:
Here are seven of the best constructed 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, meaning cats can easily climb in it from either side. The 47” diameter wheel is big enough for larger cats too.
It’s made from recycled plastics and weighs around 25 lbs., 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.
Penn-Plax Spin Kitty Cat Exerciser
The Penn-Plax Spin kitty wheel is much 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 those who are speedy runners, despite the manufacturer’s claims – your cat could quickly get ahead of itself and fall out.
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 a 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 cat tree with a built-in cat wheel. This wheel is smaller again at 20”, so it is only for kittens or smaller breeds, but with multiple levels and cat tree scratching posts built in, this could be an excellent all-in-one play and activity cat tree for your younger kitties.
The main wheel has a weight limit of 20lb, while the smaller wheel on the tree has a maximum limit of 15lb.
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 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 made to order. You can customize your cat wheel, too – choose a color, a vinyl print design, or even ask for a custom wheel for your cat.
Each wheel is built over two weeks before being tested by their 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. Unfortunately, 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, this could be a great option if you want an artistic wheel tailored to your kitty.
O Mer Design Cat Wheel
The O Mer Design cat wheel has some excellent features that make it a great choice. Chief among these is the wheel itself – it’s a single piece, so no assembly is required, and it always rotates smoothly and quietly. It’s made in the US from high-quality Baltic birch wood, so it is solid and sturdy.
The base doesn’t need any assembly either, making this the easiest cat wheel to put together. Just place the wheel into the base, and it’s ready. This also hides all the internal wheels, meaning it’s really safe for your cat.
The wheel is available in three sizes to suit all breeds and comes with carpet as standard. But the wheel is customizable, so if you want sisal, or your cat’s name, just ask.
If you have an overweight cat who loves to eat too much food, or who needs exercise or a larger breed that you want to give plenty of room to, a GoPet Treadwheel is an idea. Their main product line is marketed at dogs, but they have cat treadwheels that take inspiration from the dog design. So if you want a robust wheel 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 rigid rubber traction pad that can withstand your cat’s claws. In addition, 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 open wheels, 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.
PawHut Round Hamster-Wheel Cat Wheel
This PawHut Round Hamster-Wheel cat wheel is double-sided, with a soft loop-pile interior for comfort and a sisal lining on the outside shell of the wheel. This gives your kitty two surfaces to enjoy – a soft one inside the wheel for comfort and an exterior one they can scratch.
This gives your cat the option of enjoying a good run or lazing inside the wheel, or something satisfying to scratch on the outer edge, helping keep your furniture safe from their claws.
It’s, at best, a mid-sized cat wheel with a 29.5” diameter and a total height of 36.5” when you include the base. This means that the wheel is recommended for smaller cats weighing no more than 9 lbs – that’s important if you were planning on buying this for a Ragdoll cat, which is likely too large.
That base is durable and made from tough wood, which means the wheel won’t topple over, and it’s easy to clean – wipe down the wooden surfaces and give the carpet a quick vacuum. The base has a cute design, too, with cutouts of fish, and while it is sturdy, it is also hollow so that you can move the wheel around your home without too much effort.
PawHut Cat Treadmill with Natural Wood Grain
You can use this cat treadmill when your cat isn’t interested in running, preventing the wheel from spinning randomly, or if your kitty is just in the mood to enjoy the soft interior of the wheel without exercising.
That’s likely, as there is a plush cloth lining on the inside of the wheel which is very comfortable for your cat’s paws and can lead to them enjoying the wheel as a napping spot.
The wheel has a 30” diameter and, including the base, stands 37.5” tall, so it’s another wheel that is more suited to smaller cats weighing up to 9 lbs. In addition, it is relatively compact overall, with a width of just 14”, so it will easily slot into a room.
It won’t look out of place, thanks to the natural wood finish and the neutral grey cloth color that won’t clash with most décor choices in your home.
Training Your Cat to Use an Exercise Wheel
While some cats will take to an exercise wheel almost immediately, don’t be surprised if your kitty needs more encouragement. Even the most active cats may be unsure of this sizable new toy added to your home.
If your kitty is unsure of a cat wheel toy, you can try to entice them using a toy or a treat.
Feel free to take it slow. You could reward your cat with a treat just for putting a paw on or getting on and climbing off the wheel initially until your kitty gets used to it. If you choose a cat wheel with brakes, you could leave them on until they happily climb into the wheel.
Then, use the toy, food, or treat to tempt them into running. Hold your hand higher up the wall of the wheel, and your cat will want to chase it. They might get an initial shock when the floor underneath them begins to move! But then they should adjust to that relatively quickly.
It shouldn’t take too long for your cat to get comfortable using a wheel, and you won’t need to offer them treats. An active cat will likely enjoy using it once they understand how it works.
But if your cat still doesn’t seem to be a fan, you can keep encouraging them, but for some cats, even the best cat wheel and a load of treats won’t convince them to give it a shot. It all depends on the personality of your furry animal friend.
Be persistent, try to build cat confidence, but don’t force your cat onto a wheel if they really don’t like it. There are other options for exercise toys if your cat refuses to use a wheel for their entertainment.
Don’t forget to keep the cat water handy too.
Great Cat Exercise Wheels Summary:
A cat running wheel isn’t for everyone, but it can be a lot of fun for high-energy cats 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 ample 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 considered? Leave a comment with your thoughts on exercise wheels for cats.
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,