Let’s talk cat exercise wheels!
Are they safe?
A good buy?
If so, where on earth do you even get one?
Can you just build your own?
Find out all those answers and more in our guide!
Are Cat Exercise Wheels Safe?
Cat mouse wheel. Running wheel. Pet treadmill for cats.
Whatever you want to call them, there’s one very important question to ask before you even consider buying one.
Are cat exercise wheels safe?
Multiple pet experts weighed in on that question over at DVM 360. Here’s the gist:
Behavioral expert Dr. Lisa Radosta basically said that, depending on the model, they seem safe enough.
She went on to say, “If the cat is trained with positive reinforcement and chooses to perform this activity, it could be a great way to fight obesity and enrich the cat’s life.”
In other words, it has to be your cat’s idea to use one, so don’t force him onto the wheel.
Both pet pain experts agreed that they seem safe enough, with Dr. Robin Downing going to to say that she wished she’d thought of it.
So yes, I think we can agree that cat exercise wheels are safe as long as your cat wants to use it and we show a bit of common sense.
Let’s expand on that last part a bit and talk a few dos and don’ts for cat wheel safety.
- DO set it up and let your cat explore on his own.
- DON’T try to force him onto it.
- DO observe the weight limits on the wheel.
- DO reward or entice your cat with treats (in moderation) or catnip.
- DON’T use a laser pointer to entice him to use it, as some vets feel it can create OCD behavior in cats.
- DO set up the cat wheel on a flat surface with plenty of room around it.
I also recommend buying a wheel made especially for cats.
Even the largest ferret wheels are designed for lighter animals. Some may disagree, but I feel they’re just not a safe option.
While there aren’t many & they’re pricey, it’s worth spending the extra money on something that you know will be safer.
What about a Cat Tree with Exercise Wheel?
Are there any cat trees with exercise wheels? If so, are they also safe?
I saw this question pop up in a conversation about cat wheels and thought it was worth discussion.
Let’s start with the first half, can you buy a cat tree with an exercise wheel built in?
As far as I can find, no, and that’s a good thing. Cat wheels should only be placed on a flat and stable floor.
Theoretically, one could build a DIY cat tree with an exercise wheel.
You’d need to place the wheel on the bottom level directly on the floor, then build up around it, like this one.
Honestly, though, I’d just keep the exercise wheel and the cat tree as two separate things.
Now that we understand the safety concerns with a cat exercise wheel, let’s talk about how to get one.
We’ll start with the two that I found for sale, then go over a few DIY ideas.
FYI, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Best Cat Exercise Wheels for Sale
So, here’s where things get tricky. When I went in search of cat exercise wheels on all my usual shopping sites, I only found two.
I widened my search and discovered posts talking about the 7 best Bengal cat wheels, or the X best Maine Coon wheels, and so on.
Alas, most of those are either currently unavailable, only sold in the UK, or only have 1-star ratings (or all of the above).
One looks so unsafe that I won’t even mention it!
Long story short, in addition to the original two, I only found one more that I’d consider recommending.
1. One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel Review
As of now, the One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel appears to be the only hamster-style wheel made specifically for cats that you can actually find on Amazon.
Features & Pros
- Offers a rewarding and stimulating exercise experience for indoor cats.
- Can handle kitties up to 25lbs.
- Uses Generation 5 wheels with fewer parts and modified roller blade wheels for stability.
- Wheels are eco-friendly, made of 100% recycled plastic.
- EVA foam cushions your cat’s paws.
- Easy to clean with a wet rag, or hose it off if it gets really dirty.
- Challenging to assemble
- Not big enough for Maine Coons or other large breeds.
- Some customers complain that the pads wear out quickly.
- Others complain that it isn’t all that durable.
As long as your cat doesn’t exceed the 25lb weight limit, the One Fast Cat Wheel is a decent option.
For example, if you want a Sphynx cat wheel, you’d be just fine with it.
While some of the negative reviews are troubling, the majority of people are very happy with it.
Larger cats will either need the next option or a DIY cat wheel (more on that in a minute).
- The most rewarding training experience for you and your cat! We've seen everything from Persians to Tabby cats running on our wheel, while high energy breeds like Bengals and Sphynx tend to learn the easiest. Please do not buy this wheel if you are not willing to train your cat; some cats take to the wheel naturally, but others will require time to get accustomed to the wheel. In some cases it takes a full month for a cat to learn to walk or run on a wheel.
- These are Generation 5 wheels, featuring fewer parts and modified roller blade wheels for greater stability. They are constructed of 100% recycled plastics for a lightweight but sturdy design capable of supporting up to 25 lbs.
- The running surface uses EVA foam to cushion the cat's steps and prevent claws from catching. Wheels can be easily wiped down with a wet towel or hosed down for quick cleaning.
- Assembly is required for this wheel, and the completed product is large (48" diameter). Please review our assembly video online before purchasing to confirm that you will be able to put this item together. Less handy individuals may require the assistance of a friend or family member to complete assembly of the wheel.
- We accept returns on unused wheels only for up to 30 days after receipt of the order. The wheel must be sent back in the original box and the pads must be unused in order to receive a full refund.
2. The Wall Cat Wheel on Etsy
Along with the mass-produced wheel above, I found this one on Etsy. I can’t guarantee it’ll still be there when you go to buy it, though, as there’s only one left.
If this one is gone, check out the seller’s page, as they appear to add new wheels regularly once one gets sold.
Features & Pros
- Mounts on the wall, so it’s a bit more stable.
- Handmade and quite beautiful, looks like art on your wall.
- Made with wood and steel.
- It’s very quiet when in use.
- Large enough for pretty much all cat breeds
- Ships worldwide
- Mounts on the wall, so you need to install it.
- Takes up a lot of space
- Doesn’t ship free (it would be unreasonable to expect it to) and costs vary depend on where you live. They can be quite high.
If you have a fairly hefty budget and want something that’s as beautiful as it is practical, this is a stunning and highly rated option.
Want a Maine Coon cat wheel (or any of the larger breeds)? Then it’s the only “done for you” way to go, as the One Fast Cat wheel is too small.
3. Hoiru cat wheel
I did find one other cat exercise wheel for sale, the Hoiru cat wheel. However, it’s only available on Tuft + Paw.
I’ve never shopped through them before, so I’m not comfortable recommending them quite yet.
That said, they do have a good reputation from what I can tell and their products (Hoiru wheel included) are absolutely gorgeous.
Hoiru cat wheel features & pros
- Sturdy solid oak base.
- Carefully handcrafted with the best materials possible
- Beautiful neutral colors look nice in your home
- Felt material covers the inside for a comfy run
- Large enough for most cat breeds
- Easy to assemble
- Tuft + Paw donates a portion of their profits to helping homeless cats.
- Takes up a lot of space in your home
- Doesn’t ship free (however shipping is never more than $49)
- Not many reviews, so it’s hard to say what the overall consensus is.
Like I said, I just don’t know enough about this one to say whether or not I’d recommend it.
I only included it because I wanted you to have a third option.
If you don’t love any of these limited options, you do have one more: make your own.
DIY Cat Exercise Wheel for Large Cats
I’m not even going to begin to tell you how to build a DIY cat wheel, as I’m just not that crafty.
Seriously, I put my cat tree together with upside-down pieces, then cried because I had to take it apart and start all over. You do not want my advice on how to build cat furniture!
So, let me point you in the direction of people who are much better with tools than I’ll ever be.
Below are my favorite video tutorials for building your own DIY cat wheel.
1. DIY Cat Wheel on a Budget
This one is great because the entire goal was to create something that didn’t cost hundreds of dollars. It’s a fairly cheap cat wheel that doesn’t look, well, cheap.
2. Cat Wheel from Wood
If you love the look of the Hoiru cat wheel but don’t want to spend $1,000 on it, this tutorial will help you out!
3. Adam Savage’s Cat Wheel
Who better to help you build a cat wheel than the former Mythbuster’s host and set designer, Adam Savage?
4. Cardboard Cat Exercise Wheel
If you’ve got an itty bitty budget (or just don’t feel comfortable working with wood), you’ll want to check out this cardboard cat exercise wheel tutorial!
5. Recessed wall cat wheel
For the super duper handy among you, I present this insanely spectacular wall-recessed cat wheel DIY. When I win the lotto, I am so building a house with a cat room that includes one of these. 😀
There you have it, a fairly complete guide to cat exercise wheels. We’ll be expanding on the topic a bit more in the future, so if there’s anything you’d like to see, let us know below.
Do you have anything to add to our cat exercise wheels guide? Share below!
Last update on 2019-11-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API