Can you tell if your cat is actually fluffy or just fat?
I know it’s hard to tell with those furballs.
However, if you focus on how active your cat is, you might be able to crack that code.
The fact is:
Indoor cats don’t get the amount of exercise their species need to stay healthy, which means they end up with an unhealthy amount of fat in their body. That can lead to obesity (shockingly common in pet cats), which in turn leads to numerous health issues and behavioral problems.
Now, you know there is no way you can limit the amount of food your cat eats. A hungry cat can bring the entire house down. So, dietary limitations are out of the question.
What you can do is provide them a healthy and enjoyable dose of indoor exercise.
That is exactly what exercise wheels for cats are meant for.
I know a cat exercise wheel is a fairly new addition to the cat’s supply, and you might have a lot of questions in mind. I would try my best to answer most of those questions along the way – or you can skip to the guide first to get a clear idea of what it is and why your cat needs it.
Now, let’s begin with the best exercise wheel for cats and also the first one ever introduced:
The Best Exercise Wheel for Cats
My top favorite and that of many other pet parents I know is a wheel that is also the first-ever exercise wheel for cats. It was a result of a Kickstarter campaign started by someone who understood the importance of physical activities for cats.
Not only did he raise enough money to make his dream come true, but he has also sold more than 20,000 sold. So, his brainchild, ONE Fast Cat exercise wheel is a product that has been around the longest. It has more reviews than any other cat exercise wheel so far.
And it checks all the boxes for the best exercise wheel for cats:
- It is big enough for an average house cat
- Stable and sturdy base to prevents accidents
- Wide tread for comfortable flooring
- Lightweight and easy to assemble
- High-quality material that is safe for cats
- Safe and scratch-resistant EVA foam
- Super easy to clean
Does it have any shortcomings?
Yes, and I will reveal those in a more comprehensive review right after my complete list.
7 Best Cat Exercise Wheels for Cats
- Best Overall: One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel
The first and foremost cat exercise wheel with thousands of great reviews
- Runner Up: Cat in Motion
A wheel design for maximum spine comfort and longer workout
- Best Multipurpose: V Just Cat Exercise Wheel
This one is a one-of-a-kind, three-in-one exercise wheel that is also a scratching post and climbing tree
- Best Heavier Cats: GoPet Treadwheel
For cats that are too heavy, this matted metallic wheel can be the safest option
- Best Wall-mounted: Pet Furniture, Cat Climbing Frame
Beautiful wall-mounted wooden exercise wheel for cats of all ages
- Best for Kittens: Mishap Pet Furniture, Cat Climbing Frame
Let your cats play around this fashionable climbing frame and learn to run the wheel
- Best High-end: The Catswall Catwheel II
High-quality material and a super sturdy base are just two things that make it better
Best Overall: One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel
The creator invested a lot of time designing the first cat wheel, and it shows.
It seems to be the perfect exercise wheel in terms of build quality, practicality, and safety. The running surface is wide enough for an adult cat and most cats seem to enjoy the run. I like how the wheel stands on modern and stylish roller blade wheels that allow for easy and smooth movement without much friction.
Let’s take a look at the key features:
- Made from lightweight, recyclable plastic of highest quality
- Easy to assemble and move around due to a lighter weight
- A sturdy base with rollerblades to support the smooth operation
- Closed-cell EVA foam that prevents claws on the running surface
- The diameter is 48 inches
- The base is 34×1 inches
- Supports cats up to 25 lbs
- Super easy to assemble
- Lightweight yet sturdy
- Can be placed on any flooring or carpet
- Good value for money
- Easy to clean with a damp cloth
- The fact that speed cannot be adjusted makes it a little difficult to train cats
- Isn’t completely silent – you and your cats will take some time to get used to the sound
Best Runner-Up: Cat in Motion
Cat in Motion looks like a visual and technical upgrade on One Fast Cat.
In the first glance, both look eerily similar but g a little lower and you will see the difference in the base. Cat in motion has a different mechanism. If your cat somehow manages to topple other wheels over, this one is definitely worth a try.
There are many other differences as well. An overview of key features will help you understand how the two products differ and compare. While this is a runner up for me based on how my cats react to it, some might see this one as a winner.
Key Features include:
- Made of extremely lightweight, high-quality plastic
- Hidden ball bearing design
- Bigger Diameter to support your cat’s spine
- Running area lined with scratch-resistant EVA foam
- Not one but two rods for a more stable base
- Dimension: 131 x 31 x 144 cm
- Weight: 26 lbs (12 kgs)
- Can support an average adult cat
- Comes in four different colors
- Extremely lightweight yet stable construction
- Less likely to wobble or topple over
- Larger diameter makes it more comfortable for cats
- Easy to clean
- Doesn’t make a lot of noise
- Assembly can be a hassle
- Can be a bit too fast for cats too young or too old
- On the pricier side
Best Multipurpose: V Just Cat Exercise Wheel
I have included this one in the list because it really helped me train my kittens on the wheels. It is small, but it is a multiple purpose exercise wheel that can easily double as a climbing tree and scratch post for the kittens.
Despite the size, I have around two to three kittens playing around with it at any given time. One of them even likes to sleep on it. It comes in three sizes and the largest one is the only one suitable for kittens.
Let’s take a look at the key features:
- Made of Eco-friendly, recycled corrugated cardboard
- Serves as a climbing tree, scratch post, and exercise wheel
- Portable and easy to assemble within minutes
- Dimensions: 73 x 36 x 70 cm
- Suitable for cats under 16 pounds
- Great for getting your cats accustomed to an exercise wheel
- Lightweight and easy to assemble without help
- Kittens spend more time around this wheel
- An eco-friendly product
- The wheel doesn’t exactly move a lot
- Since it is made of corrugated cardboard, it won’t last long
- Not meant for adult cats
- Noise-free (except when your kitties are scratching it)
Best for Heavier Cats: GoPet Treadwheel
I am not a huge fan of metal wheels but I find them sturdier for cats that are a little on the heavier side. So far, one of the best metal exercise wheel I have found is the GoPet Treadwheel. It is meant for smaller dogs and bigger cats alike.
Another reason for to recommend this for your cats is its brakes. They allow you to adjust the speed as per your cat’s liking.
Here is an overview of its features:
- Made of high-quality metal with matted surface
- Comes with a removable door
- Comes with optional brakes to adjust the speed
- Comfortable running surface matte
- Dimensions: 40″ D x 12″ W
- Weight: 42 pounds
- UV resistant – good for both indoor and outdoor use
- Good for pets weighing up to 25 lbs
- Comes pre-assembled
- Allows you to adjust the speed by increasing friction
- Best for fat and obese cats
- Suitable for households with cats and dogs
- Can be placed outdoors as well
- Can be noisy
- Heavy on the pocket
- The training door isn’t safe for cats
- Can topple if not placed against a wall
Best Wall-Mounted: Mishap Pet Furniture, Wall Mounted
If aesthetics is something you desire, it can’t get any better than an exercise wheel that looks just like a part of your furniture.
In my humble opinion, this one looks like a high-end decorative item, probably because it is beautifully carved from wood. It doesn’t have a base to stand on. You’d rather have to fix it to the wall for a more stable function without wobble or topple.
- Made of high-quality natural E1 pinewood board
- Wall-mounted bracket to fix the running wheel
- Easy installation
- Scratch-resistant EVA foam
- Dimension: 80 x 80 cm
- Can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth
- Suitable for an average adult cat and kittens
- An aesthetically-pleasing design
- Wall mounting prevents unnecessary movement
- Scratch-free and easy to clean
- Your cat must be able to jump before it can use this wheel
- You cannot move it around too often
Best for Kittens: Mishap Pet Furniture, Cat Climbing Frame
Now, we have another wooden cat exercise wheel that also looks absolutely amazing, except that it is not wall mounted.
Aesthetics aside, there are several aspects that make this product more preferable for kittens, or you can say more enjoyable.
First of all, it looks. My little curios ones were intrigued by the kitten shaped cut outs, and they spent quite a few time investigating their new toy. That, I believe, made them comfortable inside the wheel and it was easier for me to train them without scaring the away.
Let’s see what we have here:
- Made of high-quality pinewood plates
- The material is sturdy and scratch-resistant
- The outer and inner surface of the wheel is covered with jute rope to enhance grip and durability
- A sturdy wooden base for stability
- Diameter: 80 cm
- Dimensions: 96 x 46.5 x 27 cm
- Easy to clean with a damp cloth
- Can support an average adult cat
- Beautiful wooden design with a luxurious appeal
- You can place it on any hard floor or carpet
- Suitable for kittens who are just learning
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Slightly heavy to move around
Best High-end: The Catswall Catwheel II
Are you wondering why we don’t have a budget-friendly option?
They don’t exist!
What does exist is a cat exercise wheel that costs almost double the other wheels.
The questions are: Is it worth it?
From the first look, The Catswall Catwheel II does look impressive. It looks like an item you would find in an Apple Store. Looks like it was designed by Tim Cook himself. Elegant and simple.
Let’s see how it fares in functionality:
- High-Quality build material: MDF board and PVC
- A simple, clean, and stable base
- No visible wheels and rods in the base
- No wheel shaft drive
- Lined with easy to wipe mesh
- Decent wheel size: 48-inch
- Dimensions: 35.43″(L) X 11.97″(W) X 10.32″(H)
- Comes in two trendy colors
- It is one of the most stable wheels you will find
- Operates without making noticeable noise
- The design is very appealing to people who prefer modern and minimalist
- Seems like it requires too much energy to spin – which can be a turn off for a lot of cats
- Extremely expensive
- Assembly isn’t too easy
Cat Exercise Wheel: Buying Guide
Exercise wheels for cats is a particularly new concept. I don’t know why it took so many years for someone to come up with an effective indoor exercise option for cats.
Anyhow, I am glad that someone did – But we are still a little short on good options.
While every manufacturer claims to offer the best cat exercise wheel, the choice isn’t that simple. Most products out there are quite heavy on the pocket, so you need to make sure you are making the right decision, to begin with.
I have prepared this guide will help you understand why your cats need an exercise wheel and how you can find the right one for them.
The Natural Instinct
I know I keep talking about how cats are wild by nature. This fact is the key to understanding the needs and requirements of your cats. In nature, cats are hunters, which means they are extensively active as well.
It won’t be wrong to say that staying active is a natural instinct for them. In the wild, cats hunt birds and animals that are exceptionally fast. Aside from stealth, there is a lot of running and chasing involved.
Come to think of it, the instant is quite evident in younger cats. Ever noticed how kittens can keep on playing without a pause? It is actually healthy for them.
According to PetMD, an average house cat needs at least 10 to 15 minutes of physical activity that can stimulate their natural instinct.
Unfortunately, our homes lack exercise opportunities for our furry companions. We love to pamper them, serve them. We don’t let them out too often or let them hunt.
Consequently, nature’s most ferocious predators fall prey to a lazy lifestyle.
Dangers of a Lazy Lifestyle
While the luxurious lifestyle sounds fitting for the furry master, lack of activities has serious implications on their health.
Here are some of the health issues that may arise from lack of exercise for your cat:
I have said it before and I will say it gain. A fat cat isn’t a fluffy cat. When a cat is overweight, it means it is unable to burn the right amount of calories. As the fat percentage in your cat’s body increases beyond a healthy level, the cat becomes more susceptible to diabetes, arthritis, heart and liver diseases, and breathing problem.
Increased weight and lack of muscle engagement can both contribute to arthritis in cats. Arthritis is actually very painful for the furry ones. Moreover, it can render your cat unable to actually engage in activities. Hence, a vicious cycle that keeps adding to the list of health issues.
You might think that your cat is loving the lazy, luxurious life – but it can actually be quite depressing for it. With a lack of activities to indulge in, your cat can easily get bored and depressed. It is no surprise that a lack of physical activity can also disrupt their sleep, further adding to the stress.
Cats are supposed to be active, and when they aren’t there is a lot of pent up energy in them. This pent up energy can be projected in a negative way in the form of bad behavior. No wonder cats that aren’t active are often aggressive. They are more likely to scratch your furniture and carpets.
That said, I believe that a lazy lifestyle leaves a cat unprepared to face any form of risk.
Think about it:
Cats are curious by nature. They often get caught in accidents, even around the house. They need speed and agility to get away without losing a whisker.
As a pet parent, you owe them a healthier lifestyle that involves regular exercise. Exercise wheel for cats might just be the right option.
Cat Exercise Wheel: How Does it Work?
The concept of an exercise wheel for cats is the same as a hamster wheel or a dog treadmill:
Provide your pet with and enjoyable physical activity with minimal mental stress.
Unlike most cat exercise or training solutions, an exercise wheel doesn’t demand too much mind work that can be frustrating for some cats. All it takes is running at a comfortable pace for as long as the cat can enjoy. Many cats get so used to the activity that they would voluntarily go back to the wheel from time to time.
Safety and Effectiveness
Before you buy a training wheel for your cat, it is important to know whether it is right for your cat or not.
A training wheel for cat is safe and effective for almost every cat. It is good not just for the cats that are lazy but also the cats that are over-energetic. If you don’t want them to run around the house and ruin your furniture all the time, a wheel will let them focus their energies on a healthier activity.
An exercise wheel may not be the best option for very young kittens, frail elderly cats, or cats with painful arthritis.
Benefits of Exercise Wheels for Cats
Cat exercise wheel is a simple, safe, yet effective exercise machine with lots of benefits for your cat:
Running is just as healthy for cats as it is for you. It helps them burn a lot of calories and get rid of excess fat. If it isn’t safe for your cat to go out and run around in the yard, an exercise wheel is a safer and effective option.
Just 10 to 15 minutes on the wheel can help a cat burn enough calories to prevent obesity and diseases that stem from them.
Agility, Flexibility, Mobility
Running is an exercise that can engage all the important muscles in a cat’s body. It will improve their stamina, speed, and skills.
Mood and Behaviour Management
When you engage your cat in an enjoyable and stress-free activity, you will notice a significant improvement in mood and a noticeable decrease in aggression.
Same goes for depression. Your cat will be less bored, less depressed as a wheel can work as an effective stress reliever.
Not to mention, the time you spend training your cat with the wheel can help you build a stronger bond with the pet. The cats really enjoy when their “hoomans” engage with them during their play time.
Factors to Consider
I know all those wheels look quite similar – but there is a reason I have my favorites. Also, there is a reason some costs more than the others.
Here are some of the key factors that distinguish one cat exercise wheel from another:
Training wheels for cats come in different sizes. Most manufacturers offer different size option. You need to find one that is according to your cat” size. However, keep in mind that dimension and diameter aren’t the only attributes to consider.
A wheel should be big and sturdy enough to entertain a cat weighing around 25 lbs to 30 lbs.
Four options I have come across so far are plastic, metal, wood, and cardboard.
I personally prefer plastic because it is lightweight, but if your cat is prone to allergies metal and wood are safer bets. Also, the material of the wheel alone isn’t important. Take a look at the material lining the running surface. EVA foam is so far the most comfortable and safest option in that case.
Very few vendors provide any information on how much noise their cat exercise wheels make. It’s probably because most of them are noisy. The problem with noisy wheels is that it can scare away most cats and training gets a little too tough.
The speed is the default for most wheels and depends on your cat. Yes, it is possible for your cat to run too fast and get scared. So, if your cat doesn’t have the weight to provide some friction, find a wheel with brakes that allow you to adjust the speed.
Training Your Cat with Exercise Wheel
You can’t just bring in a wheel and expect your cat like it.
Since these wheels are huge, many cats are actually scared. They won’t even go near it, especially if they have seen it spinning. Even if they aren’t afraid, it is highly likely that your cats won’t like the idea of running at all.
Relax! It takes some time, and that time varies from cat to cat.
Active breeds such as Savannahs, Egyptian Maus, Russian Blues, Siamese, Toygers, and Maine Coons are likely to train quick and easy. With other breeds such as Persian, you will have to be patient.
You can try the following tips to get your cat on the wheel:
- Sprinkle some catnip on the wheel to attract your cat
- Offer your cat a treat every time it uses the wheel
- Place your cat’s favorite toy on the wheel
- You can also use a laser pointer to get your kitty on the wheel
Helping your cat stay active is part of good healthcare for your pet. If you are pampering it with good food, delicious treats, and healthy supplements then you need to engage them in exercise.
An exercise wheel will help your furball burn all the calories it needs to burn without leaving the safe confines of your home. Regular running will have a positive impact on your cat’s physical and mental health. It will be less boring and more well-behaved, making constructive use of all the pent-up energy.
In short, with a wheel in the house, your cat will be healthy and happy. Most importantly, you will know for certain that your fur baby is fluffy, not fat.