When does it make sense to get a cat wheel for your cat? Which cat wheel is right for your cat? And what’s the best way to get your cat used to running on a cat wheel?

Let it be known: a cat is not a hamster! So does it even make sense to get a cat wheel for your cat? Or is it just another superfluous accessory that won’t make your cat happy and only benefits cat wheel manufacturers? An exercise wheel for cats and any other four-legged animal also takes up much more space in your living room than a small wheel for tiny mammals. Where would you even put a wheel for your cat?

What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of cat wheels and which one is right for your particular cat?

Advantages and disadvantages of an exercise wheel for cats

How exactly would your cat benefit from having a cat wheel? Well, while we two-legged creatures have treadmills, our four-legged friends have exercise wheels. In both cases, the device is used as a home trainer, that is, as a way of going running without having to go outside. This kind of equipment lets cats and humans run kilometre after kilometre indoors on a type of belt or wheel that moves mechanically underfoot at a pace determined by the runner themselves. Still, what exactly are the advantages and/or disadvantages of offering cats the opportunity to get some exercise on a cat wheel?

Advantages of a cat wheel

An exercise wheel for cats has some great advantages, especially for cats with no access to the outdoors. Why? Basically, a cat wheel allows cats to get a lot of movement indoors. This is great for the physical fitness of all indoor cats. While outdoor cats have almost infinite space to move around in, the living area of indoor cats is limited. Exercise is a great thing for cats, not only because it challenges and sharpens all their senses, but also because it stimulates their metabolism, builds up muscles and strengthens their cardiovascular system. In other words, more movement makes cats both healthier and more balanced.

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Disadvantages of the cat wheel

Are there any disadvantages to having a cat wheel? Like everything in life, there are potential downsides even to cat wheels. In this case, it’s not the functioning or effectiveness of the device itself that causes the disadvantage; instead, it’s the external circumstances. What makes your cat tick? Is your cat even going to be open to trying a cat wheel or are they going to disregard it and leave it completely unused? Do you have enough space in your home for such a large piece of cat furniture? Where can you put it? And, finally, high-quality cat wheels can be a real drain on your wallet. These and other things are issues you should consider before buying a cat wheel.

Does it make sense to purchase a cat wheel for your home?

Is it a good idea to get a cat wheel to use in your home? Well, that depends on your particular cat, but also on what you want to achieve. How much do you want to spend on your pet’s well-being? Some cats will run several kilometres on their cat wheel every day, whereas others will be completely bored. No one can predict how your cat will react to the wheel. That being said, however, as soon as you’ve successfully integrated a cat wheel into your home, it can be a wonderful addition that does your cat a world of good. Still, a cat wheel will never be a substitute for your cat’s other activities or for the playtime they have with you!

Finding the right cat wheel

How do I figure out which cat wheel is best for my cat? These days, retail pet stores offer a huge selection of furniture for cats. Basically, there’s nothing out there you can’t buy! But don’t forget that cat furniture is made for the human beings who buy it, and that those human beings will likely buy furniture they like and equipment that fits into their living environment. Unfortunately, these purchases aren’t always functional or ideal for the actual cat. Which cat wheel is appropriate for your species of cat? What kind of wheel will actually fit their needs? Which will actually work and isn’t just an eye-catcher? The following are some things you should pay special attention to when choosing a wheel:

  • Size
  • Material
  • Safety
  • Noise level

What size cat wheel should you get your cat?

What size should a cat wheel be? Exercise wheels for cats come in different sizes. The diameter of the wheel should fit the size of your cat. How tall is your cat? Just measure your cat’s shoulder height from the front paws to the shoulder blade. For smaller to medium-sized adult cats, the exercise wheel should have a minimum diameter of 140 cm. For larger cat breeds, it shouldn’t be less than 150 cm.

REMINDER: The bigger your cat, the bigger the cat wheel! Why?                       

Wheels that are too small can cause physical harm and damage your cat’s health!

What material should the cat wheel be made of?

What material should your cat wheel be made of? The body of the cat exercise bike and the surface on which your cat actually runs can be made of a number of different materials, including metal, synthetic material, foam, wood and cardboard. To ensure that your cat feels comfortable on the cat wheel, it should be made of materials that fit the natural needs of your cat. First and foremost, that means it should be made of high-quality materials that contain no chemicals. And stay away from any of those artificial add-ons that are often used – they’re not good for your cat.

Cat wheels made of wood

What about a wooden cat wheel? The fitness equipment you purchase for your kitty doesn’t have to be made of plastic; it can also be made of an ecological material like wood. However, wood isn’t always just wood. When choosing an exercise wheel, make sure the wood comes from sustainable forestry. It should also be high-quality and not chemically treated.

Cat wheels made of cardboard

Cat wheels made of cardboard are also an option. These “cardboard companions” are likely to be more affordable, too. In terms of stability, they can withstand quite a bit, provided they’re made of high-quality materials, specifically a type of hard cardboard that will last a long while. As far as external influences are concerned, however, wood is many times more resistant over time. In other words, in the long run, a wooden cat wheel will probably be more worthwhile.

Freestanding or wall-mounted cat wheel?

Should you fix your cat wheel to the wall or set it up in varying spots in your home? It depends first and foremost on your living space. A fixed installation on a wall will save space. But if you get a freestanding cat wheel, you won’t have to fix it to a specific spot; instead, you can use it in other rooms and on different floors in your home. Either way, no matter which one you choose, you should always make sure your cat wheel is set up securely and isn’t going to slip or tip when your cat starts running on it.

Which cat wheel is quiet?

How should a cat wheel be equipped so that the noise level remains bearable when the cat is on it? The thing to keep in mind here is the following: the less resistance, the less noise. A bearing with balls or rollers will ensure that the cat wheel turns nice and quietly. It will reduce the rolling resistance and also dampen the noise level. And don’t forget the carpet on the treadmill: it will ensure that your cat can find its footing easily on the belt and that its running will be discreet.

Should you buy a new or used cat wheel?

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Should you choose a brand-new or second-hand cat wheel? Should you purchase or just rent one? The question to ask yourself here is: Would you prefer to own your cat wheel or just borrow it? First and foremost, of course, the decision to buy depends on your budget. Can you afford the expense? How much are you willing to spend on your cat’s indoor exercise? Are you willing to invest a large sum in one go? After all, a proper training device can cost a lot of money! A few hundred dollars or euros can really drain your household budget.

Buying a new cat wheel

Before you buy a new cat wheel, you should take your time, look at consumer reports and compare prices.¹ Why? It’s possible to find even high-quality cat wheels on sale at bargain prices at particular times and at certain shops or specialist dealers. Plus the sales prices for one and the same wheel can vary greatly from dealer to dealer. It’s worth checking the market thoroughly before buying a cat wheel, just to get an overview of the prices.

¹Source: VGL Publishing AG, Vergleich.org (18 Aug.2023): „Katzenlaufrad Vergleich 2023“, online at Katzenlaufrad Test & Vergleich » Top 9 im August 2023, accessed 21 Aug. 2023

Buying a used cat wheel

You can also buy a used cat wheel. There are specialist dealers and private individuals out there who offer second-hand furniture for cats. Or you can visit online platforms that offer second-hand goods and/or refurbished products. Check the delivery and return conditions before buying. If it’s a relatively new cat wheel, it may even still have a manufacturer’s warranty for a while.

Cat wheel for rent or loan

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Cat wheels are also available for rent or loan. If you want to test whether your cat will even use an exercise wheel in the first place, you can rent one for a specific period of time, likely for a fee. The advantage of renting or borrowing is that you can test different cat wheels before making a final decision.

Tip: If you’re not sure whether your kitty will use the cat wheel, you should try out an inexpensive alternative first.

Build your own cat wheel

Have you looked at the cat wheels that are on sale online and in shops and not yet found one you like? Maybe they don’t fit your budget or your home furnishings? No problem! If you’re good with your hands, you can also build a cat wheel yourself. If you decide to build your own cat wheel, you have two options: you can either buy a kit with prefabricated parts you assemble at home yourself, or you can build your kitty’s fitness equipment completely on your own. In the latter case, everything is up to you: draw up the construction plan, select the materials, cut the components to size and then fit them all together.

Prefabricated cat-wheel kits

Pre-fab cat wheel kits are available in standard or special versions. If you choose a special version, the parts will be made especially for you and you may have to wait a little longer for the kit to be delivered. After the kit has been delivered, it’s up to you to assemble it. Take a look at the parts first and unpack them. What goes where? There should be assembly instructions² that clearly explain each individual step. All parts should be labelled, making it easy to put together all by yourself in a specific order.

²²Source: TrittauCrafts (©2021): „Katzenlaufräder“, online at Bauanleitung Katzenlaufrad (trittau-crafts.com) accessed 21 Aug. 2023

Building your own cat wheel

Have you decided to build a cat wheel all by yourself?
You don’t have to be a master craftsman to do this. If you don’t have two left hands, and if you already have some experience building furniture, you might even enjoy building your own cat wheel. What materials do you need for your wheel? Do you have the necessary tools to build such a device? First make a list of everything you need and then allow enough time to complete the project from start to finish.

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³Source: “Helden der Werkstatt“(27 Sept. 2019): „Wir bauen ein Laufrad für unsere Katze“ (German only) online at. 🐱 🔥 Wir bauen ein Laufrad für unsere Katze (Katzenlaufrad) – YouTube accessed 21 Aug. 2023

Getting your cat used to its new cat wheel

So you’ve set up your new cat wheel and it’s ready to go. But what do you do if your cat keeps its distance and shows no real interest in the new “thing”? Whenever you make a new addition to your household – whether it’s a cat flap, a new scratching post or another animal – some cats will be very cautious at first. But how do you get your cat used to the wheel? First of all, make sure the wheel is fixed in place and doesn’t turn yet. Then playfully lure your cat onto the treadmill. A fishing rod or your favourite toy can help. If your cat is already “clicker trained”, you can use the clicker to get them used to the wheel. And if they actually like running on the new bike, they’ll do it by themselves after that.

FAQs – Cat wheels

Is a cat wheel an important item for indoor cats?

A cat wheel can ensure that indoor cats get more exercise and movement. This is great for their physical fitness, especially because indoor cats have a more limited living space than outdoor cats.

What types of cat wheels are there?

Cat wheels can be freestanding or hung up on a wall. The body of the wheel and the surface the cat runs on can be made of different materials, including metals, synthetic materials and foam, wood or cardboard.

What are the advantages of cat wheels?

When cats run on cat wheels, this movement challenges and sharpens all of their senses, while also stimulating their metabolism, building up their muscles and strengthening their cardiovascular system. More exercise makes cats both healthier and more balanced.

Are cat wheels suitable for all cat breeds or only specific ones?

Cat wheels are suitable for all cat breeds. If you have an active cat at home, they’ll be especially thrilled to have an exercise wheel at their disposal. The wheel will be a welcome change and allow them to let off steam.

How dangerous are cat wheels?

The only way a cat wheel can become a source of danger for both humans and animals is if the materials or the construction can’t carry the load. For this reason, you should always make sure your cat wheel is standing firmly and securely and also that it won’t tip over or slip while your cat is exercising.

How much does a cat wheel cost?

Prices for cat wheels vary. That being said, it’s never a good idea to buy a cheap wheel. To make your cat feel comfortable on its wheel, it should be made of materials that meet the cat’s needs. In other words, it should be made of natural, high-quality materials with no harmful chemicals.

What size should a cat wheel be?

The diameter of the wheel should fit the size of your cat. How big is your cat? Measure their shoulder height from the front paws to the shoulder blade. For smaller to medium sized adult cats, the cat wheel should have a minimum diameter of 140 cm.