Sanna Kramsi - Blog A peek into my life

Cat exercise wheel

April 10, 2022 | Cats

I've had several people ask me what a cat wheel is. Well, it's very similar to a hamster wheel, just quite a bit larger. There are a lot of different kinds of wheels on the market. I had been following a Finnish retailer that sells the Ferris cat wheel.

The idea of a cat wheel is to give your cat a place where they can run. They can run as long as they want and as fast as they want.

If you plan to get a wheel for your cat, make sure the wheel is large enough. If the wheel is less than 120cm in diameter, there is a risk for your cat to hurt their back. Also when looking at the options, try to make sure the wheel is secure and safe for a cat to use. They've at least thought about these things with the Ferris wheel.

Out thought process for the wheel

The first thing we thought about was if we thought our cats would actually use it. I had a feeling that Osiris might be interested since he is an active cat. The wheel is in no way cheap, so we thought quite long if we would get one or not. Because we knew that if we bought one and cats weren't interested, the wheel might not be easy to sell. It also wasn't very easy to get one, since the retailer would only get some a few times a year and the wheel quickly sold out. I followed the retailer for a couple of years. 

At the end of last year, I noticed that they were getting the next shipment soon. We had a long discussion about whether we should get the wheel. At the time we had Nappi and Elli with us and one of our pro points was that Elli and Osiris might be able to burn some energy on the wheel. In the end, we decided to risk it and buy the wheel. We would try to sell it if the cats just wouldn't want to use it.

Getting the wheel

The wheel itself was nicely packaged and the parts were of good quality. The wheel was relatively easy to put together. I really did not understand how big the wheel actually is, even though I had the numbers. But luckily the wheel is not super heavy so we were able to put it together in a different room where it would be used.

Cats getting used to the wheel

While Nappi and Elli were here, only Elli was even slightly interested in the wheel. We even offered to give it to their new home when they left, but the wheel is so big that the new home didn't want it.

After Nappi and Elli left and things were getting back to normal, we started to try to get Lumia and Osiris interested in the wheel. Treats were given if one would walk even a few steps. Osiris went nuts on the treats and he would just run around without understanding what we wanted him to do. Lumia seemed to get it quite quickly. 

Lumia started to walk with the treats. Osiris still would only take a few steps. He seemed to get bored. We were already talking about how it will be ok if this is the way we get them to use the wheel. But then Lumia started to walk on the wheel on her own. She would just calmly walk for a while. We always got her treats if she did this, occasionally she wouldn't even want the treats but would just continue walking. I was so happy. Then after a while, Lumia started to run on the wheel. Or she would hop quite high on the wheel, and then run. Osiris would still just walk if we would ask him to and he got treats.

But then a month ago, Osiris just suddenly went to the wheel and started walking on his own. He was meowing to us so we would come to watch. He did receive treats for this change of behavior. And since that day, he's been walking and running on the wheel daily. He runs faster on the wheel than he can run on our floors. Which does mean his muscles should improve. His sprints are quite brief, but he does them several times a day.

But now we have a small problem. They both want to be on the wheel. A few times they have tried to go in the same direction together, but it gets quickly chaotic. The wheel is so wide that two cats fit there, so that's not an issue. They've both had this habit of jumping in the other direction than the other is going in. The issue is not so big if Lumia does it because she is lighter than Osiris. But when Osiris does it, well then it's a 5kg cat vs a 3kg cat. So basically Lumia gets quite abruptly interrupted and will usually try to quickly hop off before she flies off.

Both cats know now how to jump higher on the wheel, hang on to the sides and then start running when they are at the bottom of the wheel. Lumia did this at first, but Osiris has clearly been watching and learning because he now does it as well. And now Osiris has figured out that he can actually jump multiple times and then start running during his zoomies.

The good and the bad about the wheel

Well, as I mentioned, the wheel is quite big. The diameter is 130cm, and it has wheels at the bottom that make it a bit higher. Our apartment really doesn't have a proper space for the wheel, currently, it is sitting in the middle of our living room.

While the wheel is quite quiet, our apartment building is quite old, and sound travels a lot. So I assume our neighbors know when Osiris is running. But since our neighbors do have their parties and all kinds of other noises, I think Osiris occasionally running is fine. The cats rarely use the wheel during quiet time.

The cats like to claw the mats on the wheel, which gets some mat pieces around the house, but that isn't really even an inconvenience. At some point, we do need to buy another set of mat pieces for the wheel.

But other than that, I have nothing slightly bad to say. I'm really glad we bought the wheel since the cats seem to like it a lot. I'm hoping this will improve Osiris' muscles even further. He's already been getting praise at the vet for having really visible muscles. How he's developed his muscles is basically our climbing wall. During his zoomies, he occasionally runs and jumps up and down the climbing wall. That is another thing I can definitely recommend for any cat home.