DIY cat wheel

How to Make a Cat Exercise Wheel

A cat exercise wheel is a rotating platform that your cat can use to run and get some much-needed exercise. These devices are becoming increasingly popular as people realize how their cats need to stay active to keep them healthy and prevent them from being overweight.

Cats are considered overweight if they weigh 10 to 20% above their ideal body weight. A domestic cat would mostly weigh about 9 to 11 pounds. This will change depending on the breed. A Siamese cat can weigh as low as 6 pounds while a male ragdoll can weigh as much as 20 pounds.

Is it Bad for a Cat to be Overweight?

The answer is yes. Not only can it shorten your cat’s life expectancy but it can trigger more serious conditions such as osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia and diabetes.

Obesity in cats, or all pets in general, will compromise their quality of life and will inhibit a cat’s ability to engage in physical activities. To combat obesity and potential health issues, you need to keep your cat’s body fit and healthy.

A cat wheel can help your cat become more active at home and improve its mental and physical health. If you own a cat or thinking about getting a kitten you need to do more than just cat-proofing your home and providing it food, you also need to make sure that you provide your pet with an environment where it can thrive.

Although a cat wheel can be expensive, you can try to make your own at home for a much cheaper cost.

Here’s a guide on how to make a cat exercise wheel at home.

DIY Cat Exercise Wheel

When it comes to cat treadmills or exercise wheels, there are a lot of plans you can use. There are cat exercise wheels that are designed like a Ferris wheel and then there are ones designed like a treadmill.

For this DIY, we’re going to create a cat exercise wheel with the machination of a treadmill. Let’s get started.

(Wheel  dimension: 48 in. outer diameter)

What you’ll need

  • a large piece of cardboard or plywood
  • a sharp knife
  • a hot glue gun
  • a can of spray paint (optional)
  • 4 pieces (2-inch)  caster wheel (you can get this from your hardware store)
  • 2 small pieces of wood (for the axle)
  • Duck tape
  • Scrap wood/screws
  • 3 Floor mats
  • 1 roll of wrapping paper

How to Make a Cat Exercise Wheel

Wheel

  1. To start a real what we’re going to do is the outside bands. These edges will form as a lock so that the wheel is firmly attached to the base. You’re going to be making an edge that goes all the way around the wheel itself. For this edge, you’re using cardboard or plywood. If you’re using cardboard, you have to double layer it to help for stability.
  2. The outside of the wheel is going to be up to 48 inches, if you can’t get the materials for the edges out of one solid piece of cardboard you can piece it together like a puzzle we’re gonna need five sheets of cardboard.

The edges should be at least 2 inches wide. Go ahead and mark for all five sheets the middle at the top and the bottom. This will help you line up the cardboard.

Trace your arches. The arches are like puzzle pieces right now but once they’re all cut out, you should be able to piece them to form a circle. 

For stability, you have to make them in pairs and stick each pair together with a glue gun or duct tape. So what you’re going to have are like 2 pieces of flat giant hula hoops.

3. Now for the cat wheel itself, get your plywood or cardboard. Cut as many as you need so that when you attach them together, they’re going to be the size that you want, matching the edges that you made earlier. If you think that your cardboard is a little too flimsy, you can glue two to three layers until you think it’s stable enough.

4. Take the edge that you made earlier (the one that’s now shaped like a hula hoop). Attach the cardboard to it, lining the inside. Tape the cardboard one by one until you have formed a wheel. If you’re using plywood, then glue them together using wood glue.

5. Once done, stick the other edge in to lock the running wheel in place.

6. You can add another layer of running path just to secure the wheel. Make sure that everything is glued in place.

7. You can line the inside with a floormat if you want.

The Base

The base has an arch that supports the wheel. It will also house the axle that will help the cat wheel rotate. (Image from Pinterest)
  1. Grab two pieces of cardboard or plywood. Then cut them in half, lengthwise. You now have 4 pieces of cardboard/plywood.
  2. Grab one half of the cardboard and find the center of the long side and just make a little mark that should help line up this next piece.
  3. To fit the wheel, you have to cut an arch from one corner to the other. Do the same curve that you did for the edges of the wheel.
  4. Grab another piece and cut the same arch.
  5. For the main base, the one that’s going to be laying flat on the ground, grab another cardboard and measure the width of your cat wheel. The base should be similar to the width of the wheel.
  6. Grab the last piece of cardboard or plywood and cut it in half.
  7. So now you have the two arches that will support the cat wheel, the base, and the last two pieces which will cover the sides of the box.
  8. Make sure that everything is glued into place.

The Axle or Wheel Mechanism

Caster wheels are available at your local hardware store or you can order them through Amazon.
  1. Grab your caster wheels and some scrap wood. You will be putting the wheel inside the base and you’ll be using the wood to elevate the wheel just a little bit so that it touches the cat wheel.
  2. You need to measure the position accurately so that you can tell how much the caster wheels are touching the cat wheel. The wheels should be evenly spread apart. Since they’re acting as the cat wheel’s legs, they have to be stable.
  3. Grab your scrap wood. The wheels should be stable so either uses a sturdy piece of scrap wood for all four or make sure that you have woods that can be attached to each other.
  4. Screw the wheels into the wood.
  5. Glue the wood onto the base.

Assemble everything together by putting the cat wheel on top of the base. It should be good to go.

Using cardboard, you can spray paint the entire wheel to give it a more finished look. This step is optional, but it’s definitely worth doing if you want your wheel to look its best.

Do Cats Really Use Exercise Wheels?

Image by dare2bnaked

Yes, cats do use exercise wheels but note that every cat has a different personality. Some cats are naturally more active like the Savannahs, Egyptian Maus and Bengals so they will be keen on using an exercise wheel. Make sure that you know your cat’s habits and personality before getting them an exercise wheel.

How Big Should a Cat Exercise Wheel Be?

For cats weighing 15 lbs and below, a medium-sized cat wheel measuring about 30 x 13 x 36 inches should be sufficient. If you have cats weighing about 30 lbs, a large-sized cat wheel that measures 40 x 17 x 47.8 inches should be a good size for them.

How Do I Get My Cat To Use An Exercise Wheel?

Introducing your cat to an exercise wheel shouldn’t be too hard as they’re naturally curious animals. There are some cats who will naturally use an exercise wheel, but for some, there’s a certain process to it.

If you follow this process, then you can teach your cat how to get a proper cardio workout.

Keep in mind that you should never force your cat to go on the wheel. This means you shouldn’t carry your cat over to the wheel and spin it. This will create a negative experience that they will associate with the device.

  1. Let your cat explore the wheel. Just let them sniff it and get used to its presence.
  2. Place some of your beloved cat items on the wheel. You can put cat toys or place treats inside the cat wheel. These will encourage your cat to hang around the exercise wheel. Once your cat is comfortable sitting inside the exercise wheel, then you can proceed to the next stage which is introducing movement.
  3. Introduce movement. Once your cat is comfortable on the wheel, you can hold a treat in front of them to encourage them to walk. Once the wheel moves, reward them with a treat. Help your cat control the pace by putting a hand on the wheel so that it doesn’t move too quickly. 
  4. Let your cat adjust the pace and eventually, your cat will find it fun to not only walk but run on the cat wheel.

Cats are natural hunters and they need to stay active to keep their minds and bodies healthy. Movement, especially those that use their hunting skills, can help manage their weight and keep off extra energy.

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