Should you Buy a Cat Wheel?
Should You Buy a Cat Wheel?
Most of us have seen hamsters and other small pets running on wheels for exercise, but did you know that there is a bigger version for your kitties? Although I highly recommend training your cat on a harness for outdoor exercise and enrichment time, sometimes our busy lives or cold weather prevent this. That’s why I highly recommend a cat wheel! Cat wheels look just like hamster wheels and work the same, but they usually have a soft carpet on the inside of the wheels and are much larger.
Mental and Physical Benefits
In the United States alone, over 60% of cats are overweight. This is dangerous for their health, as the excess weight puts pressure on their joints, heart, and muscles. That’s why an indoor cat wheel is so perfect- they can work out anytime!
Cat wheels offer more than just physical exercise as well, it is also a form of enrichment. Kitties are naturally curious and love to work their bodies and minds, so running on a cat wheel is very exciting for them, especially if their owner is involved in the play!
How to Get Started
Many cat owners are skeptical of the cat wheel because they are not sure if their cat will like it, but that is something that owners can help with. Your cat loves to play with you, so if you extend your playtime to include the wheel, it makes for a much smoother transition. Here are three easy ways that will help your cat love their wheel:
Kitties LOVE wand toys, so it’s the perfect incentive to get your cat acclimated with their cat wheel. Start by playing with your cat next to the wheel. Slowly start to flutter the toy onto the wheel every few minutes. Once the kitty is comfortable jumping into the wheel, then you can try to move it up the side of the wheel to begin the spinning.
Most cats will jump off the first few times it moves, but be persistent! Go at your cat’s speed, and try not to push them past their comfort zone as this can create a negative association with your kitty. After many positive experiences, your cat will learn to love the wheel and may even play on it all on their own.
A laser pointer is also the perfect toy to help introduce your kitty to their wheel! Follow the same instructions as the wand toy, still going at your cat’s pace. Some kitties will take to the wheel surprisingly fast, but some kitties are likely shyer and may take some more coaxing to get started. Patience is key!
Of course, you can always use treats to get your kitties onto the wheel! Lickable treats are best because you can give them a little at a time on a spoon or straight from the package. They are also much easier to eat quickly versus crunchy treats, making it easy for them to snack while walking on the wheel!
Overall, cat wheels are a great resource to help your kitty get the exercise they need to maintain a healthy weight. Even better, they are fun for cats! I highly recommend a cat wheel, especially if you live in an extra hot or extra cold climate where outdoor exercise can be dangerous.
Keep giving your pets the best of natural life!
April Arguin A.S., C.P.N., M.P.H