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One Fast Cat Has Entered The Building

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Bengals are very racy, to put it mildly, so having a way to let them run without leaving the compound and be exposed to predators would be a good thing. We had long considered getting a cat exercise wheel, but they were on the expensive side.

One day, Joy happened upon a Kickstarter that had a new design not requiring a strong framework to hold the center live bearing upon which the wheel rotates. It's called One Fast Cat and is constructed from injection molded plastic segments that assemble into a narrow open ended cylinder which sits on four soft wheels located at the outer corners of the base.

The big cylinder is shipped in 54 pieces! It is made up of two rings, 18 interlocking curved segments each, that are on either side of the 18 curved tread panels. Once the rings are assembled, the tread segments snap into them and the cylinder becomes fairly rigid. The final touch is the soft pad applied to the treads to provide some grip and cushion.

Takes a bit of finesse to assemble it. (Hint, a hefty rubber mallet, clamshells and your favorite beverage helps.) Constructing the rings isn't so much of a problem but getting the treads to snap into the rings posed something of a conundrum. For a while, it looked like we couldn't get there from here. Once the trick was learned to get them started, it went fairly easily; albeit with a lot of banging that freaked everyone out. The periodic cussing didn't help, I'm sure.

The ends of the ring segments have a bit of a sharp burr left by the mold and we recognized that this would cause significant amounts of clatter and noise as the bumps hit and bounced over the wheels. So, out came a rasp and I filed all of the joints until they were smooth to the touch. The wheels had a mold parting line mark around the center, so they were filed down as well. There is now only a soft, low rumbling as someone runs on it. Sounds like distant thunder. It would be nice to get it smoother, as there are undulations in the molded parts, but it's a pretty good compromise right now.

Even with the refinement, we were initially concerned that the noise would keep us awake, which would be the primary reason to have the center bearing design, but the kids are pretty much sacked when we are. If it did turn out to be a problem, we'd place some hand clamps on either side of one of the wheels to keep it from rotating. To our delight, when someone does get on it, it wakes us up, yes, but we smile and fall back to sleep knowing that someone is enjoying themselves.

We've been adding some enhancements to the design. (Big Surprise...) Willow has a very fluffy tail and her feathers got caught between the cylinder and one of the wheels when she sat down with her tail draped over the edge of the pendulum-swinging cylinder. She and her brother Watson and sister Arya are Somali mixes, so have extra-fluffy tails. Gotta do something to protect them. 4.5" disks attached to the wheel bearing bolts solves the problem nicely.

The unit sits on carpet, not on a hardwood floor as the product video shows, so oscillates laterally a bit. We're adding point-tipped leveling jack screws to the foot on each corner that go through the carpet and pad to the sub-floor to stabilize the frame. This may add to the resonance, but there's no free lunch.

The kids like it. Some take a bit more time to "get it" than others. A toy just out of reach helps to entice them to run and jump to catch it. Every so often, one of them scores and brings the prize into the studio, dropping it beside our chairs. Pretty cool.
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