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HolidayBuyer's Guide

PetTread treadmill: A giant hamster wheel for cats and dogs

A pet treadmill design launches on Kickstarter with the goal of upping the exercise for roly-poly pets.

Yes, that's a cat on a prototype treadmill. Maweejik

America has a fat problem, and it's not just the humans. Many pets are also toting some extra poundage.

You could, of course, take your dog for more walks, or spend more time playing attack-the-fuzzy-thing with your cat. Or you could invest in a pet treadmill. Better yet, check out PetTread, a pet-treadmill design that looks like a giant hamster wheel.

PetTread is looking to raise $110,000 on Kickstarter to take a prototype version into production. Like many inventions, the PetTread came about as a result of personal experience. Creator John Gosson had an overweight cat named Noonie. Adjusting her diet didn't help much, so he used his electrical engineering background to craft a power treadmill she could safely use.

A $200 pledge will get backers their own PetTread if the project is successful. Though it was initially designed for a cat, it's made to also handle small-to-medium dogs. Gosson spent a fair amount of time building safety features into his prototype, like a 15-minute time limit and a kill-switch that shuts it off if the pet stops walking. That's right, you'll have none of those hamster-style loop-de-loops here.

The production version has been designed to come apart and store under a bed or in a closet. It will also have Bluetooth and USB connections. Gosson plans to launch a pet weight-loss community where owners can share their experiences as their furballs try to shed the ounces.

I would like to say that my cats are super svelte and I don't have any need for a pet treadmill. Well, that's mostly true. Two out of three are super svelte, but one is on a diet and exercise program. Since that one also has a history of fleeing from iPad apps for cats, I'm not sure he would take to the advanced technology of this pet treadmill.

Still, if the PetTread gets off the ground, it should spawn countless hours of new YouTube videos of cats and dogs looking alternately perplexed, fearful, or sporty depending on their ability to accept the exercise device.

PetTread schematics
Schematics show how the PetTread production model will come apart. Maweejik