Does your cat love to roam the neighborhood or the fields and forests around your house? I bet sometimes they are gone for hours on end and you wonder where they are! Are they lost, has something happened to them?
Wonder no longer. Keep an eye on your cat from afar. Consider adding one of the best tracking devices for cats to your arsenal of cat stuff and you'll always know right where your cat is. No more late nights wondering if your pal is hurt in the woods or just across the way begging for treats from the neighbors.
I have included GPS trackers, RF/RFID driven devices and and Bluetooth trackers as they all have different benefits and drawbacks.
Table of Contents (click to expand)
The Best Tracking Devices for Cats
Whistle 3 Cat Tracker
Meet the Whistle 3 GPS driven Cat Tracker from Whistle. If you're looking for a smarter way to keep track of your kitty cat then you've found it right here. The Whistle 3 uses GPS to keep track of your pet and uses AT&Ts cellular network to communicate the location back to you on your mobile phone!
If you're looking for a reliable and well trusted tracker then Whistle 3 is the go to choice today. Whistle is compatible with both Android and iOS so as long you're not still hanging on to a Blackberry or a Windows phone you'll be in great shape!
A few other key features worth noting:
"This GPS tracker followed my cat Mr. Fluff all through the neighborhood with pinpoint accuracy. I did an update while watching TV and realized he was at the front door and wanted in! What a relief after he got lost a few weeks ago!"
It is also worth noting the following:
Findster Duo Cat Tracker
If you're set on a GPS based tracker, but you also don't like the idea of paying a recurring monthly fee, then Findster is the best option out there for you. Not only does it have all of the major benefits of a GPS based tracker, but it doesn't have the one key drawback.
It is also an excellent option if you've got multiple pets as they have upgrade packages that will let you add additional trackers at a great cost. This means you can track up to three pets on the same account without paying any recurring monthly fees. That's a huge benefit since most GPS trackers require a separate subscription per tracker.
Let's take a look at a few other items worth noting:
"Our cats love to roam over a large space and it used to take me hours to track them down. With Findster I can easily locate them both pretty quickly and bring them home if I need to!"
It is worth noting the following before purchasing:
Pawfit Lightweight Tracker
If you're looking for a durable pet tracker that will take on pretty much any situation you throw at it then the Pawfit is an excellent model for consideration. The shell is waterproof and dustproof and it is specifically designed to withstand drops and bites too!
Pawfit utilizes GPS with a combination of WiFi and cell technology to give you some of the the fastest and most accurate location tracking services for your cats! On top of location tracking it also features a ton of great activity tracking metrics to keep an eye on your cat's health!
A few other key items worth noting:
A few things worth considering before purchasing this model.
Tractive Cat Tracking Device
Tractive is a lightweight & waterproof GPS tracking device, recommended for pets above 9 pounds, perfect for most house cats! You can use it to easily pinpoint the location of your pet and even easily share it with family and friends, great if your pet hops between households or if people are out looking for a lost animal!
It functions in over 150 different countries worldwide and you can access the location either through your mobile phone or the Tractive website. A few additional items worth calling out:
"The tracker is a little too large for our cat's collar, but it attaches well enough to his harness. He got used to it after a few days and is back to roaming and we are happy knowing where he is!"
A couple of key items worth considering before making a purchase:
TooGoo Pets Anti-Lost GPS Cat Locator
This tracker's claim to fame is really the fact that it is designed in the shape of a pawprint which makes it clear it is designed just for your pet! That doesn't take anything away from the great job the product does though. As with any GPS tracker this is geared toward long range tracking in outdoor areas.
It is of course 100% waterproof and will continue to function even if your pet decides to go for a dip in the local pond or lake! Another huge perk here is price. Though it does require a recurring subscription it is on the cheap side when it comes to the device investment.
A few other things worth noting:
Pod 3 Plus WiFi Cat Tracker
Pod trackers have been around for years now and they are now onto their third generation tracker. Pod trackers are amazing and feature several great capabilities, specifically around switching out rechargeable batteries and attaching them to your pet / pet's collar!
I did however want to include them in my list because they are one of the pioneers in the space and they have also had some great deals in the past where they don't charge a recurring subscription fee even though they are GPS driven.
A few other items worth noting on the POD related option:
"Our cat Peter Pan can now roam free and pretend he is flying with the lost boys! He absolutely loves it and the size doesn't seem to bother him one bit!"
It is definitely worth noting the following before making a purchase:
--Radio Frequency Devices--
Girafus Long Range Cat Tracker
If GPS doesn't sound like the right path for you because you know your cat likes to get in places that GPS doesn't work then RF is a great alternative. This RF tracker has one of the longest ranges of RF based trackers on the market at about 1600 feet.
Do keep in mind that RF trackers do not show you your cat's location on a map, but instead use more of a hot and cold type system to point you in the right direction.
RF trackers are primarily known for working inside as well as outdoors. This means you can use it to locate your cat even in a busy house or if they've snuck into the garage of a neighboring household while running from a loud noise!
A few key items worth noting on this model:
"It has excellent range in open areas, it is fairly straight forward to use if you're even remotely technically savvy!"
It is worth noting the following on this model before considering it for purchase:
Eureka's MarcoPolo Pet Tracker
Eureka's MarcoPolo tracker is definitely one of the best pet trackers on the market. It works using tracking devices that can be attached to the included MarcoPolo collars or any other collar over 7 inches long. This works similar to radar systems you've seen in all the movies.
When your cat goes outside simply flip on the base unit and you can follow her with ease! If you so happen to live above the areas your pets love to roam all the better as you'll have a better line of sight to your kitties.
A few other things worth noting:
"I've got 2 cats that love to roam the surrounding area. Sometimes they disappear for longer than expected and this unit has always helped us find them within just a few minutes."
It is worth considering this before making a purchase:
Cat Tailer Cat Tracker
This particular model is actually driven using Bluetooth technology. It works in a very similar fashion to an RF driven tracker in that it will have a much shorter range, but unlike most RF driven trackers it won't require a specialized base unit.
Cat Tailer broadcasts a very low power homing signal that is picked up by your smartphone when you download and install the app. Based on the strength of the signal the application determines how far you are from your pet. Cat Tailer is an effective method for finding your pet within your yard or neighborhood or even indoors!
A few other things worth noting on this option:
"My girlfriend's cat often manages to bolt out the door on me when I stop by to feed it. This has made it so much easier to track her down in the neighborhood. The app is super easy to use and immediately found the tracking device."
It is definitely worth noting the following before considering this for purchase:
TabCat Tracking System
TabCat is the go to option if you've got several cats and you want to be able to locate them with ease, but you don't want to pay for ongoing subscription fees! TabCat is an RF driven option that comes with 2 tags and can easily pair with another two tags giving you an easy way to keep track of four cats at once!
TabCat is great for shorter distance tracking like in a neighborhood, around the house or even out in your larger backyard. It has a range of about 120 meters which is about the length of a football field and it'll track your kitty down with pinpoint accuracy!
A few additional items worth noting:
"It works quite well for exactly what it is designed to do, short range cat tracking. It helps me find my kitty when she goes out in the yard near our rural home."
It is worth noting the following before purchasing:
Cube General Item Tracker for Cats
You might not immediately consider Cube as an option for your cat tracking desires, but you'd be surprised at how effective it can be as a cat tracker. Cube is actually designed to keep track of common household items, purses, keys, etc.
Since this functions off of Bluetooth there aren't any recurring subscription fees like with a GPS model or a need to carry around a special tracking device as you often have to with RF driven options.
A few other things worth noting:
"Even though it isn't made for a cat it has worked great for me to let me know when my cat has arrived home and I need to let her back inside! I'm usually on the second floor and don't hear her so this is super handy!"
It is worth considering the following before you make a purchase:
What Features Should I Consider?
There are three core types of technology available:
1. Global Positioning System (GPS)
2. Radio Frequency (RF/RFID)
Attachment to Your Cat
Most GPS trackers allow you to simply snap them or slide them onto an existing collar. GPS related trackers will sometimes come with their own custom collar that you'll then have to get your kitty cat used to. Many of these collars are quite weighty and may require some time to get your cat used to it.
RFID trackers can often directly attach to your cat's existing collar. Simply hook it onto the D ring built into the collar and you're good to go. The same is true for Bluetooth trackers, simply attach them to the D ring.
The weight of the tracker is a key item worth considering as well. Most tracking devices come with their own collar and their own attachment mechanism to ensure the tracker won't fall off. Many of these are quite bulky for cats, especially smaller cats. Given this you'll want to consider how much the tracker weighs.
It is worth noting that GPS related trackers tend to be larger and weigh more than RF trackers. This is because of the battery power required to run a GPS based tracker.
If you decide on a GPS driven model you'll want to significantly consider the cellular coverage in your area. If you live in the middle of nowhere then you're unlikely to have great coverage. Without decent cell coverage you'll have difficulty getting a location from a GPS tracker.
Be sure to check which network your GPS driven tracker will use and then cross reference it with the associated coverage map from that network. This will ensure you get the coverage and accuracy you need for good tracking.
Note: Some models require a 2G or 3G network specifically. 2G networks aren't as commonly available in the United States anymore so be sure to check for coverage before purchase!
Some RFID driven devices will also be able to leverage and ping WiFi networks. This is especially true of devices that are more generic trackers and don't tend to be designed specifically for pets in mind. A great example is the cube.
What this means is that whenever your cat gets in range of a WiFi network (they don't have to connect to it or anything) the device will log the location. If you're in a more urban area this is a heck of a lot more useful than if you're out in the middle of nowhere. Generally I wouldn't depend on this capability unless you live in the suburbs where lots of small businesses or homes may have networks.
Range doesn't come into play when you have a GPS related device, but it certainly does when you decide to use an alternative technology. Many RF/RFID driven devices have varying ranges and you might need to be within a relatively close proximity to actually find your cat.
If you've got relatively wide open spaces around you and you don't mind walking a little bit then this shouldn't be a huge consideration. Cats in general don't tend to have gigantic territories, so unless something has happened to your cat a couple hundred feet should be plenty.
Bluetooth devices have a very limited range, usually around 100 feet. Bluetooth has very specific use cases so be sure you are ok with that range before making a purchase.
Definitely keep an eye on battery life. While most of these options will easily last a few days you'll definitely want to consider how often you might want to reconnect the device and charge it up. If you tend to be forgetful definitely lean toward a model that has a longer battery life.
You can also set reminders in your phone quite easily to take the batteries or the device out and recharge it, just be sure your cat won't go outside during this time!
This is outside of the device or the app where you will perform the tracking. This is for the tracking beacon itself. Be sure your tracking beacon is waterproof if you live anywhere that gets quite a bit of rain. Beacons can easily get damaged or become unusable if the electronics inside get wet and that renders the entire system useless.
Mobile Phone Compatibility
Several of the tracking systems out there will come with built in smart phone apps that not only allow you to keep constant tabs on your cat, they even allow you to do cool things like setup geographic ring fences and such so if your cat goes too far from home it'll send you an alert.
Be sure to keep a close eye on any mobile apps in the details of the model you buy. Some of them do only have an app for iOS or for Android. You wouldn't want to go to all the trouble to find it isn't compatible with your phone!
Activity Tracking Metrics
On top of the features above, some of the more advanced trackers are also dubbed 'activity trackers.' This will keep track of all sorts of fun little metrics about your cat. It'll tell you things like speed, and distance traveled, body temperature and might even show you where they tend to stop for long periods of time.
This might shed light on how fluffy seems to keep gaining weight even though you're keeping her on a strict diet. Perhaps she is stopping next door to get a few snacks every day on the way home from her daily jaunt in the woods!
Ongoing Service Fees
GPS related trackers usually have to ping a cellular network on a consistent basis. This is how you can always access the location of the tracking beacon. To do this the beacon usually uses a sim cards. You'll recognize the sim card from what goes in your cellular phone.
As with anything that has ongoing cellular service there are usually ongoing service fees. Some of GPS driven cat tracking systems you'll find out there do have prepaid fees and nothing is required on an ongoing basis, but be sure to read the fine print if you decide to go with a GPS driven system.
There are also a few out there that make you to pay a one time fee on top of the cost of the equipment. This will ensure you get tracking as long as the product is still working. Be sure to check as the long term fees can definitely add up.
Note that RF driven devices and Bluetooth devices should not require any form of ongoing subscription fee.
How Reliable Are They?
The technology behind pet tracking has actually been around for quite some time. Both GPS and RF related tracking have been used extensively for years. The key considerations that need to be taken into account for applying them to pet use are primarily related to the three following items:
Location of Use
If you're buying a tracking device for your cat the thing you care most about is whether or not you'll be able to find your cat! No surprise. The location you use these trackers in will heavily impact your ability to leverage them.
See the section below to get a better rundown on ideal locations for trackers. The short of it is that the more concrete or solid objects in the way the less likely the tracker will work effectively.
This is the biggest reliability feature most people need to focus on. GPS related trackers do require constant recharging and having good battery life is key. But longer battery life also drives more weight in the device so you need to strike a fine balance to keep it online without driving your pet bonkers.
One of the key features many pet tracking devices feature is that they are waterproof. While obviously far more important for dogs, it is still something to consider for your cat. A waterproof tracking device will ensure it won't die in the rain or if your cat just gets it wet running through a field with tall grass.
Where Do Trackers Work Best?
Trackers work best when there are very few large solid objects around. This is because signals can be blocked or can bounce of large solid objects which make sit harder to track your pet down. The easiest way to think about this is probably to rank order the places that trackers work best.
- A large open grass field that is well maintained
- A field with tall grasses and the occasional tree or bush
- A traditional suburb with lots of space between houses
- A dense forest full of large tall trees
- A semi urban area with mid sized buildings and low houses
- A downtown area full of high rise buildings and multiple levels of concrete
A simple way to process this is to think about the amount of concrete around. Generally speaking, the more concrete that's around the harder it will be for the tracker to work properly. That's not to say it will not work, it'll just be more difficult.
If you've ever driven a car in a complicated downtown area and your GPS has gotten lost then you'll have a good idea of what will happen to the pet tracking versions.
The same is true of RFID driven trackers, the more solid objects in the way of the signal the more difficult of a time you'll have getting a read.
Will Weather Impact Tracking?
Weather can certainly impact your ability to track your pet effectively. Clear sunny days are by far the easiest weather to track your pet through, but they are also likely the days you are least interested in finding your cat too.
Just like weather impacts the accuracy of GPS on your phone or in your car it can and absolutely will impact the GPS unit tracking your pet. If there are extreme storms or really heavy cloud cover you may run into difficulty getting an accurate signal.
RF driven trackers will be far less impacted by cloud cover because of the way they work. The direct line of sight and the range required will mitigate any impact clouds will have. You may still have difficulty in heavy fog or in snowy conditions, but generally speaking you'll see less impact from the weather.
It should also be noted that water in general can cause non waterproof units to malfunction or break outright. Be sure to buy a waterproof model if it rains often near you.
Do I Need a Special Collar or Harness?
The short answer to this is no. Most trackers are designed to easily attach to pretty much any traditional cat collar that isn't over an inch in width. Cat collars in general tend to come in quite a bit thinner than this, some of the widest I've seen are about 5/8". If you need a recommendation on a cat collar you can find my favorites here.
An added benefit to Bluetooth and RFID driven trackers is they easily attach to D ring on an existing collar or to latch on to a harness with ease. They are also very lightweight so they won't cause any hassle.
Any tracker that recommends a special collar (for example Marco Polo) comes with the collar directly. Even these can be rigged onto a traditional collar or harness, it is just easier with the recommended version.
If your cat already has a collar but you decide on one of the larger models then you may want to consider using a harness to attach it instead. Some of the tracers are as big as 2" x 2" which can make it difficult for your cat to eat/drink and could potentially get in the way of him defending himself if needed.
Should My Cat Even Be Outside?
This is actually a quite heavily debated topic in the United States, especially in urban areas. There are many studies that have shown that household cats kill local wildlife and may have other types of impact as well.
Outside of the US this isn't nearly as hotly debated. A lot of high quality pet tracking devices have originated outside of the United States because traditionally cats are let outdoors whenever they want to go outside.
My own point of view is that if you want to let your cat outside then go ahead and do so. Please just make sure your cat wears a collar and has a microchip so that if your cat gets lost or injured you have a much higher chance of getting your fur ball back home safe!
Wrap Up On The Best Tracking Devices For Cats
There are clearly tons of considerations that you need to account for when you're looking to purchase a tracking device of some sort for your cat. This is true whether you decide to go with an RF driven or a GPS driven tracker or even if you decide to go with Bluetooth.
Every technology has its own application and finding the best tracking devices for cats totally depends on your own unique situation. What's most important is that you take the time to think about how your cat behaves and the types of situations you'll find yourself most likely to use the tracker in. Making the right purchase up front can save you loads of frustration down the road.
If you have any experience with cat tracking devices or want to ask a question please use the comments below! I'd love to hear from you!