Cats can be elusive and private characters, but a cat GPS tracker may give you a glimpse of what they get up to when you’re not looking. Plus, if your cat ever goes missing - which sadly, a third of feline pets do at some point – it could help you get them home quicker.
Originally developed by the US Air Force to assist them with military operations, pet owners can tap into Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to know exactly where their pets are and where they have been. Just how far depends on whether the tracker uses Bluetooth or a SIM card, for example, and whether they come with an app, allowing you to keep up with your cat’s capers from abroad, for example.
When choosing a GPS tracker for your cat, there are a number of things to bear in mind, such as the frequency of positional updates and their accuracy, as well as if they offer other features such as location history. Then there’s ease of use and whether they have a monthly fee attached, as well as practical considerations for kitty comfort such as size and weight.
Of course, budget also plays a role. Typically, smaller, neater units cost more, and those that rely on a SIM card inside can land you with an extra monthly bill. So, it really comes down to which features you want and how much you’re prepared to pay for them.
If you’re looking for loads of features to give an insight into the secret life of your pet, the Tractive GPS Collar may be for you. Its live location tracking can tell you the whereabouts of your pet every two to three seconds, when the tracker is linked to an app. It also shows you all the places your cat has been, including their usual haunts, which are shown with a heatmap. This means you might find out of any of your neighbours are borrowing your pet for a cuddle, or, if they frequently smell funny, where the mysterious aroma comes from!
Acting a little like a Fitbit, the gadget also monitors your cat's active time, nap time and calories burned, helping you help them to stay in shape.
When it comes to durability the tracker is waterproof and fixes to a collar with a cat-safe buckle. The rechargeable battery lasts between two and five days, and is easy to juice up - but the downside is that it's another thing to remember.
Another annoyance for some may be that the tracker requires a subscription to work, as it has a SIM card inside. This isn't unusual and means you can keep up with your cat in more than 150 countries, but it's an extra bill every month.
The collar weighs in at 30g, which may be a little heavy for very small cats, but it’s not the heaviest out there either. It is, however, one of the heavy weights when it comes to features, offering real bang for its buck.
Just like when you adopt any new technologies – a smartwatch or tablet, for example – it’s great if you can try a friend’s or an inexpensive version out first, to see whether you use it. After all, it’s good to know whether it’s worth forking out for a dream gadget with all the bells and whistles. This is, perhaps, where the Cube Pro comes in.
It’s a handy little Bluetooth tracker that you can stick on anything that’s easy to mislay, like your keys, phone, luggage, or even your cat. Finding your feline is as easy as 1,2,3, according to the manufacturer, as the device enables you to tag, ping and find it. The idea is that you can ‘ping’ the device with your phone to make it ring, and see its location on a paired phone app. The app will tell you if your cat is near or far, pinpointing its last location on a map thanks to the Bluetooth chip inside the gadget hanging from your cat’s collar. There’s also a neat feature where you can use ‘crowd find’ to ask the Cube community to be your search party, (although you would have to have a lot of local users if you wanted to find your cat.)
It’s a great little gadget to try out the idea of tracking your pet, and whether you get on with the idea. If you don’t, then it will surely be handy for finding other easy-to-misplace items. Other selling points include the small price point, waterproof casing, replaceable battery - which can last up to one year - and, unlike some other trackers, there’s no monthly subscription.
However, there are definitely better ways to track your cat! This is not least because the Cube Pro is designed to be multi-purpose, so it’s won’t enable you to track your pet’s healthy habits, or show their favourite places to hang out. But perhaps the biggest drawback is that Bluetooth trackers have a comparatively short range compared to SIM-enabled gadgets, it’s not useful if your cat roams far and wide. However, if your cat is unadventurous and tends to laze around the home – or hides in strange places, especially before a visit to the vet – it could be handy and would make a fun present for a new cat owner.
A tracker is great for finding out more about your cat, but doesn’t mean its style should suffer! The PetKit P2 activity monitor is a seriously nice-looking piece of kit, but seriously unusual too, because this tracker monitors movement not to plot your cat’s location on a map, but to track its health. So, from a finding your pet point of view, it’s pretty useless, but it sheds a lot of light on what they do, if not where they go!
The PetKit P2 uses motion sensors to record your pet’s activity, collecting data around the clock, then crunching the numbers to give you analysis via an app. For instance, it can show you your pet’s sleeping patterns, to make sure your cat is getting enough rest, as well as calculating how many calories they burn, which might be really useful if your cat has piled on the pounds. It’s hard to work out just how much food your pet really needs, but this nifty gadget could help. Then there’s a health report, which records the daily performance of your pet over a 24hour continuous period, alerting owner with mood alerts such as 'today's mood is happy,' as well as health reports and activity updates to rat your furry friend out if it has been too lazy.
Available in different colours, the device is pleasing, water resistant, lightweight and has a battery life of four months. It’s a nice piece of kit for any curious owner, especially if they have a pet with particular health needs, or that’s on a strict diet. But it’s really an ‘extra’ rather than a replacement for a traditional tracker, because, well, it doesn’t track your pet’s location – just everything else!
From the seriously stylish P2 to the serious…the Kippy Vita tracker is incredibly practical for adventurous pets that like to roam (almost) free. Yes, it’s not much to look at, but what the Kippy Vita lacks in style, it makes up for in ruggedness, range and features.
The tracker has a universal SIM, allowing you to keep an eye on your pet anywhere where’s there’s phone signal, meaning that if your cat has a large territory, this tracker has got it covered. The tracker updates the location of your cat every four seconds – which is pretty impressive – and helpful if you’re trying to catch up with them! The companion app lets you see your cat’s whereabouts in a user-friendly way and there’s a useful ‘geofence’ feature that lets you mark out ‘safe’ areas and receive alerts of your cheeky cat strays from a designated area.
If that’s not enough, the monitor also lets you track your pet’s activities and set goals, so you can be your pussy’s PT. For example, you can see how much time they spend walking, running, playing and sleeping, plus how many calories they burn, which might be handy for chunky cats.
The Kippy Vita is perhaps the most comprehensive package we’ve come across, doing pretty much everything you want a tracker to do, but there are a couple of downsides. The tracker itself is pretty big and weighs 46g, which is a decent amount if you have a small cat. Then there’s the cost. The device is at the pricey end of the cat tracker market and requires a monthly subscription, so it’s for seriously curious or dedicated owners with a bit of cash to splash.
The Loc8tor Tabcat takes an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to tracking pets, using radio frequency instead of GPS. So, if you’re not a fan of smartphones and like your tech a little old-school, this may be the ideal cat tracker for you.
Just like GPS trackers, this one is accurate - to within 2.5cms in fact. The big difference is that instead of using a SIM card or Bluetooth, it relies on radio and doesn’t pair with a phone. In place of a phone, users get a handset that shows them which way to walk (towards their cat wearing a homing tag) using audio and visual cues. As you get closer, the lights on the handset go from red to amber and then green with the audio beeps clearly indicating when you’re close to your kitty, which might be handy if you live in the countryside or somewhere without great lighting. Another advantage is that the tech can detect your pet even if they are trapped in a shed.
The Tabcat ranges up to 122 metres based on a clear line of sight, making it handy for cats with larger territories. And, one handset can be used for up to four cats if they each wear their own homing tag, of course. The tracker, or homing tag weighs just six grams, making it ideal for delicate little cats and its silicon splash-proof case will keep it in good nick too. The final advantage is that there’s no monthly fee, like SIM-card powered trackers.
However, this device won’t be for everyone and drawbacks include losing the handset and not being able to visualise data or get health insights like with similarly-priced SIM or Bluetooth trackers. Just as pets have distinctive personalities, this device will please some and irritate others.
If calling your feline friend to dinner usually requires some caterwauling, the Weenect Cats 2 can help. The tracker boasts a fun feature, enabling a user to ring the tracker’s bell for meals. This will train your kitty to associate the two events and make your cat keener to come home, and save you searching for it in the rain, for example.
Other than that USP, the Weenect Cats 2 is a solid, if not a feature-packed tracker. Relying on a SIM card, the device enables you to follow your cat on the screen everywhere where there’s a phone signal, with 100 countries covered. This means you could be relaxing on a beach while making sure Tibbles hasn’t wandered too far from his dinner, or even escaped the cat kennels.
The tracker can be set to update as much as every 30 seconds and includes a special location mode which updates every 10 seconds for two minutes. When the cat is stationary it'll update position every five minutes, which means that batteries tend to last a little longer. A full recharge takes just two hours, but of course, you have to remember to do it.
The device lacks some of the health tracking features that others boast, but it is a little cheaper. However, you’ll still have to fork out for a monthly subscription fee, making this quite expensive if you compare it with others. Having said that, it enjoys plenty of rave reviews, perhaps meaning that in some cases, less is more, if the main functions work well.
How to choose the best cat GPS tracker
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Choosing a GPS tracker for your cat needn’t be painful. There’s a purfect tracker out there for everyone, you just need to pick carefully.
One big consideration is range. If your kitty roams far and wide you’ll probably want to choose a tracker with a SIM card inside, whereas if they are a homebody you can probably get away with a Bluetooth device, saving money on a monthly subscription.
The next issue is features. Almost all of the trackers help you locate your cat, but some also offer a plethora of features to track your cats’ habits and health. Typically, extra features cost extra so it depends how much you want them. If you’re interested in your pets’ favourite places, you’ll want one with a heatmap, but if you’re interested in tracking their calories and sleep, for example, looks for one packed with health features.
Another consideration is whether you want to use a phone app to look at data. Most trackers offer this, but they’re not all created equal. Some let users track their cat from abroad, for example, so if you’re looking to check up on your pet from a sun lounger on the other side of the world, you’ll want to look for this option.
Finally, you need to think about your kitty. After all, you’re buying a tracker to keep them safe and happy. If you have a particularly small pet size, it’s wise to forgo extra features to get one that’s as light as a feather.