Tired of losing your cat? Most cats are clever enough to find their way home, but sometimes they can wander off and become lost. This is where cat trackers come in.
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A pet tracking device is either attached to your pet’s existing collar or it comes with a special adjustable collar of its own. Such devices are fairly easy to use and give you piece of mind.
The American Pet Products Association estimates that we spend over $60bn on cats and dogs every year. And big companies are taking note. They are coming out with an increasing number of high tech solutions designed specifically with pets in mind.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
There are a few gadgets that even double-up as activity/health trackers. Though a few extra pounds seem like they can’t hurt, obesity can be a life-threatening condition for your pet. Up to 60% of cats in the US are overweight, making it the most common nutritional disorder identified in veterinary practice. Your pet may be overweight, but you may not realize it.
Size matters. A good tracker for your kitty should be comfortable and lightweight, so your furry friend doesn’t even realize it’s there. Other things to keep in mind include:
- Cost: many (but not all) GPS pet monitors require a one-off activation fee and a monthly or yearly subscription in addition to the purchase price.
- Virtual fence: This feature allows you to set boundaries for your cat. If the animal crosses out of the preset boundary the device will alert you. Some also use a tracking beacon to pinpoint the exact spot where the kitty is hiding.
- Countries where it can be used: This is an important one. Most devices will work in the US but for other countries you will need to make sure to read the small print. This is particularly important for those that come with a SIM card.
- Battery life: Let’s face it, we already spend too much time charging devices on a daily basis. You certainly don’t want to add a cat tracker to this list. Aim for a battery life of a minimum 2 weeks.
- Smartphone app or stand-alone device: The bulk of cat trackers work with an accompanying smartphone app. Make sure your phone is compatible. A select few, such as Girafus, come with a proprietary device of their own.
- Live tracking: Does the device offer real-time info on your pet’s movements? If not, you may want to look elsewhere. Also some trackers update more often than others, ranging from every few seconds to a few times per hour.
- Technology used: This could be anything from GPS, to WiFi and radio frequency signals. The best offer a combination of technologies. A mix is good as it allows you to track the animal both indoors and out.
- SIM card: Some cat trackers (such as Weenect and Tractive) require a SIM Card to work. These are the ones that come with a subscription plan. A few are sold with integrated SIM cards, others allow you to add a card of your own. The latter option offers more flexibility.
Tabcat is a popular tracking device that lets you keep on top of the whereabouts of your pet. Attaching easily to your cat’s collar, the gizmo is lightweight (6 grams versus GPS tags which are normally 30+ grams), but robust enough to stay on whatever they get up to.
The directional handset picks up the signal from your kitty and then tells you which way to walk to find them. A single red light tells you’re in range and then as you walk in the right direction and get closer lights go to amber and then green guiding you right to your kitty.
Tabcat can track your cat up to 122 meters in clear line of sight and guide you right to their location, within 2.5cm. The company says, about 70% of customers they have spoken to said their cat learned to come back on its own when they pressed the locate button. Doing this activates a small beep on the tag. It seems you can train them to associate the beep with a treat.
Whistle claims to be the first device and app system that combines location-tracking and smart activity monitoring into one simple experience. The popular device attaches to your pet’s existing collar allowing you to keep track of them in real-time.
The latest version sports WiFi in addition to Bluetooth, GPS and 3G cellular data. With battery life of up to 7 days, you get live GPS tracking, location alerts and the ability to create a designated safe area. This enables you to receive alerts (email, app or text notification), when something is up. You can also access your pet’s location over the previous 24 hours to see what they were up to.
This is a wearable that also keeps tabs on your pet’s long-term health trends (such as the last vet appointment, dates of shots, and so on). You can set custom goals and receive notifications if there are significant changes to their activity or sleep patterns.
Whistle the tracker itself is priced affordably, there is a monthly fee of around $7-$10. Coverage is only in the US for now.
Tagg GPS Pet Tracker is a location tracking device that attaches to your pet’s collar so you can keep track of them wherever they go. If they ever wonder outside of the designated zone, the device sends text and email messages to let you know. You can then locate your pet on a map using the free mobile and web app.
The company has upgraded Tagg recently with several new features, including a temperature sensor which notifies you if your pet is in danger of overheating on a hot day or freezing in chilly conditions. Tagg also monitors their activity and fitness levels during the day ensuring they stay active and healthy.
Size of a silver dollar, the Pawscout Smart Tag attaches to any collar and locates your cat within a 300-foot radius of any phone or tablet with the Pawscout app. This means that you can put your pet on a virtual leash and receive alerts if it strays. The tracker was developed in partnership with the SFSPCA to introduce a community-supported way to find lost pets and reunite them with their owners.
You can invite friends, family, neighbors, dog walkers and pet sitters to install the free app to help protect your pet. If the worst happens and your pet goes missing, send out a digital “lost cat” flyer to all the animal lovers in your area and have the community searching for your pet at a moment’s notice.
The inexpensive device comes with no on-going monthly fees. It offers a complete pet profile and a lifetime of protection for a one-time purchase. This is more convenient than microchip information which can get out of date, plus reading a microchip requires a trip to the vet.
Tractive GPS tracker for animals will always let you know where your dog or cat is via an internet browser or the free mobile apps for iOS and Android.
The device enables you to set a Safe Zone for your pet. As soon as it leaves this area, you’ll get an alert directly on your smartphone. With the Live Tracking Mode you will see the trace where your pet was and where it is headed right now. The integrated light not only helps to find missing pets in the dark, but also increases the visibility of your pet when going for a walk close to roads.
Tractive uses GPS and communicates through cell phone towers, which enable you to track your pet 24/7. The device works in over 150 countries, but a subscription plan is needed.
This is not a dedicated pet tracker. Rather, its a universal tag that makes it easy to keep tabs on your valuables. But you can also attach it to your kitty.
TrackR has an app for both Apple and Android devices which allows you to easily track your lost items. The small, coin-sized device can also be attached to your pet’s collar or other valuable items. You can then monitor the location of the tab by ringing TrackR, using TrackR’s Distance Indicator or via Crowd GPS.
Weenect Cats lets you can find your cat at any time, no matter where they are. The GPS tracker is connected to your smartphone through a mobile app so that their location is displayed in real-time on a map wherever they are.
You can locate and monitor your wandering pet with one of 3 modes: Map (Google Map), Compass and Radar. The tracker sends an updated position every 10 seconds whatever the distance. Furthermore, you can get the GPS chip to ring from your phone or computer.
But that’s not all. Weenect Cats is also a GPS phone for cats! Yes, its not a typo – if you’re not at home, call and reassure your cat from wherever you are.
The device is ultra-light, weighing only 25g. A full recharge only takes 2 hours and lasts up to 4 days in standby mode. The gizmo is equipped with a SIM card (supplied). It therefore requires a subscription to cover the service charge.
PawTrack is not just about finding your cat when it’s lost – it’s about seeing where they go, and what they do. The company originally raised funds via Kickstarter to develop the product, but its now available for pre-order with shipping starting from end-August.
The cat monitoring collar uses GPS & GLONASS for tracking and works in over 170 countries. Pawtrack takes a location fix every 10 minutes (and on request for live tracking). These positions are stored on the collar and are then uploaded automatically or on demand.
In addition, the collar is WiFi enabled and programmed to recognise your home internet network. Once your cat returns Pawtrack recognises the WiFi signal, tells the server he’s home, downloads the latest positions and switches GPS off. When your cat leaves home it starts up again.
A built in accelerometer recognises when your cat is sleeping, resting or lazing around and shuts the collar down to conserve battery (which typically lasts around 6 days).
This is one of a select few devices that works equally well both indoors and out. And it is an option with no hidden costs as it requires no monthly subscription fees.
The range-though is only up to 500 Meters /1600 Feet as it uses radio frequencies instead of GPS. Directional tracking by using the stand-alone proprietary unit guides you to your pet. As long as the limited range is acceptable to you, Girafus presents itself as an interesting option.
The lightweight, splash-proof, second generation device offers improved battery life of up to a month. A few hours on the charger and it will be good to go for another 30 days. Those with more than one cat will be happy to know that a total of 4 individual tag-modules can be monitored with the same unit.
Originally a Kickstarter project, Findster is different from most other non-subscription options in that it offers GPS tracking at no cost (apart from the purchase price). Plus there is no SIM card or cell coverage that is needed.
The gizmo offers a real-time connection between 2 modules through something the company calls MAZE technology. One of the modules is for you, the other is attached to your pet.
The range this works on is a radius of up to a half a mile in urban areas, and 3 miles in open outdoor areas. Tracking is done via a smartphone app and you can define a safe area for immediate notification when your cat strays. The thing even doubles up as an activity tracker.
The waterproof and shock-resistant, Findster works wherever you are in the world, even off-grid. Battery life depends on whether the GPS is switched on or off. The more power-hungry setting (GPS always on) will keep going for up to 12 hours. This can be extended to 3 days with occasional GPS usage.
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