Should you invest in a GPS tracking collar for cats? This review has the answers you’re looking for. Find out which brand is the best bang for your buck.
Remember in the movie, Meet the Parents, how Ben Stiller’s character, Greg, accidentally let his in-laws’ cat escape? If you do, you probably recall just how much he had to struggle and stress out in his search for poor Jinxy. The movie’s intention was comedic, but there’s nothing funny about losing your beloved pet. As any pet owner will tell you, the worst thing that can happen to a pet is if it’s lost, stolen or sick.
How do you find a lost cat? We won’t take Greg’s approach in this case — all he wanted to do was milk his in-laws for attention. So, we looked to the experts. A group of researchers in Australia surveyed and cataloged 1210 missing cats to get some insights into missing cat search strategies.
Here’s what the study found:
15% of cat owners lose their cat in a 5-year period and some are never found
1 out of 3 cats are found alive within 7 days, with a decreasing chance of being found over a 2-month period
Most house cats don’t venture far from home — 75% were found within a 500 m (1640 ft) radius
And the most glaring finding — only 1 kitty out of 1210 had a cat GPS tracker collar!
We invest a lot of love and energy into our furry friends. And imagining your pet being trapped, alone and hungry can make even the coldest heart burn with fearful dread. But how can we prevent this from happening? Is there a way to improve your chances of finding a lost cat?
The answer is obvious, and the study confirms our logic — you need to think about getting a cat GPS collar or other type of tracking device. In this review, we’ll go over the top-10 and dissect exactly what makes a good tracking collar so if your pet ever gets lost, you won’t be worried or fear the worst.
What to Look for in the Best Cat GPS Tracker and Other Types of Tracking Devices
Build and Durability
Tracking devices come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some are more cumbersome, heavier and they may even make your cat uncomfortable. So one of the main things you have to look for is build quality — will the device be weatherproof and able to withstand a cat’s curiosity?
Battery life is another deal maker or deal breaker. It becomes tedious if you have to charge the tracker every day and this is especially a concern if your cat is missing for more than a day. Ideally, the tracker should have a standby mode or like in some devices, battery-saving modes that connect to WiFi or Bluetooth instead of a mobile network.
The next important factor is technology. There are three options: GPS, Bluetooth or RF (radiofrequency). Some devices on the market have a combination of 2 or more technologies, but we’ve found the battery life tradeoff isn’t worth it.
GPS trackers use a global navigation system that connects to satellites around the globe. They offer the widest detection range and usually come with an app you can use to get visual information and real-time tracking capabilities. One thing to consider is that a GPS tracker for cats will likely require you to pay for a mobile data plan (2G/3G/LTE) because the device needs to connect to a mobile network to relay the location info to your phone.
Bluetooth trackers have hands-down the best battery life out of all three technologies. They’re also less expensive and come with an app like the GPS collars. However, they come with some serious caveats. While you’ll see many manufacturers claim a range of 300+ feet, the reality is — most don’t live up to those numbers. And what’s more — like we mentioned above, most cats are found within a 1640 ft radius, which is well out of Bluetooth range.
RF trackers are like homing beacons. Or, if you remember the kid’s game “Hot and Cold” — it’s very similar to that. Instead of an app, you get an RF receiver which detects when your pet is within range and either beeps, lights up or vibrates more intensely as you get “warmer” to your lost furball. RF devices are very affordable and the battery life is amazing. The range isn’t comparable to GPS, however, going off the study, some trackers will perform past 1640 ft.
Many trackers also include additional features like activity tracking, virtual fences (alerts you when your cat leaves the area you set up in the app), and two-way communication (yes, you can actually talk to your pet or try to attract the attention of a passerby).
Now that you have an understanding of what to look for, let’s find the best cat locator device for your pet.
Here Are the Top 10 Best Cat GPS Trackers in 2021:
Heads up — this list includes GPS, Bluetooth, RF devices and one special type of tracker that uses QR code technology. Prices range from just $10 to $235 (not including subscriptions).
Eureka Technology MARCOPOLO Advanced Pet Monitoring
Eureka! This tracker made it to the top of our ratings for best cat GPS tracker for one major reason — it’s easily the most accurate, with pinpoint accuracy up to 2 miles. But it’s also the most expensive at $235. It uses RF-based technology, has rechargeable batteries (and great battery life, by the way — up to 1 month).
Whistle Go is the best GPS tracker we’ve found. It has the ability to connect to your cat’s tag via WiFi or mobile network. And depending on whether your cat likes to roam around outside (out of WiFi range), battery life may vary. Rated IPX 8 — which is a plus if you have an aquatic kitty.
Furtrieve: The World's Most Comprehensive Pet Tracking System
Another great GPS tracker with a host of cool features — two-way voice communication, alert up to 10 contacts of your cat’s last known location, and an activity tracker to make sure your kitty is getting his/her daily steps in.
Loc8tor Pet Tracker (currently sold as Tabcat Pet Tracker)
Loc8tor is another RF-based technology device at a more affordable price point — just under $100. Super lightweight tag and receiver make this a great option for petite felines. Being an RF-tracker, battery life is, as expected, phenomenal (2-4 months depending on use).
CAT TAILER The Smallest and Lightest Bluetooth Waterproof Cat Tracker
According to the cat GPS tracker reviews, this is the top Bluetooth tracker on the market. Comes with a super intuitive app, a 6-month battery life and decent range of up to 328 ft. This tracker is a good option for indoor cats or for people with big yards or houses.
A GPS tracker that costs $120 but doesn’t include subscription fees (unlike the Whistle). Findster doesn’t use a mobile network. Instead, it uses a proprietary technology called MAZE. It has impressive app features (virtual fence, activity monitoring) and it’s one of the most stylish trackers on our list.
PetTouch is an outlier on this list because it’s neither Bluetooth, RF or GPS. This $10 tag uses “smart” technologies — the back of the tag has a scannable QR Code and NFC capabilities, so when someone finds your pet, they can simply scan the code and using the information you program into the tag via PetTouch’s app, they can return your cat.
Tails-us is a GPS tracker that requires a prepaid SIM card. May be a deal breaker for some, however, it’s one of two trackers that can work outside the US. It includes a collar which is a big plus for people on a budget. The Tail-us tracker has most of the features you’d expect, like alerts, notifications and activity tracking. For the aquatically-inclined cats, Tails-us is a good fit as it’s waterproof.
Alliner is a cat GPS tracker, cheap and a bit outdated, that uses 2G (yikes!) and GPS. Like the Tails-us, it works outside the US, is waterproof, has custom notifications and includes a collar. Battery life is so-so, at up to 4 days on standby. It supports two-way communication and has a range of up to 5000 m (3 miles). One big downside, is it requires a SIM card (not included) in order to work.
Petkit is at the bottom of our list because it doesn’t track location data. It’s a Bluetooth device with a user-friendly app that we believe could be a good addition to a tracker. It’s the best activity monitor we could find on the market. It’s like a fitness tracker for pets — monitor your pet’s activities 24/7, get reports, sleep analysis, and a nutrition + calorie tracker.
Security is more about peace of mind than a guarantee. For pet safety, there’s no foolproof option and no manufacturer offers a money-back guarantee that your pet will be found using a tracker. But we feel that for additional peace of mind, check out these three options that we believe tick all the boxes for build quality, affordability, accuracy and features (according to the ratings for best cat GPS tracker).
Eureka Marco Polo — The most expensive out of all 10 reviewed trackers, but unmatched for range and accuracy. An impressive battery life and easy-to-understand interface.
Whistle Go Explore — The best and most popular GPS tracker on the market today. Whistle’s build quality, stunning 20 day battery life and customer support blow the rest out of the water.
PetTouchID — The simplest, most affordable tracker. Syncs your contact information with the Cloud and makes it easy for whoever finds your pet to contact you.
Which tracking collar for cats is right for you?
If you live in a rural area with spotty mobile coverage — RF-based is the way to go.
For urban areas — GPS or RF.
For pet owners on a budget — PetTouch ID or Tabcat.
If you have an indoor cat and a big yard/house — Bluetooth.
For small or finicky finicky — Bluetooth trackers are generally smaller and more comfortable.
To sum it all up — if Greg Focker had had access to Whistle Go Explore or something as simple as the PetTouch ID tag, he wouldn’t have “focked” up so badly.
What is the smallest GPS cat tracker?
GPS trackers get smaller every year as tinier chips hit the market. For now, the smallest options are around 1.5 inches (42 mm) high and wide. Bluetooth trackers are even smaller, with a diameter of around 1 inch, though their search range is way smaller too.
How to choose a cat GPS tracker that sends an alarm when lost?
Look for a tracker that comes with a smartphone app. Devices like Whistle, Tractive, and Petcube Bites provide flexible settings for defining a safe zone and deliver notifications when your pet leaves it.
What is the best cat GPS tracker?
If your budget allows, go for Eureka Marco Polo or Whistle Go Explore. Both come with an outstanding range and accuracy supported by great reviews. If you want a more affordable option, check out PetTouchID.
How to track your cat with GPS?
If your GPS locator comes with a mobile app, you’ll get a notification with real-time location and movement data, along with a map and directions. Some devices send coordinates via a text message, so you’ll need to find the kitty’s location on the map on your own.
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