GPS pet tracking systems are a high-tech way to locate lost or stolen pets, including cats. Many are not labeled as being for cats or dogs, but the same unit is used for both species. Be sure to review the minimum weight of any unit you are considering to verify that it's an appropriate size for your feline companion.
Pod 3 GPS Tracker for Cats and Dogs
This tracker receives high marks for use with small pets. The Pod 3 GPS Tracker costs $129 and requires a subscription on a 2G/3G cellular network. Subscriptions are $8.95 per month or $59.40 per year if paid annually. The tracker is durable and waterproof. It allows you to monitor your pet's daily activity with the free smartphone app. You also have the ability to set up "virtual fences." If you do this, the tracker will notify you if your pet leaves the designated area you have created.
Tractive GPS Tracker for Small Pets
Suitable for both dogs and cats, the Tractive GPS Tracker provides real-time live tracking. The device attaches to your pet's collar and is waterproof. You can use the smartphone app to see your cat's recent location history as well. The app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.
The tracker costs around $70 and a service plan is required. The basic plan is $6.99 per month although if you pay for a one or two-year subscription there is a discount on the monthly rate. The premium plan includes worldwide coverage, unlimited location history with the ability to export to a GPZ or KML file) and premium customer service. The premium subscription is $74.99 per year or $124.99 for two years.
Whistle 3 Pet Tracker for Cats Over 8 Pounds
The Whistle 3 Pet Tracker is perfect for pets eight pounds and up, though it is only available in the United States. The app works on both iPhones and Android devices. You will need a Wi-Fi connection in your home for set-up and monitoring. When your cat leaves its safe places, the device uses GPS and cellular technology on the AT&T network for tracking. The device can also monitor your cat's daily activity for health purposes.
The device costs around $99 and requires a subscription plan through AT&T, which costs $9.95 per month with a one-year commitment. Alternately, you can pre-pay for a full year at a rate of $7.95 per month or two full years at a rate of $6.95 per month.
Findster Duo+ GPS for Cats and Dogs
If you would prefer a tracker that does not require a monthly subscription, the Findster Duo + is a good option to consider. The tracker uses real-time GPS tracking, works worldwide and does not require a cellular network. The radius for the tracker to work is up to three miles. The tracker is costs around $100 for one pet, $200 for two and $250 for three. The tracker app also has some gamification and social networking features that allow you to earn badges for certain activity milestones. There is a leaderboard where you can compare your pet's stats to others'.
Using GPS Technology for Pet Tracking
GPS is short for global positioning system, and the technology has been used in automobiles and cell phones for a long time. The technology is now also being used to help keep track of pets by adding a tracking device to the pet's collar. In theory, the system can pinpoint the location of the collar and reunite you with your pet if she is lost or stolen.
The GPS system works by using satellites. There is a transmitter on the GPS unit in the collar, and it sends out signals constantly. The satellite picks it up and can instantly send your pet's location to a computer. Many of these systems allow you to track your pet via cell phone, Internet or customer service centers. You can even set boundaries for your animal, and the system will notify you when your pet steps outside those boundaries.
This type of system provides you with a way to know where your cat is at all times, and to be able to find her quickly if she gets lost or wanders beyond the area you have designated as appropriate for her. It also provides a way to be knowledgeable about how active your pet really is, which can be beneficial for health monitoring reasons.
Disadvantages to Consider
While there are many advantages to this system, it has not always been a wise choice for cat fanciers.
- Many of these devices require you to pay a monthly fee to stay connected with the service even after you purchase the system.
- Many of the GPS systems available are really designed for dogs, so some are too large for cats. Be careful to choose a system that's appropriate for your cat's weight so you don't get one that is too heavy or bulky for use on a cat collar.
- Active cats can lose the tracking device. Make sure the option you choose fits snuggly on your cat's collar and there's no chance for it to be pulled off.
Alternative Cat Tracking Options
While GPS is the most modern way to track cats, it is not the only option.
Microchip for Cats
A simple microchip that is injected into your cat by the veterinarian can be a good alternative. The cost is about $50, though this may be included if you are adopting a cat. (Many shelters and rescue groups include a microchip in the adoption package.) The microchip cannot be tracked by satellite, but it can be scanned. If your pet is lost and ends up at a shelter, the scanner can pull up your name and other information off of the microchip. Unfortunately, not all shelters have these scanners.
Cat Radio Frequency Tracking
You could also track your cat by radio frequencies. With this system, your cat wears a collar that emits a certain frequency. A sensor beeps when you get within a certain distance of your feline, and this can help you locate her. Tabcat is a good example. The tracker has a range of up to 400 feet. The base Tabcat pack costs around $100. It contains two tags for your cat's collar and a handset tracker. While the Tabcat doesn't have the distance capabilities of GPS trackers, it does not require a subscription. This makes it an affordable option.
Keeping Your Cat Safe With GPS Tracking
It is best if you try to find these systems at a local retailer so that you can see the size and judge whether they would work for you and your cat. Ask a lot of questions and make sure you understand the limitations of these GPS pet tracking systems as well as any required subscription fees. If you do lose your pet, consider consulting a pet recovery service.