Q: My cat often goes wandering and worries me sick. What gadget can I use to track him?
Cats are curious creatures, and they love to explore, so it’s little wonder they sometimes get lost. The first essential item is a microchip that contains the cat owner’s details and can be injected into the cat’s neck fur. It is inexpensive and painless, and most vets have facilities to read these chips. But cats aren’t going to make their way to the vet by themselves. Until they do, a tracking device attached to their collars would be ideal.
GPS trackers are the most versatile, as they use satellites to pinpoint your cat’s location, but also the most expensive. The tracker sends the cat’s location information to your smartphone or computer, so you can see where it is at all times. Collar GPS trackers are the most popular, as they’re easy to attach, while tag trackers are cheaper, smaller and lighter, but more difficult to track.
The most cost-effective GPS tracker we found for pets was the Tractive GPS Tracker. It is water-resistant, has a battery life of up to 7 days, and offers two-way communication – meaning you can talk to your cat – at a price: $50 from Amazon, and $5 a month. That is still less costly than most pet competitors.
There are three popular tag options:
- Apple AirTag: Can be tracked using an iPhone or iPad, as long as the cat is in the vicinity of another iPhone user, as it connects to the Apple FindMy network via Bluetooth. Generally works superbly in areas where iPhones are prevalent, pinpointing the tag to a metres or two.
- Tile: Similar to the AirTag, the Tile Mate, Tile Pro, and Tile Slim all use Bluetooth to transmit their location to smartphones via a network of users. Highly effective, but can be limited by the spread of that network.
- Samsung Galaxy SmartTag: A small, circular tracker that can be attached to keys, wallets, or cats. It also uses Bluetooth to transmit its location to a Samsung smartphone, using the SmartThings Find network. We haven’t tested it yet.
Note that the more you spend, the more features you get. Some trackers go all the way, with the likes of activity tracking, sleep monitoring, and built-in lights.