Which Is Better: A Cat Collar With GPS Or A Radio Frequency Cat Tracker?

I’d break this answer down to the comfort of my cats or cost.

Meaning, the weight of the collar and the device. I’d say thats the major difference and deal breaker for me.

After researching thoroughly and seeing what others have experienced, we’ve come to like the Whistle 3 GPS cat tracker.

Especially if you have a wandering kitty that has no boundaries, using GPS to track your cat’s secret outdoor life seems best.

Although the majority of cats are smart enough to make their own way home (thats where the food’s at), that’s no consolation when you little furry friend has been missing for two days.

cat tracker for lost cat sitting on a rock wall

We tend to let our cats wander free without worry until a day goes by and… they’re gone.

Losing your cat can be one of the most heartbreaking things.

Recent study by the ASPCA found of the households that had owned cats in the last five years, 95 percent had lost a cat.

And sadly, whereas 95 percent of dogs that go missing are found, with cats the figure drops to 75 percent.

But what if we could keep an eye on them at all times?

A personal cat radar system would help you know where your cat is and exactly where they have been wandering.

These devices are basically to help prevent ever losing your fur babe again, making sure he/she is snuggled up on the sofa right next to you where they should be.

Cat GPS Collars (A Real Time Cat Tracker)

GPS collars or collar mounted GPS devices use a global satellite positioning system in much the same way as your smartphone.

If you can use it to track down your lost iPhone, then surely you could use GPS to find your cat.

There are many GPS pet tracking systems currently available on the market which are easy to use.

Although most of them need some form of subscription to use the GPS network.

Might be a deal breaker for you but isn’t little kitty worth it? (this all depends on your situation)

This video shows a demonstration of one of the more newer subscription pet tracking systems, Pawtrack GPS, being used to track a cat:

 

Two of our favorite cat GPS tracking systems:

Both use a small lightweight and waterproof unit that simply attaches to your cats collar for 24/7 live location details of your cat. 

Pretty simple.

#1 Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor

The Whistle 3 claims to be the first tracking and activity monitor combined in one unit for your cat.

Using WiFi, Bluetooth and Cellular services for GPS enables it to have an impressive seven days or more of battery life. (some of these systems are notorious for short battery life)

A small, just over 1 inch square tile, is lightweight (0.96 ounces) and slips over your cats collar but it is only recommended for pets over 8 pounds (although I would suggest maybe 10 pounds due to the slight bulk of it) so may not be too suitable for smaller cats.

It’s a sealed unit which is both waterproof and dust proof too. That was a basic run down…

Here’s a breakdown:

DimensionsW 1.45″ — H 1.82″ — D 0.61″
Weight0.92 oz
WaterproofRated IPX7
Battery LifeUp to 7 days. Impacted by Wi-Fi strength, environment & cellular coverage.
A full recharge in 2 hours! Read more here.
AttachmentAttaches to any collar or harness up to 1″ wide
CompatibilityApple iOS 10.0 or laterAndroid 5.0 or later
Service & Product Requirement• 3G service provided by AT&T
• Subscription plans range from $6.95-$9.95 per month
• Product requires one Wi-Fi network (each)
GPS• Uses two satellite systems (GPS and GLONASS)
• Leverages local Wi-Fi and cell tower data
WiFi• Can connect to multiple Wi-Fi networks
• Data uploads via Wi-Fi when in range (extends battery life)
• Enables power save mode when in range of a Wi-Fi safe place
• Only 2.4 GHz networks are supported
BluetoothBluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
In The Box• Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor
• Collar attachment
• USB charging cable
• Quickstart guide

The tile itself needs a twisting motion to remove it, so your cat shouldn’t be able to get it off.

It won’t come off the collar unless you hold down a spring loaded button and twist, something your cat will definitely struggle to do.

So, no need to worry while your cat is out and about.

This tracker, in tests, seemed as accurate as any other model we looked at and was quick in transmitting the GPS signal back to the phone.

Like most competitor products it needs a cellular subscription which you can sign up for in the app (monthly or yearly).

The video below is a great play by play on the whistle unboxing and set-up for the app:

 

Do want it?

You can get the Whistle 3 here.

Direct from the vendor, which is what I recommend. It’s nearly the same cost as Amazon and you can set-up the subscription from the site.

#2 Tractive GPS Pet Tracker

A similar product, the Tractive uses an integrated sim card  to communicate through cell phone towers which enables you to track your pet 24/7.

Although the battery life isn’t as long as the Whistle 3 tracker, this unit has a integrated light we really liked which helps find your cat in the dark.

One of the problems with GPS systems is they only place your cat in a five to 10 meter zone, so the light may help you spot them.

But it doesn’t stop there…

A live tracking mode on either your phone or a web browser enables you to see where your cat was and where it’s heading to next. Very handy.

You’ll be glad to know, this features a Safe Zone feature (Tractive Virtual Fence)

And the cool thing is, when one of your cats leaves a designated area you set up, it alerts to your phone directly.

One unique feature of the Tractive we really loved was the ability to reward your cat with points for the calories it has burned off…

Almost like having a Fitbit for your cat!

So, stick with me here…

More important features include:

  • A clip loss alarm: which notifies you if the tag should fall off or be removed from your cats collar.
  • A heat alarm: If your cat goes missing and gets stuck in a temperature thats unsafe, you’ll also be alerted by your phone.

If you really feel like treating your cat…

This tracker even comes in a choice of designs including a pink unit with Swarovski Crystals embedded or camouflage if your cat really loves hunting!

Below is a breakdown:

DimensionsW 1.61″ – H 2.0″ – D 0.60″
Weight1.2 oz
WaterproofRated IPX7
Battery Life2-5 day battery life. Impacted by Wi-Fi strength, environment & cellular coverage.
Recharges in 2 hours.
AttachmentAttaches to any collar or harness
CompatibilityApple iOS 10.0 or laterAndroid 5.0 or later
Service & Product Requirement• 3G service
• Subscription plans range from $5.86/mon to $70.42/year
• Product requires one Wi-Fi network (each)
GPS• Uses two satellite systems (GPS and GLONASS)
• Leverages local Wi-Fi and cell tower data
• Location history available
WiFi• Can connect to multiple Wi-Fi networks
• Live Tracking
• Data uploads via Wi-Fi when in range (extends battery life)
• Only 2.4 GHz networks are supported
BluetoothBluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
Virtual FenceGet an instant notification when your pet leaves a defined safe area.
In The Box• Tractive GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor
• Collar clips
• USB charging cable
• User manual

Do you want to try this one?

You can Get The Tractive here.

There are many other GPS tracking systems on the market including models from Tagg and the Paw Tracker.

There’s even one called the Weenect for cats which integrates a call feature so you can ring the cat and reassure it…

Or if somebody finds your cat, they can ring you to say you cat is safe.

Radio Frequency Trackers for Cats

The main problem with GPS tracking systems for cats is their size and or the weight of the unit.

Although larger cats over 8 pounds shouldn’t have an issue, smaller cats may find wearing one affects their health or motion…

They won’t need a tracking device if they can’t move!

Study in New Zealand that looked at cats wearing different weights of collar mounted GPS systems concluded the device should weigh no more than 2 percent of your cats bodyweight.

In an ideal world we would have cat GPS chip implants but unfortunately the power and transmitting requirements of GPS would mean your poor little kitty resembling a futuristic sci-fi version of Robocat.

And how are you going to recharge the battery, a USB cradle you plug your cat into at night?

No way.

That’s ridiculous, I hear you scream! 

(Click here for information about implanting RFID chips for you cat. These are mainly for identification rather than tracking)

RFID tags don’t actually transmit a radio signal but rather absorb energy from a scanner and sends back an radio id tag.

Radio frequency tracking devices are an alternative solution. Although they don’t have as long a range as GPS they can pinpoint the exact location of your cat, even when indoors and not in line of sight of a satellite.

They tend to be cheaper with no monthly subscription required and have longer lasting batteries.

Most importantly they are lighter and smaller.

For less adventurous or older cats who tend to stay within a short distance from home they can be ideal for tracking them if they wander into an old garage or deserted house.

If they like to climb trees or hide in the undergrowth, a radio transmitting chip will send the location back to a base unit more accurately.

#1 TabCat Pet Tracking Collar: No Monthly Costs

The TabCat is an innovative product that uses radio frequency transmissions to help you find that hide-and-seek loving cat.

An extremely lightweight chip housing at just over 0.2 ounces compared to the 1.1 to 1.5 ounces of GPS units, simply attaches to your cats collar and has an impressive battery life of over one year.

Watch the video below to check out a demo of the Tabcat Tracker:

 

When your cat goes on walkabouts, a directional handset picks up a signal from the cats collar and tells you which way to walk to find them.

A red light indicates that you are in range of the cat with it changing to amber and finally green as you approach the cat.

A small beep on the tag can also be used to locate or train the cat to return upon hearing the beep… simply reward it with a few of his favorite treats.

The unit can cover up to 122 meters (400 feet) and guide you to within 2.5 cm (.08 feet) of your cat’s location.

Unlike GPS, radio frequencies can see through walls and will guide you to wherever the poor cat may be hiding.

Although it can’t cover the same distance as GPS, the big advantage is you don’t have to pay for any cellular subscription, just the initial cost of the unit itself which comes with two radio frequency transmitting tags included.

And now?

Well, you can take a look here for more specifics and reviews for the TabCat. <over at Amazon

Which is Best ? A GPS or Radio Frequency Pet Tracking Device for Cats?

Unfortunately…

There’s no simple answer.

It’s like asking why eight out of 10 cats prefer Whiskas?

Both systems have their advantages and pitfalls too.

GPS Cat Trackera:

If your cat tends to wander further or you live in the countryside with larger open spaces for the cat to explore, a GPS system will allow you to cover more area.

It will be able to tell you which field the cat is in but not where exactly the cat is or if it’s hiding in an outhouse.

And you have the downfall of another cellular subscription, but if it keeps your little cat safe or helps find the cat, then it’s all worthwhile.

Radio Frequency Cat Trackers:

These tend to be more cost effective but less versatile when it comes to larger areas.

Most will have a limited range of 500 meters or significantly less.

If your cat just likes to find a hiding place nearby, a radio frequency tracking system could be a great lightweight choice suitable for cats of all sizes.

If you go on holiday with your cats, then a radio frequency system could be a suitable travel companion.

In the old days, I used to simply put a name disc or barrel on the cats collar and hope if found somebody would ring the number.

But more recently I have used a GPS system which has helped return two of my purrfect cats home…

Definitely worth the subscription!

Here is a great Project where you can sign up to track your cat: CatTracker.org

Go check out the most used and highly rated GPS cat trackers here.

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