Looking to purchase a GPS cat Tracker? After a long time trawling the internet I believe I have found the best cat GPS tracker. Here is my honest review and experience with the Tractive GPS Tracker.
I have three cats – Bailey, Belle (A Disney inspired cat name) and Rue. Much like every cat owner, I think my cats are the best in the world (mainly because they are all ginger and adorable) but like some cats, Bailey, the oldest of the three likes to think of himself as a bit of explorer which is why we took the decision to buy him a Tractive GPS Pet Tracker.
It was at the grand age of eleven that we decided he needed a cat GPS tracker after he went missing for a night. To give a bit of background on Bailey, he is never usually more than 3 gardens away and is not allowed out at night, so it was very unusual for him, we believe he most likely got locked in a shed or garage.
Therefore, for peace of mind in future we decided to look into GPS cat trackers.
The Best Cat GPS Tracker 2023
I spent a long time looking online at various pet trackers, many of which are only aimed at dogs and I found it hard to find in-depth reviews of the ones which were for cats.
My requirements for the tracker collar were:
- It was comfortable for Bailey
- It had a quick safety release
- It was reliable.
In the end, we decided on the Tractive GPS Cat tracker.
After a few weeks of Bailey using it, I am glad we chose this one and believe it to be one of the best cat GPS tracker currently on sale.
What exactly do the Tractive cat tracker and other GPS collars do?
“The Tractive GPS CAT Tracker allows you to follow your cat on their expeditions through the neighbourhood by showing the path in the free Tractive GPS smartphone app. It also provides you with real-time location and the activity information of your cat so that you know where your cat is and how much your cat is moving during the day.”
Essentially, it allows you to know where your outdoor cat is at all times as long as their collar is charged. As I mentioned, we purchased the collar for peace of mind after Bailey wandered a bit too far and I believe this is why most people do purchase cat trackers.
However, as someone who works in the Veterinary industry and with a particular interest in cat behaviour, I also find the information provided pretty fascinating which I will get on to later in this post.
Features of the Tractive cat tracker
- Safety first: built-in breakaway collar
- Live Tracking: track your cat in real-time on your smartphone
- Activity Monitoring: view your cat’s fitness
- Fits neck sizes from 7.5 to 11.8 in (19-30 cm)
- Recommended for cats above 7.7 lbs (3.5 kg)
For any animal, it is essential the collar is a quick release, this is for safety reasons and I would not recommend buying any collar which does not highlight this feature.
The collar itself is quite bulky in size however it is lightweight and I do not feel it is putting any strain of Bailey’s neck. Since fitting the collar he has not been bothered or shown any attention to it at all.
Unfortunately, you cannot fit any ID tags to the GPS collar therefore he does now wear two collars.
To get an idea of the size of the collar Bailey is 5.5kg and is a muscular cat. The collar is recommended for cats over 3.5kg, I would probably say this is generous and to take it on an individual basis.
How does the Tractive collar work?
The Tractive GPS Tracker works to find your pet by using an integrated GPS chip that continuously calculates its current location. This GPS data is sent to Tractive servers every few minutes in default tracking mode, and every 2-3 seconds in LIVE Tracking mode.
An integrated, non-exchangeable SIM card enables the communication between the GPS device and Tractive GPS smartphone app and web app. This does mean you will need mobile coverage in order for you to be able to use the tracker.
How Accurate Is The GPS Collar?
The Tractive website states “According to the U.S. SPS Performance Standard, GPS signals provide an accuracy of 7.8 meters (25 ft) at a 95% confidence level when calculating the distance between satellite and receiver.”
From our experience with the collar so far I would say we have received better results than this and 95% Bailey is extremely close to where the live location is telling us he is.
When ‘live location’ is not activated the GPS app updates sporadically, in general, we find this to be every 5- 10 minutes it will tell us his last location.
Another feature of the GPS cat collar is that you can set boundaries. Meaning if your cat wanders further than this boundary you will get an app notification alerting you to go fetch them and bring them back. At present, due to Bailey’s movements, we haven’t felt the need to test this option but it is nice knowing it is there if needed.
The collar runs on a battery which is said to last 2-5 days, however, again I would say this is generous and would say ours lasts around 2 days. Tractive does state the battery will run down quicker the more you use ‘live location’ so for us, this is most likely why.
You can monitor the battery life via the app and we remove his collar at nighttime for charging then replace when he goes out again the morning.
So, how much does the Tractive Cat GPS Collar cost?
At present, it is priced, very competitively on Amazon (with free postage on Amazon Prime). Most collars we researched were within the price range of £40-£100.
However, the Tractive collar does have additional subscription fees on top of this to allow the collar to work. These come in the form of a basic and premium subscription.
It does look like there is a big difference between the two subscriptions, however, it really depends on your needs and I do believe the general user, who just wants to know where their cat is, can get away with just the basic subscription.
We chose premium due to the unlimited location history.
With the basic subscription, location history is only available for 24 hours, after this it is wiped, with the premium you have continuous access. From a veterinary behavioural interest, I find have the continuous access fascinating. You can go back through each day and really begin to understand your cat’s territory and boundaries. The map will also have ‘heat spots’ these will be shown as red dots and are indications of where your cat potentially stops for a nap.
At times, we have had the odd unusual location on past locations, which we are unsure if is accurate (however, we could never confirm this) but 9/10 his daily route is in line with where we always believe he goes.
Any Other Additional Fees?
You can opt to active ‘Tractive Cares’ – When activated Tractive Care will provide you with a one-time replacement unit should the device be lost, stolen, or damaged at any time throughout the subscription period.
Since our purchase of the Cat GPS collar in May 2019, Bailey has lost his collar once. Due to use having the ‘Tractive Cares’ insurance we received a new collar within a week for no additional charge.
If your cat does come home without their collar, there is a feature within the app to make the collar flash and beep. The feature is there to help you find the collar should it be lost nearby.
How hard is the GPS collar and App to set up?
My parent’s set everything up and they are not the most technology-minded. They also commented on how easy the set up is. At present, the have the app on both their mobile phones (Apple, the app is also available on Android) as well as an Ipad.
The app itself is easy to navigate and well set up. The app also has some cute features like being able to fill in Bailey’s details and change the location icon to a photo of him instead of just a blue circle – this feature would be especially helpful if you had multiple cats with collars as you could quickly tell which cat is where.
When locating your cat or monitoring their previous whereabouts there are three types of map:
Satellite – The satellite map shows only satellite images of the map area.
Standard – The street map shows only streets in the map area and no satellite images.
Open Street Map -The open street map option shows an open-source software-powered map that is created by people. Anyone can add information to this map type via www.openstreetmap.org.
Switching between the three is simple and I prefer the standard map for easy locating.
The app is also where you can set boundaries as previously mentioned, this is known of the app as a ‘virtual fence’.
The Tractive GPS dog tracker does have an option to activate a LED light on the tracker via the app, at present this is not available for cats however I hope in future they do, especially if you are looking for your cat during the dark.
Would I recommend the Tractive GPS cat collar?
At present my review of the Tractive GPS cat collar is positive. I was sceptical of all the collars when purchasing due to the lack of personal reviews and opinions available but I am pleased with chose Tractive.
While the Tractive collar is not always 100% accurate, it has never been too far off. Tractive doe state environmental factors can interfere with the GPS (Like most GPS) so this is something to be aware of.
I believe the collar is competitively priced in comparison to other cat tracking collars but do feel potentially they could make the price of the subscription fee more present when purchasing to prevent any unexpected surprises (this was not the case for us).
The price for peace of mind knowing where Bailey, when needed, is worth it, and we will happily keep on paying the subscription for cat tracker as long as Bailey continues to be comfortable in the collar.
What alternative Cat tracker options are there?
Well, for cats, at present your options are actually pretty limited. However, if you have an iPhone, an Apple AirTag could also be a good option. While it would not have the added benefits of history tracking and heat spots, it will give you a very accurate location on your phone.
You can also now purchase cat collars with air tag attachments, which are actually less bulky than the Tractive collars discussed in this post. As an Android phone owner, this option isn’t currently open to me, but one I would very much consider if I had an Apple phone.