The Loc8tor Pet (now call TabCat) is a small radio-tracking device that can be attached to a cat’s collar. The radio-tags (i.e. transmitters) are only 5 grams each and the receiver is a little larger than a credit card. The maximum advertised range of the Loc8tor Pet is 400 feet. The Loc8tor is available on Amazon.com for under $100.
I placed the Loc8tor Pet radio-tag on a stuffed rabbit and placed it under the porch on the SW side of a house in a suburban neighborhood. The radio-tag is marked in green, and the maximum ranges that I picked up on the Loc8tor Pet receiver are marked with yellow pins. I also did a similar test with the radio-tag placed on my dog inside of the house. In that case, the range was only about 50 feet. The maximum range I was able to get was 411 feet from across the parking lot. Removing the minimum and maximum numbers, the average range of the Loc8tor Pet in a suburban area was 212 feet.
I did a similar test in two different wooded areas. The transmitter range in the woods was 163 feet to 400 feet with an average of 312 feet. In both the suburban area and the woods, the range was strongly effected by the topography. When the signal had to travel through buildings or hilly landscapes, the range was significantly reduced.
So far I think the Loc8tor Pet is worth purchasing as an additional safeguard in case you lose your cat. Both indoor and outdoor cats would benefit though finding a lost outdoor-access cat would probably involve a lot more walking. However, I did find one potential flaw with the design. When you push a button on the receiver to select a radio-tag to locate, the receiver will search for 45 seconds, and if it doesn’t locate the radio-tag signal in that time, it will stop searching. It makes a small two-tone beep to alert you when it stops searching, so you can press the button again and continue searching. However, it is also very easy to accidentally switch the sound off, and then you might not know when it stops searching. If you don’t press the search button again within another 45 seconds, the entire unit will shut off. Basically, you need to remember to press the search button every 45 seconds until you pick up a signal. I assume that these features were added to ensure that you didn’t accidentally turn the receiver on and drain the battery, but they compromise the effectiveness of the whole system, especially for people that are not aware of the issue. If you can afford it, the Marco Polo may be a better radio-tracking option though I haven’t had an opportunity to test this system yet.
Demo of the Loc8tor Pet receiver
4 thoughts on “Transmitter Range Test of the Loc8tor Pet Radio-Tracking System”
A few more notes on the Loc8tor Pet: waterproofing and batteries
If you do purchase the Loc8tor Pet, you may want to ensure that the transmitter is protected from moisture. The Loc8tor Pet package usually comes with several “splashproof” housing units that can be used to attach the transmitter to the cat’s collar. However, with prolonged contact to water (rain or submersion), the transmitter can still get wet. To make the transmitter waterproof, you can purchase a silicone rubber sealant (available at hardware stores) and spread a thin layer on the outside of the transmitter. There’s a YouTube video demonstrating this. Search for “Loc8tor Plus” on YouTube or try this link:
It is also important to periodically check the Loc8tor to ensure that the batteries still work in both the transmitters and the receiver. According to their website, the batteries should last nine months, but I found that several of mine only lasted six months. I have one on my dog and two on my sister’s indoor-only cats. Search around for batteries because there’s a lot of variation in price. I found the most affordable on Amazon.com (390 / 389 Energizer Watch Batteries SR1130SW Cell). A ten pack cost $9.60 with free shipping. You can try this link:
Useful review. I have one of these to find our cat. Its been on our cats collar for about 2yrs now in its splashproof case and still working fine(a few battery changes). You mention the issue about the 45sec search time, after which the transmitter/receiver goes back into standby. I find you can hear a very high pitched sound when it is trying to make initial contact with the cat’s locator tag. I assume to get the long battery life in the tag the hand unit actually first transmits a signal to wake up the tag and then listens to the tag’s reply to locate it. If no reply within the 45sec it goes to standby.
Our cat now knows when the tag starts “blipping” that we are looking for her – she will sometime come straight in for food, BUT if she does not want to be found will sometimes sit very still in the hedge until using the loca8tor I approach her and she realises she is found. Much to the annoyance of the cat in that case.
I have been using a Loc8tor on my neutered 8 yr old cat for a year. He escapes my fenced yard about once a month, and I always find him within two hours. Due to the limited range of the device, I have to conduct a “grid search” of methodically walking up and down every driveway, sidewalk and alley till I get a signal.
I agree with you about the very annoying “auto-off” feature when I am conducting a grid search.
My range tests: a maximum of 200 feet on an urban street filled with parked cars.
If my cat is in another house’s backyard, and I have to read the signal through-the-house from the front yard, then range can be as low a 50 feet….which is very hard to work with!
I finally decided to spend the extra money and try a LoCATor.
What a difference! Worth every penny! The range is TEN TIMES that of the Loc8tor in the same situation. And there is no annoying “auto shut off”. All I have to do is walk up and down my street a couple of houses and I get an initial signal. Then it takes less than two minutes to zero in on the cat.
The fit, feel, and manufacturing quality are a world apart from a Loc8tor.
I will never go back to the Loc8tor again!
Only downsides that I can see:
1) coin-sized battery in the collar must be replaced every month. But the batteries are available everywhere and cost less than $2….an insignificant increase in the average monthly cost of owning a cat.
2) The collar transmitter is about twice the size and weight of the Loc8tor collar unit. My 12 lb cat didn’t even notice the change. But perhaps not for a smaller cat.
I tell everybody who asks to forget about the Loc8tor and just spend the extra money for the LoCATor, and get yourself a product that is way more useful when your cat is lost!
> coin-sized battery in the collar must be replaced every month. But the batteries are available everywhere and cost less than $2….an insignificant increase in the average monthly cost of owning a cat.
If you buy the batts on eBay you can get 100 batts for about two POUNDS (INCLUDING POSTAGE) from China – I kid you not. Huge mark up on batts at your local store!