Best Cat Tracking Devices

You can avoid the stress and heartache of not being able to find your cat by getting them a cat tracking device.  Cat trackers come in a variety of options including GPS, radio-trackers (or RFID), and Bluetooth trackers.   Contrary to the belief of many people, microchips do not have any tracking capabilities.  All of the cat trackers described here must be attached to either a collar or harness.  Several research studies have found that the risk of cats getting injured by a collar is highly exaggerated, and your cat is at a much higher risk of becoming lost and never found.  To reduce any risk, you can attach most trackers to a breakaway collar.  

GPS versus Radio-Trackers

First it can be helpful to determine if you are most interested in a GPS or a radio-tracking device for your cat.   In general, a GPS tracker is more appropriate for an outdoor-access cat, especially one that tends to wander through multiple yards or into the woods.  A GPS can also be very useful if you move to a new home with an outdoor-access cat since they are at a higher risk of going missing or even attempting to travel back to their old home.  A radio-tracker is usually best for indoor-only cats, since they don't usually travel far from their point of escape and they tend to hide really well.  Radio-trackers are also useful for traveling with your cat since a displaced cat (e.g. one lost away from home) is more likely to hide nearby though a small percentage of lost outdoor-access cats may attempt to travel back home.  Some people choose to use both a GPS and radio-tracker in order to get the best of both worlds.

How GPS Pet Trackers Work

GPS (Global Positioning System) trackers work by using satellites and, in some cases, cellular networks to locate your cat.  Most GPS pet trackers work with an app on a smart phone.  When you ask to "locate" your pet, the app will find your cat using GPS and/or cell phone coverage and indicate their location on a map along with an address (if they are near a home).  GPS locations are not always exact, so you may need to search within 100 feet or more of the indicated location to find your cat.  This may be difficult if your cat is moving around while you are searching.  Most GPS trackers do offer a tracking feature that provides repeated map locations of your cat, but this can really drain the battery.  In some situations, the GPS may not be able to get a location on your cat.


Overall, low battery life is the biggest drawback of a GPS tracker.  If your cat stays near the house, the battery may last for a week or longer, but once outside the home base (usually determined by your WiFi range), the battery will quickly drain in a few days.  Many escaped indoor-only cats are too frightened to come out of hiding even for their owner and need to be humanely trapped.  If you are not able to locate and catch your cat within a few days, their GPS battery will likely go dead.   

GPS Pros


  • Can locate your cat even if they have traveled far from home.
  • Provides a mapped location of your cat.
  • Sends a notification when your cat travels outside a set "safe zone" around your home.
  • Sends a notification when the battery level is low so that you know to recharge it in time.

GPS Cons


  • Device is larger and heavier than a radio-tag.  Generally not suitable for small cats.
  • Most require a monthly subscription plan and home WiFi.
  • Battery needs to be recharged often.  If your cat stays near the house, the battery may last for a week or longer, but once outside the home base (usually determined by your WiFi range), the battery will quickly drain in a few days.  
  • May not be able to get a signal depending on GPS and/or cell coverage in the area.  Also may not work if your cat is trapped in a basement or hiding underground.

Best GPS Cat Trackers

If you are looking for a GPS pet tracker, don't bargain shop.  There are some relatively cheap ones available, but you often get what you pay for when it comes to reliability and quality of service.  Before making a purchase, be sure to check out reviews on their site and a trusted third-party site like Amazon or Ebay.  Based on my research and experience, these are the GPS trackers that I recommend.

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker

The Whistle 3 is one of the highest-rated and affordable GPS pet trackers.  This is the one that I use on my search dog Dante and would personally recommend.  My cats use radio-trackers, but this is also a good GPS for cats .  It is light enough for even relatively small cats and can be attached to a breakaway collar.  For a GPS, it has a relatively long battery life of up to one week.  You will also receive a notification when the battery is low and it quickly charges in less than 2 hours.  

Whistle-3-GPS-Pet-Tracker-Activity-Monitor-0-0

Yes, I know these are all photos of dogs.  Cat photos coming as soon as my cats cooperate.

Where to Buy Whistle 3

Whistle 3 is available from Amazon.com, but if you buy directly from Whistle.com, you get a 90-day money back guarantee.  They also offer FREE 2-day shipping.

Whistle 3 GPS Features


  • Light and durable.  Weighs only 0.92 ounces (26 g) and is suitable for cats weighing 8 lbs or more.  Shock resistant and waterproof (IPX7).
  • Uses advanced GPS and cellular technology to pinpoint your cat's location anywhere in the U.S. using America's largest cell phone network, AT&T.
  • Set up "Safe Places" to receive text, app, or email notifications when your cat leaves their safe place and before they travel too far away.
  • Use the new Trip Monitor feature to learn where your cat goes.  Records locations over the past 24 hours whenever your cat leaves their "Safe Place."
  • Not too expensive and has one of the lowest cost GPS subscription plans.
  • Has the longest-lasting battery of its kind and can last up to 7 days.  Receive a notification when the battery gets low; recharges in only 2 hours.

Pawtrack GPS Cat Collar

Pawtrack is the only GPS tacking collar designed specifically for cats, and it works in multiple countries.  Compared to Whistle 3, it has a better, more streamlined fit for your cat.  In addition to using the smartphone app, you can also view your cat tracks and manage collar settings via computer. The biggest drawback to this GPS is the very short battery life.  The battery only lasts 2 days, but it comes with a second battery pack so that you can easily switch them out.  The Pawtrack collar costs almost twice as much as the Whistle 3, but it comes with one free year of tracking followed by a much lower annual subscription fee.  


Unlike other GPS pet trackers, Pawtrack also has a Beacon mode.  This feature makes the collar emit a signal that is picked up by your smartphone and helps you pinpoint the location of your cat.  Since GPS locations are often not exact and cats sometimes move around or hide, this is a great extra feature for a GPS collar. 

Where to Buy Pawtrack

Pawtrack is only available on Pawtrack.com.  Generally requires pre-order and is not kept in stock.  You have 14 days from the time you receive the collar to let them know if you want to return it for a refund, but they may be able to arrange extra time to evaluate the collar if needed.  

Pawtrack GPS Features


  • Only GPS collar designed specifically for cats - GPS is integrated into the collar which has a breakaway design for safety. 
  • Collar weighs 1.23 ounces (35 g), which is suitable for most adult cats, and comes in three collar sizes.  Splash proof design is okay in the rain, but is not waterproof.
  • Uses Gallileo, Glonass, GPS, and WiFi to track your cat almost anywhere in the world.
  • Advanced app features:  Set up geo-fence boundaries around your home to get notifications when your cat leaves this area.  View your cat's travels over the past 24 hours and you can even download the data as a CSV (Excel compatible) file. 
  • Collar initially costs more, but includes one free year of tracking and has by far the lowest cost annual subscription plan.
  • Battery only lasts 2 days on average, but includes a second battery pack so you can easily switch them out.  You will also receive a notification when the battery is low.

How Radio-Tracking Devices Work

Radio-trackers use radio frequency signals and require a transmitter (radio-tag) to send the signal and a receiver (handheld device) to receive the signal.  Basically, your cat wears a small radio-tag on their collar, and you have to walk around with a handheld receiver to try and locate your cat.  The receiver will beep louder the closer you get to your cat.  Radio-trackers can transmit signals through buildings, so you can still locate your cat if they are trapped in a shed or basement.  


The main drawback to radio-trackers is that they usually have a limited range, generally anywhere from 100 feet up to 2 miles depending on the strength of the signal and the terrain you are searching.  The signal will travel much farther in open areas compared to wooded areas or through buildings.   In order to easily find your cat with a radio-tracking device, you will need to practice.  The signal can be difficult to follow depending on the terrain and where your cat is located.  

Radio-Tracker Pros


  • Generally smaller and lighter than a GPS, so can be used by even small cats and kittens.
  • Batteries last much longer than a GPS.  May last for six weeks to several months depending on the radio-tracker.
  • One time payment.  Does not require a monthly subscription plan.
  • Works anywhere!  Does not require internet, GPS or cell coverage.
  • Once your cat's signal is picked up, the receiver allows you to follow it right up to their exact hiding spot.  Some radio-tags will even flash or beep to make finding them easier once you are close.  

Radio-Tracker Cons


  • Your cat needs to be within range of the receiver in order for the signal to be picked up.  Depending on the device this may be anywhere from 100 feet up to 2 miles.  
  • The signal can sometimes be difficult to follow and requires practice to use it easily.  
  • Does not give you any notification that the battery needs to be recharged or replaced.

Best Cat Radio-Tracking Devices

There aren't nearly as many radio-tracking devices available on the market as there are GPS trackers.  However, in general, they are smaller and more suitable for most cats.  You may be tempted to try the cheaper option of a Bluetooth tracker such as Tile, but these generally aren't as reliable as a radio-tracker.  Bluetooth trackers are designed to find lost things and aren't designed to safely stay on a cat collar.  Before making any purchase, be sure to check out reviews on their site and a trusted third-party site like Amazon or Ebay.  Based on my research and experience, these are the radio-trackers that I recommend.

TabCat Pet Tracker (a.k.a. Loc8tor Pet)

TabCat (also called Loc8tor Pet) is one of the smallest, affordable cat radio-tracking devices.  The tracker comes with two transmitter tags and one receiver, and you can buy up to two additional tags.  Easy to use; just turn on the small handheld receiver, select the missing cat's tag, and start searching.  Once the radio-tag's signal is picked up, the receiver will begin to beep and flash, and the closer you get to your cat, the louder and brighter it will get.  Once you are quite close, you can turn off the volume, and listen for the beeping of the radio-tag attached to your cat's collar.  


The biggest drawback of TabCat is its relatively short range of only 400 feet in open terrain.  If your cat is outside of this range, then you need to search around until you pick up a signal.  Realistically it will pick up a signal within 200-300 feet if your cat is in the woods or only 50 feet if your cat is stuck in a basement.  However, even with the short range, it often works well for escaped indoor-only cats since they usually hide nearby.  I have had a few cases where it helped locate lost outdoor-access cats.  First the general location of the cat was determined with posters, and then they were able to go to that location and quickly track down their cat with the locator.  My own cats Lily and Violet are still wearing their Loc8tor Pet trackers, which I purchased in 2015.  

loc8tor pet or tabcat

Where to Buy TabCat

TabCat is available from Amazon.com, but you may find it labeled as the Loc8tor Pet.  This is the old name, but if you look at the photos, most vendors are actually selling the newer TabCat.  

Buy from Amazon button

TabCat Features


  • One time payment.  Unlike GPS trackers, a radio-tracker does not require a subscription plan.
  • Small enough for cats and kittens.  Tag  weighs only 0.25 ounces.  Attaches to your cat's existing collar and can be used with breakaway collars.
  • Maximum range of up to 400 feet in open area.  Works anywhere!  Does not require internet, GPS or cellular networks.  
  • Splash-proof cover protects tags from the elements.
  • Easy to use with just a little practice.  Simply push the ON button, then select the tag for the missing cat and start searching.
  • Batteries usually last several months.  Uses replaceable CR2032 button cell batteries. 

Marco Polo Pet Tracker

If you want a radio-tracker with longer range and more reliability, then you should check out the Marco Polo.  Easy to set up and use; just press a single button to start searching, and Marco Polo will scan up to 2-miles (in open terrain).  As soon as your cat is located, you will receive real-time distance and direction feedback to help track down your cat.  Marco Polo is the highest rated radio-tracker pet locator on Amazon.com

Where to Buy Marco Polo

Marco Polo is available on Amazon.com and often includes free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime.  

Buy from Amazon button

Marco Polo Features


  • Search range up to 2-miles in open terrain.  Works anywhere!  Does not require internet, GPS or cellular networks.  
  • Small enough for cats weighing at least 5 lbs.  Just attach to your cat's existing collar.
  • One time payment.  Unlike GPS trackers, a radio-tracker does not require a subscription plan.
  • Includes a rechargeable battery that lasts up to six weeks on a single charge.
  • Tracking tags are waterproof and can even handle prolonged swimming.
  • Package comes with equipment for a single pet, but it will handle up to three pets with the purchase of additional tracking tags.

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