Want to learn more about trackers for your cat? Let’s go!
Have you ever “lost” your cat? Even temporarily? Why didn’t I think about a tracker before this day!?!
The details of this story are true! I am NOT making this up!
“Biscuit!!! Biscuit!!” we yelled, as my 5-year-old daughter and I were driving around my street at 8:00 in the pitch black night. We’d gotten home an hour earlier. The garage door wasn’t shut yet and sneaky Biscuit ran out under my feet as I opened the door to the house.
Not the first time. And not the last. Before we had her, Biscuit was a cat that was previously surrendered to my clinic after a good Samaritan found her after having been hit by a car.
Was she owned before and got out? Or was she an outdoor kitty to begin with? We’ll never know, but nonetheless she loves the outdoors.
But this time was different. She didn’t just go under the truck. She scooted her little butt right on out the garage door.
Suddenly there is the unmistakable sound of cats fighting!
She’s gotten herself into a cat fight with some random cat that just so happened to be outside our house! Nope, I’ve never seen this cat before. There are a few outdoor cats in our neighborhood, but not many.
I went to try and stop this cat fight and grab her (not sure what my plan was, but I would’ve figured it out) and she climbed the neighbor’s wooden fence just as fast as any cat can go! The other cat? I think he was with her too. It was all a blur. Yep, this is bad.
And because I was so focused on her, the door was left open and out comes Sioux! So, Sioux went left…Biscuit went right! Argh!!!
Biscuit is gone. Sioux is in the yard. I’m able to grab him (after tripping in the grass and losing my keys) and get him back inside.
I’m panicking. I find a flashlight and we find my keys. Into the truck we go.
We live on a “circle” so we drive around with the windows rolled down, yelling Biscuit’s name and shaking a treat bag. I drive to the house that sits directly behind mine. It’s abandoned (I think?) so I go in the backyard with my flashlight, hoping someone doesn’t see me and call the cops.
We drive around the circle for an hour. No Biscuit is to be found. Yes, she has a microchip. All my cats do (and yours should too!). But that’s not going to help me in this immediate situation.
We go home. I’m trying to keep it together. You know that saying, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be.”
That’s how I was feeling. Biscuit, we love you, but if you don’t love us back then so be it. We were heartbroken.
Thirty minutes later Biscuit is crying at the garage door, wanting in. I shake my head, roll my eyes and give her a hug. Of course, she acts like nothing ever happened.
It was after that incident that I started researching trackers for pets (cats, specifically). I’d seen a few patients of mine wearing them and had asked their owners to tell me more.
After looking into all the different types, I settled on the Apple AirTag and Tractive CAT device, which is now the Tractive CAT Mini. Why just two choices? I don’t like being overwhelmed with choices!
Don’t present me with fifteen different shades of beige to paint my walls. Give me three options and I’ll decide.
You’re also not going to read about every different spec possible…only the main points that make a difference. I bought both so I could test them out. Here’s a summary of my findings.
*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products that we believe in! I am an affiliate for both Amazon and other online retailers. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Here are two different “trackers” for your cat!
|Size||At 2.1” x 1.1” x 0.6” the Mini is still bigger than the AirTag but it’s totally doable (unless you’re trying to fit a kitten but she’ll grow into it soon!). It comes with a silicone holder (and breakaway collar) that I can easily wash off after Biscuit rolls in the dirt!||1.5” round and tons of AirTag silicone holders available to choose from that will fit on your cat’s collar. I chose this holder.
|Technology||GPS with SIM card which allows “real-time” tracking. Also uses Bluetooth for additional info.
||Bluetooth (not GPS) – this is what makes the AirTag not a real “tracker.”|
|Subscription info||Yes – two plans to choose from, different costs, different options (such as worldwide coverage and family sharing).||No – you purchase the tag, remove the battery cover, connect it to the app and go.
|App (i.e. how to use it!)||“Tractive GPS” app:
||“Find My” app (for iPhones):
NOTE – You can’t use AirTags with Android devices unless you get a special app called Tracker Detect.
|Cost||As of 6/23, the CAT Mini + adjustable collar is $49.99 (subject to change!). Then add as low as $5-6/month for the subscription if you pay in advance. It also comes with it’s own silicone holder and breakaway collar.||As of 6/23, $27.99 for one or $89 for a four-pack (subject to change!). If you want an AirTag just get the four-pack and put the extras on your keys, luggage, etc! Remember, you’ll need your own silicone holder and collar.|
|Customer Service||Excellent! I received prompt and CLEAR email replies when contacting them about questions I had. You could tell the rep knew what they were talking about.||I’m an Apple person and I’ve always found them to have excellent customer service! They once completely replaced my computer that was one month out of warranty just because “it was the right thing to do.”
|Battery||Per Tractive: the models “use trusted WiFi sources such as your home WiFi to establish Power Saving Zones. With this feature, our trackers have a battery life of up to 7 days.” Personally, I rarely have to charge Biscuit’s Tractive… maybe every month? Plus, I get an alert that lets me know when the battery is getting low.
|Designed to last about a year. Replace with a standard CR2032 battery.
|Summary||This is a great tracker for cats who are already allowed outdoors or who are likely to get out. You can track their activity and territory which is pretty cool! If you want all the technology and a REAL TRACKER, then go with the Tractive CAT Mini. It’s still my choice for sneaky Biscuit!
||This is a good product for those cats for whom the device is really more for peace of mind. We can’t really call it a “tracker” because of it’s limitations (i.e. see “technology” above), so I call it a “finder.” I like the AirTag’s small size and it’s basic nature. I’ve got one on Sioux and Bacon as they are not escape artists… and on my keys!
Once you take into consideration the silicone holders, the footprint of the devices are about the same.
A note about the Tractive CAT Mini:
The Mini came out in May 2023. I was excited to hear this because the standard Tractive CAT was pretty big on Biscuit. It looked like she was wearing a house arrest ankle bracelet on her neck!
When I contacted Tractive to see about purchasing the Tractive CAT Mini (I already had the standard version) and whether it would qualify for my same “plan,” I was pleased to find out that because I had the optional Tractive Care plan I was eligible for the Mini at NO additional cost other than shipping! Awesome!
Also, both the Tractive CAT Mini and an AirTag fit easily on standard collars. As a veterinarian, I ONLY ever recommend a breakaway collar for a cat as you never know what they could get hung up on! Ah, but what if the collar breaks off? Well, that’s no bueno but that’s exactly why you also need to have your cat microchipped!
(P.S. All vets and shelters have microchip scanners and if your cat is taken to one of these locations they will be scanned. Remember to update your personal info with your microchip provider!)
I have always loved the breakaway collars from Lupine as they are really high quality AND have a lifetime guarantee (which I have absolutely taken advantage of before)! How many products do you know of that have lifetime guarantees?
In summary, I love Biscuit’s Tractive CAT Mini tracker and have so much more piece of mind with her wearing it. Now she can go out in our fenced backyard unsupervised, having fun exploring!
The boys (Bacon and Sioux) will stick with their AirTag and I’ve learned my lesson to keep them inside when neighbors are repairing their roof!
POST UPDATE 8/23: I decided to add an AirTag to Biscuit as well. Why? Because when she’s “safe in the home zone” but I still can’t find her the AirTag can pick her up without having to change the Tractive settings.
Bacon, chewing on the props for my photo shoot!
Comment below… Has your cat ever gone missing? Could he/she have used a tracker?