Anyone used GPS trackers on outdoor cats? How well do they work?
November 26, 2014 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought one of those Tile things to find your lost keys, things, etc, and they do mention putting one on your pet's collar as a use-case. It's all bluetooth, so I assume it's only good for ~30ft or so away, but I can't find any reviews of it (or similar things) online. Has anyone ever used one with an outdoor cat? Does it work reliably?

I can't find any real-world reviews of these things, just copy and pasted press releases from each company on blogs. I can't even find details of what the exact range of a Tile is.
posted by mathowie to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What do you want to use it for? Just finding the cat? It should work okay for that. I'm finding more like ~50ft range indoors, so you might get even a little bit more with no barriers. It's definitely not going to map your cat's movements (although Whistle says they'll have that functionality as of next summer). Tile seems to be having the same problem as Trackr, which is that the real promise of crowd-sourcing the location services to anyone with the app installed on the phone doesn't work as well as promised. Mostly because the app isn't great.
posted by one_bean at 1:31 PM on November 26, 2014

Have you tested the tiles on any objects yet? My boss got a set and they don't work at all. @Burmaadventurecat, on instagram, has a gps tracker, & his human discusses it from time to time
posted by janey47 at 3:02 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

No-one that I know of is offering actual continuous GPS tracking for cats - it just requires too much power to be made that small. Garmin and Tagg have GPS-enabled collars that will send periodic updates when the cat is outside a geofenced area, when what you really want is to know affirmatively that the cat is safe at home. There are a bunch of products such as Loc8tor that show radio signal strength, the ones I've tried didn't work that well to find a cat outdoors but it was nice to be able to verify that the cat was home. PawTrack is a Kickstarter that looks promising but won't ship 'til "late 2015".
posted by nicwolff at 3:09 PM on November 26, 2014

It's not GPS, but I have used Loc8tor with my indoor-outdoor cats and love it. The range is something like 500 feet, and it works surprisingly well for me, even with obstacles like the house itself.
posted by oxisos at 3:31 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just got a Tile but have not used it yet. According to Amazon: "While Tile does NOT have GPS real-time location information, the app does automatically record the last place your phone saw your Tile. Because if you have to retrace your steps, it's good to know where to start looking."

So if you lose your cat, Tile will tell you the last place it connected with your cat within Bluetooth range, which is only 100 feet. This is great for keys or purses or other inanimate objects, but not so great for cats. Unless your cat doesn't move around very much.

You can of course track your cat if it is in range of your phone, but if that's the case, you can probably find the cat through low-tech means.
posted by BradNelson at 7:58 AM on November 28, 2014

FWIW, inspired by this thread, and taking oxisos recommendation, I purchased the NEW Loc8tor Pet Handheld Finder Locator Cat Dog Keys, which is like $100 on Amazon. It works on our indoor/outdoor cat, and it's attached to his collar. What I like is that it is quite small and can be attached to clasp the collar, rather than be a pendant. Operating the device is quite simple, and so far, we've found it quite effective.

One thing to be aware of, is that the range is quite limited and obstacles such as buildings can be a problem. Therefore, what you need to do is be aware of possible places your cat visits - basically what your cat's range and territory is. Then you go around turning the device in your hand 360 degrees, until you get a signal.

A bonus that we have found is that the cat learns that when his collar beeps, it means we are close by and looking for him, so he comes out (from under a car, or from under a building etc.). Now, this I suspect is individual to a cat, but reading the reviews it appears to be very common behavior for cats. YMMV.

Bottom line, we are so far very pleased with this device, though we've barely had it for a couple of weeks.
posted by VikingSword at 9:03 PM on December 8, 2014

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