While once prohibitively large, collar-attached trackers have gradually come down in size, and were first available for dogs. Now, a new generation of electronic monitors can help you track your feline friend.
To find the best cat GPS tracker, we consulted with Molly DeVoss, a Certified Feline Training & Behavior Specialist, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant, and Founder of nonprofit CatBehaviorSolutions.org. Beyond the obvious ability to find a lost or trapped cat, she finds that a tracking device can be particularly useful for multi-cat households, by allowing you to discern their overlapping territories and how often they socially interact.
Our favorite cat tracker is the Tractive GPS Tracker for Cats, which is lightweight, constantly updating, and has a wealth of features across two different subscription tiers.
Tractive GPS Tracker for Cats
Location updates every few seconds
More lightweight than any other tracker we’ve tested
Premium subscription offers family sharing and more
Waterproof and shock-resistant
Monthly subscription plan required
The Tractive GPS Tracker for Cats can access real-time GPS locations using three different major cellular networks, ensuring the best possible coverage, as long as you’re in an area with 4G cellular access. It updates your cat’s location every 2-3 seconds. Advanced features include the ability to set safe zones, or areas where your cat shouldn’t go—you’ll get a notification if they cross into a no-go zone.
The device itself is waterproof, ultra durable, and can go seven days without a battery charge. Plus, it’s tinier than any other fully-featured GPS tracker we evaluated. At just over a single ounce, with a body that’s under three inches long, the Tractive tracker will still take some getting used to for your cat, but is as unobtrusive as possible.
As with most cat trackers the Tractive requires a subscription, but offers two different tiers with different features. Both Basic and Premium subscriptions give you unlimited live tracking and access to the Tractive app’s data monitoring, which includes your cat’s sleep and activity patterns. Premium subscriptions can have multiple people tracking your cat at once—so you could share data with a cat sitter or family member. Premium subscriptions also provide international support, retain your cat’s location data for a full year, and even allow you to export GPS data so you can do your own analysis.
Subscriptions start at $13 a month, or you can get a year of the Basic subscription by buying annually, at a rate of $8 a month. Premium plans start at $9 a month, paid annually. The Tractive GPS Cat LTE device comes packaged with a charging cable, and a bracket for attaching it to your cat’s collar.
Price at time of publish: $50 (device only)
Best for Cities
Cube Real Time GPS Dog & Cat Tracker
Can ring your tracker via the app
Super-precise location tracking
This fully-featured GPS tracker is slightly heavier and bulkier than our favorite overall, the Tractive tracker, which makes all the difference when it comes to a device you expect your cat to wear around your neck.
However, while many of the Cube’s features are comparable to the Tractive, it differs in one major aspect by triangulating your cat’s location with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, in addition to GPS over cellular networks. This makes it particularly useful in urban environments, where tall buildings can block the line of sight necessary to establish a location using GPS satellites.
The Cube GPS Tracker can attach to most cats’ collars with ease, thanks to the slide-on design. You can buy the device separately or in tandem with one of the brand’s specifically-made collars.
There’s an excellent phone app that corresponds with this piece of wearable tech. Download the app, then enable tracking and location services. While the Cube itself is only $30, unlocking its features via the app requires a $16.50 monthly subscription, or a one-time, yearly subscription price of $198.
The Cube tracker accounts for myriad different specs, including, of course, location—in real-time and historically. It also tracks the speed at which your pet is moving, as well as when they stop and start moving. There’s also a handy audible ringer feature. If your cat is out and about in the yard, but visually out of sight, this tracker is great, too, as it allows you to ring it audibly from a distance, making it that much easier to find your furry friend when they’re meandering through the bushes!
In terms of battery life, the Cube GPS tracker outlasts many other similar options, with a 10-60 day use per charging session.
Price at time of publish: $30
Pawscout Smarter Pet Tag
Can be used across numerous accounts
App can be used to log walks and medical information
No batteries needed
Provides access to a local network of other pet lovers
Some features require a monthly subscription
Does not work with Windows OS or Blackberry
Less useful in areas without Pawscout users
The Pawscout replaces GPS satellites with your friends and neighbors. Rather than a tracking device, the Pawscout uses a QR coded ID tag, which is connected to a profile for your pet that you set up in the Pawscout app. If your dog gets lost, you can send an alert out to the networked Pawscout users in a 5-mile search area. You also get notified anytime someone scans your pet’s Pawscout tag. If you have a particularly friendly cat, you might get periodic updates on their whereabouts throughout the day.
It’s a little like a microchip, except that it’s more widely accessible to anyone who might find your lost cat, allowing them access to care notes and methods for contacting you.
Price at time of publish: $10
Our favorite cat tracker is the Tractive GPS Tracker for Cats, which offers constantly updating locations and lots of features in a package small enough for your cat's collar. But if you live in a city, we recommend the Cube GPS Tracker instead, since it boasts features that help track your cat's location even when a GPS satellite can't be accessed, such as when the signal is blocked by big buildings.
What to Look For
Small, lightweight trackers made from comfortable, smooth materials, such as plastic, are best for cats’ collars. A lithe tracking device is less likely to impede on your cat’s movement and will not weigh them down. Ideally, your cat should feel like they’re wearing nothing at all. Be sure to check the weight on the cat tracker you intend to purchase, as well as the measurements, particularly if you have a very small cat or kitten.
“Traditionally, trackers have been large for cats but the technology seems to be on the verge of producing smaller ones,” DeVoss said, “which will be easier for the cat to get used to wearing.”
Most cat-tracking devices come with a corresponding smartphone app, most of which allow you to view your cat’s location on a map in real-time. Some apps are more user-friendly than others; moreover, some apps include additional helpful features, such as the ability to make a ringing sound on the device, and even real-time support from veterinarians. Be sure to double-check that your cat tracking device works seamlessly with your type of phone (e.g. iPhone, Android, etc.).
Some cat-tracking devices feature significantly more range than others. For example, many have a range of a few hundred feet, which is great for knowing where your cat is within the area of your home, backyard, and closeby premises. Others offer unlimited range, which allows you to see exactly where your cat is no matter how far they travel from home.
Batteries and power come in many forms depending on the cat tracking device you choose. Some offer a rechargeable battery, similar to a phone-charger, that will need to be plugged in and recharged every so often (this can be a few days or a few weeks, depending on the cat tracker you choose). The other power option is a good old fashioned battery; typically, cat tracking devices with batteries rely on small, flat, circular batteries, so as to not weigh your cat down and so the battery can fit within the small tracking device. Battery power generally offers longer-lasting powertime, and there’s no need to recharge.
Most cat-tracking devices require subscriptions to use the location services you’re looking for. Often, the subscription is paid on a monthly basis, though annual subscriptions are also an option with some cat-tracking devices. Depending on the number of features the cat-tracker offers, the subscription price can vary significantly, so be sure to double check prior to purchasing to fully determine what suits your budget.
What is GPS?
GPS, which stands for Global Positioning System, is a standardized, accurate means of determining location by way of specialized satellites.
How does GPS work?
On a high level, GPS works via communication with satellites. Specifically, satellites that orbit the earth twice per day, sending signals to GPS-enabled devices via receivers to communicate precise locations at any given time.
Why Trust The Spruce
Sophie Wirt is freelance writer for The Spruce Pets and a cat mom of two. For this article, Sophie carefully considered an array of cat-tracking device models and evaluated each for comfort, value, and ease of use regarding the corresponding app. For additional insight, she also consulated Molly DeVoss, a Certified Feline Training & Behavior Specialist, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant, and Founder of nonprofit CatBehaviorSolutions.org.