Electronic Tracking Devices for Cats

by Clare Edwards
Electronic pet tracking can help keep your cat safe.

Cats are natural explorers. If your pet likes to roam the neighborhood, you need a safe and effective way to ensure that you can locate her if she can't find her own way home. Cats who are picked up by shelters and pounds may be euthanized before their owners have a chance to find them again. Internal and external electronic tracking devices may offer the solution. However, you need to consider the benefits and disadvantages of the various technologies available before deciding whether or which to use with your pet.

Cat Callers: Advantages

Adventurous pets can be hard to track down.

Perhaps the simplest and cheapest electronic tracker is a cat caller. These devices work like radio-controlled key finders. A receiver unit with a buzzer is attached to the cat's collar. If the cat is lost, the owner presses a button on a separate transmitter unit. The receiver picks up the transmission and sounds the buzzer. A cat caller is inexpensive, doesn't require surgery or specialist installation and is easy to operate. You can also use it to train your cat, since most cats dislike the buzzer.

Cat Callers: Disadvantages

Cat callers have a limited range of operation. If the pet is too far away -- out of earshot or out of range of the radio transmitter -- the device won't help. It's also noisy and may distress high-strung animals. Since it's external, there's a chance that the receiver could fall off the cat's collar and get lost.

External GPS Tracking Devices: Advantages

Global satellite positioning can help locate a lost pet.

A GPS unit for your cat allows you to locate and track him remotely no matter how far away he is. A scaled-down, lightweight GPS unit is attached to the cat using a collar or harness. If the cat goes missing, you can track him down using the signals from the GPS.

External GPS Tracking Devices: Disadvantages

Cat-sized GPS units are expensive. Even scaled down, a GPS unit can be bulky and awkward for a cat to wear, and as with the cat caller it's external and thus prone to being lost if the cat breaks or removes his collar. If the batteries powering the device run down, it will stop relaying information about the whereabouts of the pet.

RFID Chip Implants: Advantages

RFID chips help reunite missing cats with their owners.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) recommends the use of RFID chips, tiny implants that are placed under the cat's skin by a vet. The chip contains data, such as your address, which is read using an external scanner. Because it's internal, an RFID implant can't be torn or knocked off. There are no batteries to run out. As well as tracking your pet, an RFID chip can work with an RFID-enabled cat flap to let your pets in while keeping others out.

RFID Chip Implants: Disdvantages

RFID chips are an expensive option. They don't send out a signal themselves but must be read using a compatible scanner. RFID chips must be implanted by a professional. In some very rare cases, there are adverse reactions such as inflammation or excessive bleeding, although the WSAVA has stated that the chips' usefulness outweighs these risks.

About the Author

Clare Edwards has been providing Internet content since 1998. She has written and translated for a variety of markets: everything from technical articles to short fiction and essays on alternative spirituality. She holds a certificate of higher education in electronics and audio arts from Middlesex University.

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