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Best pet trackers: Monitor your cats and dogs

Best pet trackers
(Image credit: Pawfit)

Investing in the best pet trackers will be hugely beneficial both for you and your cat or dog. Aside from being able to pinpoint their exact location which is very useful for wandering moggies, many trackers will also assess a pet's health and wellbeing – think animal Fitbit and you're on the right lines!

There's also ample opportunity to have some fun. Ever wondered how far a cat roams? One look at a tracker's accompanying app and you'll have a very clear idea. Maybe you'll spot them popping round to a neighbor's home rather too frequently!

Of course, there's a serious side to this. You'll be able to see if your cat is sticking to their strict diet. You'll also be able to work out if a dog has escaped from the yard. In fact, a large number of GPS trackers will go as far as letting you create a virtual fence around your home. The moment a pet ventures outside it, you'll be notified and shown their movement in real time.

In terms of the health benefits, you can find modern pet trackers that record activity. They'll show how many calories a pet is burning , how many steps they are taking and how long they are sleeping. It can help you work out what's happening to a pet. If a cat or dog is putting on weight, checking their activity levels can be an indicator as to why. You can then let your vet know of any concerns. 

For extra peace of mind (and some Instagram-friendly fun), you could even go as far as pairing a tracking with one of the best pet cameras and actually see what they are up to. You can also invest in the best outdoor wireless cameras for pets and assess what's happening around your property. There's no harm in combining the three either for the ultimate in safety and security.

One thing to bear in mind, though, you often don't just stump up a single cost for the device. Many of the pet trackers also come with a monthly subscription fee so you can gain access to a range of premium features. If that doesn't put you off, then let's keep going – here are the best pet trackers in 2022.

PetsRadar's pick of the best pet trackers

Jiobit Location MonitorBest buy award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Jiobit Location Monitor

Best overall pet tracker

Specifications

GPS tracking: Yes
Activity tracking: No
Waterproof: Yes
Battery life: Up to 20 days

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive battery life
+
Unmatched level of security and encryption
+
Extremely lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Bound to be the go-to pet tracker for 2021, this new offering from Jiobit offers unmatched security and encryption - making it a great choice not just for your pet but also for any small humans or seniors who might use it. 

Tiny and long-lasting with an impressive battery life of up to 20 days, the lightweight Jiobit weighs in at a tiny 0.8 ounces, so your pet won’t even know they’re wearing it.

It has real-time GPS tracking and smart alerts, a next-gen low-power 5G-compatible network, and progressive beaconing technology that combines WiFi, cellular, GPS, and Bluetooth to track your furkid wherever they are. 

Waterproof and durable, this nifty device features government-level encryption for maximum privacy and security and it comes with several different attachments, allowing it to be worn in multiple different ways, so you can find one that suits your pet. 

You’ll need to purchase a monthly subscription for this little beauty, which will set you back anywhere between $8.99 and $14.99, but when it comes to tracking, the award-winning Jiobit is the best product on the market right now, which makes it well worth it in our books. 

Pawfit pet trackerPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Pawfit)

Pawfit 2

Best pet trackers for dogs

Specifications

GPS tracking: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
Waterproofing: IP68
Battery life: 4-5 days

Reasons to buy

+
Great waterproofing
+
Plenty of features and statistics
+
Decent battery

Reasons to avoid

-
A little bulky

Pawfit takes the idea of a GPS pet tracker and adds some neat touches of its own. The unit itself, which is IP68 waterproofed for submersion up to three metres, click-fits into a collar mount, so it's reasonably straightforward to remove for charging without needing to take the whole collar off, and just drops onto a custom charging dock to juice up. The unit itself is marginally more cumbersome than Tractive's tracker below. This is particularly noticeable if you're using it to track a larger cat, something Pawfit suggests: it's light enough, but probably a little large.

There are a number of safety features too, such as alerts when the tracker is removed from the collar, geofencing to tell if your dog strays beyond a certain boundary, and a temperature sensor to make sure they're not getting too cold. It'll also play an audio alert if someone finds your dog, with all the information they need to get your pet returned to you.

You'll find plenty of activity monitoring smarts in here too, with an app to help make sense of them. If you're looking to increase your dog's fitness, this is perfect. Pawfit's second-generation tracker does require a subscription to get running, mainly to pay for the costs of running its cellular-connected live tracking hardware. It's not too expensive, and there's a discount if you pay for a whole year at a time, compared to pay-monthly costs.

Tractive pet tracker

(Image credit: Tractive)

Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs

Best GPS Tracker

Specifications

GPS tracking: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
Waterproofing: IP67
Battery life: 2-5 days

Reasons to buy

+
Compact design
+
Great looking app
+
Clever pet-proof construction

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive to run

No matter what you’re looking to get insight on – from location tracking to fitness and activity monitoring – Tractive’s newly revised tracker seems to cover it, all in a handsome-enough dark-colored case that sits on the collar. 

Tracktive's recent revision of its tracking hardware, which shaves a few grams and a fair amount of size off of the previous model, makes for a much more discrete tracker; it's still chunky enough to look a bit awkward on smaller dogs, certainly, but larger canines will barely notice that it's there. 

As for what it can do, you've got full activity monitoring, with statistics like calorie burning fed into the app, perfect for those tricky diets; there's a geofence facility, so you can see in an instant if your dog has absconded from the garden; live location tracking, so you're able to work out exactly where they've gotten to if that does happen; and a location history function, which is potentially a little more useful in the cat version but nice to have here too.

The Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs is IP67 waterproof-rated and appears pretty tough with it, and its activation button is cleverly positioned so as to make it paw-proof. All you really need to do is charge it once every two to five days, and keep up with the subscription plan. About that,: this isn't super-cheap to keep running even on its most basic plan, though again the cost per month is different depending on how long you sign up for. Just bear in mind that the one-off purchase price is only part of the puzzle.

This specific model isn't available in the US, but the Tractive GPS DOG LTE is the same product with the right wireless systems to suit the US.

Pitpat pet tracker

(Image credit: Pitpat)

PitPat

Best activity tracker for dogs

Specifications

GPS tracking: No
Activity tracking: Yes
Waterproofing: IP67
Battery life: 1 year

Reasons to buy

+
Super-small
+
Super-light
+
Lasts for an age

Reasons to avoid

-
No location tracking

Want to find your dog when it's run off? This isn't the product for you. The PitPat is something completely different: it's a dedicated activity tracker, the collar-hanging equivalent of a canine Fitbit, designed to track just how much exercise your dog has been getting, with an app that helps you track everything that goes along with it – including, if it's a concern, manual tracking of your dog's weight.

The unit itself is a very well-designed, tiny 16g module which attaches securely to your dog's collar with parachute-grade velcro, and at 16g it's light enough to be suitable for puppies as well as larger dogs. The whole thing is waterproof, so even if your hound is the kind that can't resist a muddy dip in their favorite spot, the PitPat should survive unscathed.

All of the PitPat's features are available to you without a subscription; the only additional payments are for app features that add a little motivation to keep your dog well-walked, or offer pertinent pup fitness advice if you want to get your dog to the ideal weight for its breed. 

Perhaps the coolest feature is the battery life: the internals are so simple that it'll easily track your dog's movements for a whole year on a single CR2032 coin battery.

PetFon GPS Tracker

(Image credit: PetFon)

PetFon Pet GPS Tracker

Best GPS only Tracker

Specifications

GPS Tracking: Yes
Activity Tracking: No
Waterproofing: Rainproof
Battery Life: 8-16 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Great for dog walkers
+
Prerecord commands
+
Flashing lights

Reasons to avoid

-
No activity tracking
-
Not as effective in built-up areas

The PetFon GPS Tracker is a small and durable device that can be worn on your dog’s collar, allowing you to track their whereabouts and pinpoint their exact location should they run off. The PetFon tracker used GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth with long-distance wireless technology that can give you the precise location of your dog when they’re wearing the device.

One of the great things about this pet tracker is that the app is totally free without subscription, and allows you to track within a range of 3.5 miles within an open environment. When in a dense area however, you may find the tracking range to vary and it can be affected by your surroundings, so really this device is designed for when you take your dog on long walks in the open.

You can set the device with a ‘safe zone’ which will notify you immediately should your pet go beyond this point, and you can also set the tracker to activate coloured lights on the device which can make your dog easier to locate in poor weather conditions or at night.

In addition to this, you can prerecord commands onto the device, so that should they leave your sight, you can activate these commands remotely to communicate with your pooch. This is ideal for anyone with an excitable pup who likes to run off miles ahead of you.

The battery life lasts anywhere between 8-16 hours, which suggests that this device is only meant to be worn during walks, and not all day. The device is also rainproof, but not waterproof, so it’s unlikely to hold up if your dog decides to go for a swim. The device does come with a handy portable charging station which is ideal for taking on long trips away.

This isn’t an activity tracker but great for long dog walks, trails and hikes to keep your dog within reach at all times.

weenect pet tracker

(Image credit: Weenect)

Weenect Cats 2

Best pet tracker for cats

Specifications

GPS tracking: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
Waterproofing: IP67
Battery life: 3 days

Reasons to buy

+
Very compact
+
Environment-proofing
+
Great location-tracking features

Reasons to avoid

-
Reasonably short battery

Smaller in all dimensions than the equivalent GPS tracker from Tractive, and 5g lighter, there's some merit to Weenect's claims that this is the smallest GPS tracker available for cats. It may be the smallest, but it's still relatively bulky in comparison to the tiny puck of the Tabcat.

Of course, being a GPS tracker means you get GPS tracker features; there's no distance limit (provided the SIM card inside can get a fix on a mobile tower), and there's plenty of data available to feed back to your phone, including a neat heat map function that tells you the areas your cat specifically likes to frequent, overlaid on a local map. 

There's really nothing missing. You can ring and vibrate the tracker at will, whether helping to aurally locate your cat when you get within its GPS range or simply alerting your cat that it's time to come home for dinner; you can track multiple cats within the same app; you can pinpoint your cat's location on a map, follow a compass, or use an augmented reality radar function to find it in the foliage. 

The real downsides here are the battery life – which Weenect pegs at 72 hours, and we'd charitably suggest may be a lot lower than that if you're watching your cat exploring next door's garden via the live tracking function – and the appearance, which doesn't quite have the class of some competing brands.

A final note: due to its reliance on cellular connectivity, this one's Europe-only, and Weenect doesn't currently have a US version available. You'll also need to pay a subscription fee, which is around the typical average for these kinds of devices.

Tabcat pet tracker

(Image credit: Loc8tor tabcat)

Loc8tor Tabcat

Best location tracker for cats

Specifications

GPS tracking: No
Activity tracking: No
Waterproofing: Splashproof
Battery life: 1 year

Reasons to buy

+
Tiny and light
+
No subscription
+
Fantastic range (in theory)

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires shoe leather

The technology in use here isn't GPS or Bluetooth, it's good old-fashioned radio. That gives the Tabcat a whole host of advantages over its more bulky competition, not least of which is a vastly increased range. 

The actual cat portion of the tracker is a tiny 6g module that barely weighs more than any other collar tag, which is perfect for cats that aren't going to tolerate the likes of the chunky Tractive GPS tracker dangling from their necks. There's no subscription required, because it's a self-contained service that doesn't need to talk to any systems online. Its battery also lasts a whole lot longer than those of power-hungry GPS trackers, so you won't need to remove and juice up the tracker nearly as often. It might also, in certain circumstances, end up being more accurate than GPS.

But let's talk about that. The Loc8tor Tabcat doesn't give you a phone interface or any valuable activity data. It's all about finding where your cat is right now, which means putting on your shoes and going for a hunt. If you're in range of your cat, its RF remote shows a series of lights that help you manually pinpoint the direction and distance of up to four different trackers; for skittish and frequently absent cats, that could be just the thing you need. 

The collar tag also lightly beeps when a connection is made, helping you to find them; Loc8tor suggests that this can sometimes encourage your cat to come home by itself. While this may be effective in urban areas, where cats' territory tends to be a little smaller, we'd suggest that this might not be the best option for rural cats with wider roaming ranges.

Tractive pet tracker

(Image credit: Tractive)
Best GPS tracker for cats

Specifications

GPS tracking: Yes
Activity tracking: Yes
Waterproofing: IPX7
Battery life: 2-5 days

Reasons to buy

+
Small enough for cats (just)
+
Fantastic app
+
Cat-proof shell

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive to run

We've looked at the Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs above, and this cat version doesn't deviate far in terms of technology. In fact, as far as we can tell, its white shell packs precisely the same hardware as its dog counterpart, the same size and weight, and we can tell why Tractive recommends it for cats 4kg and up: the relative scale tends to be a little different here. The Tractive GPS Tracker for Cats is big, and while we've certainly heard stories of cats treating it with their usual nonchalance and completely ignoring it, we've also heard others of cats struggling to eat with it attached to the included collar. It’s not for those cats that never really left the kitten stage, we'd say.

Of course, being attached to a cat rather than a dog means that many of those neat Tractive features come in a lot more handy. As a society we tend to have a lot more trust in our cats to go and do their own thing; the live tracking will help you to see exactly where your outdoor cat is currently languishing. Activity monitoring over time is a great way to see the extent of their territory. You might also be able to suss out if they're getting dinner elsewhere, and use the light and sound functions to both spook your own cat a little and alert whoever's dishing up the illicit food that you're onto them.

It's big, relatively heavy and, like the dog version, the subscription fee might sting a little, but the Tractive GPS Tracker for Cats is a good option for keeping close tabs on your tabby.

Note that network restrictions mean this is a Europe-only product; in the US, there's no specific cat version, but you may be able to use the similar Tractive GPS DOG LTE on your cat if it's burly enough.

Weenect Dogs 2Pets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Weenect)

Weenect Dogs 2

Best long coverage GPS tracker for dogs

Specifications

GPS tracking: Yes
Activity tracking: No
Waterproof: Yes
Battery life: Up to three days

Reasons to buy

+
 Real-time GPS and unlimited coverage 
+
 No distance limit between tracker and your phone 
+
 Reasonable price 
+
 Small and discreet size 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Doesn’t fit every collar 
-
 You need a subscription 
-
 Battery lift is not as long as others 

If you want a small yet effective GPS tracker for dogs, this is the ideal choice. And while it happens to be the ‘world’s smallest’ GPS tracker, it comes with some big features. 

These include real time tracking with three tracking modes – map, compass or radar. Also, there is no distance limit between the tracker and your device, unlike Bluetooth trackers which can get stop working from a further coverage. 

In addition, it features a training function which can ring or vibrate the tracker to call your dog remotely to return home for mealtimes. And to ensure there are no great escapes, it has an anti-escape alert where you can set up safe zones to be notified whenever your pooch ventures outside of those.

You’ll need a subscription for all of these great features, and the included SIM card can be used in most European countries. Best of all, it covers 99% of the coverage, so you can track your pooch practically everywhere, even in a forest!

Some customers have mentioned the tracker doesn’t fit every collar so you’ll need to bear this in mind.  What’s more, the battery life lasts up to three days, compared to others on the market. But this will depend on time spent using it and the signal strength. Overall, the Weenect Dogs 2 offers so much more at an affordable price.  

Tile pet trackerPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Tile)

Tile Sticker

Best for inexpensive tracking

Specifications

GPS tracking: No
Activity tracking: No
Waterproof: Yes
Battery life: 3 years

Reasons to buy

+
Discreet and easy to apply to collar 
+
Has a long battery life 
+
Wide range depends on crowd-tracking  

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't have fitness tracking

Tile makes a great angle of trackers which people use to locate their keys, wallets and more. The company also manufacturers a range of small tracking stickers and these are perfect for popping on to a pet's collar. Although it doesn't work with GPS (nor offer any fitness tracking), it does have  a range of up to 250 feet (76 meters) using Bluetooth and it's simply a matter of clicking Find in the Tile app to make the sticker ring loudly.

If your pet has wandered further away, you'll be told your furry friend is not in range. Fortunately, your Tile forms a network with other Tile owners so if someone else has one of these devices and comes into range of your pet, you will be notified with a location. The downside here is obvious: you are relying on a fellow user to get close by. But Tile says more than 35 million of its trackers have been sold so there is a good chance you'll get a ping.

New Tile customers also get a year's free subscription to Tile Premium. This normally costs $29.99/year and it allows you to share your Tile with friends and family so they can help your search. It also gives you a 30-day location history which you could use to work out where your pet generally likes to go (particularly useful for outdoor cats). You'll even get a replacement if your Tile becomes defective or damaged.

If you decide not to pay for a subscription, however, you will still benefit from being able to locate the Tile (and you pet) if it's within or outside of the range. That makes it a very inexpensive option. You can also consider a non-sticker alternative Tile such as Mate or Pro, both of which can be attached via a key ring (the Pro offers a range of up to 400 feet (120 meters) and has replaceable one-year batteries but is a little more expensive).

best pet trackers

(Image credit: Pebblebee)

Pebblebee tracker 2.0

Best bluetooth pet tracker

Specifications

GPS tracking: CrowdGPS
Range: 500ft
Weight: 0.388 ounces
Battery charging: USB

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight
+
Can be used on phones
+
Good range

Reasons to avoid

-
Some pairing issues reported

Not everyone can afford an expensive pet tracker, so sometimes something more diminutive is required. Pebblebee attempts to fill this void with their second incarnation of their tracker.

Also possible to use with items like wallets and keys, its unobtrusive size means that it can easily be used on pet collars too.

The range isn't huge compared to some of the other trackers on this list, being able to work up to 500 feet, but this will be more than enough for many. 

The app is pretty essential, as unless you allow location services, it won't work. There are further functions present inside it, such as the ability to track battery life, and leave-behind alerts to make sure you don't leave the house without your essential items.

While most reviews were generally positive, some reported pairing issues with their devices, so you are invariably at the mercy of how reliable your connection is. For most though, this is a perfectly satisfactory small pet tracker.

Best pet trackers

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple AirTag

Best budget pet tracker

Specifications

GPS Tracking: No
Range: 100 metres
Weight: 0.39 ounces
Battery charging: Replaceable

Reasons to buy

+
Great for iPhone users
+
Easy to set up
+
Batteries last about a year

Reasons to avoid

-
They're not GPS trackers

Apple has downplayed the use of its AirTags to track pets and it says they should only be used to find items. Even so, there's no law prohibiting you from using an AirTag in this way and many pet owners use them for that very purpose. 

In actual fact, you can find loads of pet collars that allow you to insert an AirTag and the bonus of doing so is that you don't need to pay any ongoing subscription fees. If you're on a budget and you're already in the Apple ecosystem, then AirTags could be the answer.

Relatively inexpensive and small, they are very easy to set up. You pull out the battery tab, hold the AirTag close to your iPhone, tap Connect, choose a name and register it. The process should take no more than a few minutes. You will then be able to see the AirTag in the Find My app on an iPhone. The AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal and, if any Apple devices hooked into the Find My network are nearby, the location will be updated.

But note the word “if”. Let's say your dog suddenly flies off the leash in the countryside and runs into the distance. Unless there is someone nearby with an Apple device to pick up on the Bluetooth signal, you're not going to be able to find your pet using the AirTag. You'd have more luck in a built-up area but bear in mind that it's not a GPS tracker. You can, however, slip the AirTag into Lost Mode so that any Apple user who happens to come across your pet will be pinged. They'll be able to see your information and, with luck, get in touch to arrange a reunion. Android users can also tap an AirTag and find the same details.

In that sense, AirTags are worth considering so long as you know they're not as effective as a dedicated tracker. They have a long battery life, they look cool, they can be engraved and they have a solid build quality we've come to expect from Apple. If you can live without the expanded range of features that often come with trackers (particularly subscription-based ones), then definitely keep AirTags in mind.

How to choose a pet tracker

The breed and species of your pet will be a big driver to choose a particular tracker over another; larger breeds can easily accommodate larger trackers – and they're often the breeds you'll want to use them on anyway – whereas smaller dogs or cats might look a little silly with a large tracking module around their necks.

A good pet-safe collar is a must, so your pet will need to be used to wearing a collar at all times if you want constant tracking. There's not much that can be done about this. People sometimes think a pet tracker can be injected or embedded, in the same manner as a traditional microchip ID. That's just not the case; they need complex electronics and batteries. 

Bear in mind that attaching these to a safe collar – one that will break should your pet's neck get snagged, means the possibility of losing the tracker. Luckily GPS trackers do, by their nature, have tracking built in, so they're relatively easy to find again if they get dropped.

One final point: the pet tracker market is, shall we say, a little volatile. More than one tracker has come along and rather abruptly disappeared, meaning it's well worth considering the likely longevity of not only the tracking hardware but the software backing connected models up. If the manufacturer pulls the plug, which is always a risk, that nifty collar accessory could turn into nothing more than a plastic pendant. Tractive is a strong choice for us because it's been around for a while, for example.

You’ll also need to keep up with the subscription fees on connected trackers; they’re typically not super-high, but tracking a household full of pets could make GPS trackers rather expensive to run.

Alex is a freelance writer, editor and sub editor specialising in entertainment and technology; he is a father of two, and owned by three increasingly grumpy cats. Somehow he has been doing this for 24 years, and it's still fun. He specialises in technology-related subjects, with a focus on smart home and gadgets and is a regular contributor to T3.com, TechRadar, PC Gamer, and more.