Even if you have an indoor cat, it’s best to make sure your feline has a microchip cat ID, since they are very likely to be escape artists. But how can you best track your cat? In the past, simple collar tags with the name and address of the pet owners were attached to the cat. Nowadays, we have various, much more useful tracking and identification options, such as GPS and Bluetooth trackers, microchips, etc. So what to choose for your feline’s safety?

This article explains why it is not possible to keep track of your cat by relying solely on a microchip. It will also clarify the difference between microchips, GPS and Bluetooth trackers, and explains what your cat really needs to be safe.

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Table of contents

  1. What are microchips for cats?
  2. Should you microchip your cat?
  3. What are the uses and possible benefits of microchips for cats?
  4. Does a cat microchip use GPS?
  5. What are the limitations of the microchip cat ID?
  6. What are GPS tracking devices for cats?
  7. Microchip vs GPS tracker: which is best for my fluffy friend?
  8. Can a GPS tracker help me find my lost cat?
  9. What about Bluetooth trackers for cats?

What are microchips for cats?

A microchip for cats is an identification tool; an electronic chip of the size of a grain of rice, implanted under the skin of your kitty. The unique chip contains an ID number for identifying the owner of the cat, in case your feline friend gets lost. The chip is injected carefully between the shoulder blades of your cat and the painless procedure lasts only a few seconds.

Once the chip is implanted, it works in case your cat goes missing, and is brought to a vet or shelter. There they will be able to scan the microchip to identify, and hopefully, contact you, the owner of the lost cat. Your contact details must be kept up-to-date in the database, otherwise the microchip might be ineffective in reuniting you with your cat.

⚠️ Microchips alone are not useful in the active search for your lost cat, and microchips cannot help you find your cat in real-time. 

With a microchip, you rely on a stranger to find, retrieve and bring your lost cat to a vet or shelter, then contact you. However, in general, microchips for cats are a more reliable form of identification than collar tags, which can fall off or become illegible.

Should you microchip your cat?

It’s good practice to have all of your cats fit with a microchip (for identification purposes) once they are old enough. Since outdoor cats are most at risk of being lost or stolen, microchips are especially important for cats allowed outside. In addition to a microchip cat implant, a GPS tracker for cats is recommended (more on that below).

In many countries, cat microchips are regulated and required by law. Should a non-identifiable feline be found lost on the streets, it could even be euthanized. Hence, microchipping your cat is a basic safety precaution that should be taken by all cat owners.

Are you relocating with your kitty? Remember, a microchip is only useful when you keep the contact information for the ID registration up to date.

What are the uses and possible benefits of microchips for cats?

A cat microchip or feline ID chip essentially has only one main use. And that is to identify your cat in case they are lost, found and brought into a vet or animal shelter by a third party. For this reason, you need to rely on other people to help you find your lost cat, when you use a microchip only.

Some of the other benefits of using the microchip on your cat might include:

  1. Proof of identity and ownership, to avoid potential disputes.
  2. Keep other cats out of your house using a chip-enabled cat flap.
  3. Take your cat abroad – microchips are required for the PETS pet passport scheme.
  4. Ensure a proper diet by using feeding stations which scan microchip details.

Does a cat microchip use GPS?

No; cat microchips don’t use the Global Positioning System (GPS) or any other navigation / localization technology.

⚠️ Due to the absence of GPS technology in microchips, you cannot actively track and locate your lost cat with a microchip.

Moreover, microchips are too small to contain GPS technology. The microchips used in cats and dogs are the same; read more about this topic in detail in the articles below to keep all of your furry friends safe:

Dog and cat encounter oudoors

What are the limitations of the microchip cat ID?

While it’s definitely sensible to microchip your cat, this is only minimally helpful. It is very useful to help locate the cat’s owner if someone finds the animal, but a microchip won’t help to locate the lost cat in the first place.

Microchips for cats have the following limitations:

  1. They are of no help while you are actively searching for your cat.
  2. You are dependent on other people to use the microchip.
  3. They have no GPS integrated, so real-time tracking is not possible
  4. They will not be helpful if contact information is not kept up to date or if a chip reader is not available.

Now that you are more familiar with the topic of microchips for cats, you might ask yourself what other tracking options for your feline are available. The good news is:

🐾 For real-time tracking of your cat for peace of mind, you can use a GPS cat tracker.

GPS trackers for cats are explained in more detail in the next section below.

What are GPS tracking devices for cats?

Unlike microchips, GPS trackers for cats offer you real-time GPS location information about your cat directly in your smartphone. And not only can you keep track of your cat’s whereabouts for safety, you can have fun finding out what your mischievous house cat gets up to on their daily adventures!

Here are some of the main features of the Tractive GPS Cat Tracker:

Small, lightweight device that can be worn comfortably on your cat’s collar or harness

✓ Offers real-time tracking with location updates every 2-3 seconds

Unlimited GPS tracking range – you can find your cat over any distance

✓ Works in over 150 countries worldwide

Exchangeable battery, which lasts between 2 and 5 days on one charge

Monitors your cat’s activity level in addition to location information

Active search possible – no need to rely on external factors when kitty gets lost

woman holding a gray cat wearing a GPS cat tracker outside

See what Consumer Reports says about Tractive

Microchip cat implant vs GPS tracker: which is best for my fluffy friend?

So now you know the main features and uses of cat microchips and GPS tracking devices for felines. So which one should you go for? Well, the answer is: both! Because when it comes to the safety of your kitty, nothing is too much.

Remember: Having your cat microchipped might be a mandatory regulation in your country, but unfortunately, this won’t be enough in case kitty runs away.

In comparison with a microchip, having a GPS cat tracking collar attached to your feline’s neck will definitely help you to find your cat, in case she gets lost. And in real-time! So keep your kitty safe with both a microchip, and a GPS tracker.

Can a GPS tracker help me find my lost cat?

Yes, absolutely! Tractive has been producing the world’s most trusted GPS trackers for cats and dogs for years and in this time, many users have shared with us their stories of a cat parent’s worst nightmare: losing their beloved feline baby!

However, with the help of the GPS cat tracker, they were able to actively search for and be reunited with their fur-baby in no time. Check out the story below from one grateful cat tracker user:

What about Bluetooth trackers for cats?

Last but not least, let’s have a closer look at tracking devices for cats which function via Bluetooth. How do they actually work? Bluetooth trackers function very well for locating objects in your immediate surroundings, for example, your keys or bag inside your home.

Good to know: When it comes to locating the exact position of your pet, Bluetooth trackers are only partially effective. Their operational range is limited to approximately 20 meters.

Should your cat be further away, a Bluetooth tracking device will be useless in finding your kitty. Read more about the main advantages and disadvantages of a Bluetooth tracker for pets!

Video Guide: How the microchip cat implantation process works

The following video is a useful guide to microchip implantation. It will provide you with a better understanding of the procedure itself:

In conclusion, the main difference between a microchip cat identification implant and a cat GPS tracker is the possibility of actively searching for your cat, in case she runs away or gets lost. The only device that gives you this ability over an unlimited range is the GPS tracker, since it offers the possibility of real-time tracking.

Learn more about GPS tracking devices for cats and dogs today and share this article with a friend who loves their furry friends as much as you do!