When we decided to adopt Bella, we were concerned about the possibility of losing her. Having known about GPS Cat Trackers for quite some time, we were very grateful when Tractive offered to send us their cat tracker edition ‘IKATI’, in return for a review.
Tractive are some of the best selling cat trackers and dog trackers on the market, and we couldn’t wait to get our hands on one and put it to the test.
So what did we think? We’ll take you through the features one by one, and then weigh up the pros and cons of the tracker as we see it. And finally, give our overall verdict.
Tractive IKATI – Features
To summarise the main features of the Tractive IKATI cat tracker, we’ve put them in a handy table.
The best way to talk about the features is to show and tell you how we tested the cat tracker. To start off, we received our tracker in the early days of Bella’s arrival. Contrary to our previous understanding, the RSPCA advised us to keep her indoors for at least 6-8 weeks before letting her explore her new territory.
OK we thought, let’s use this to her advantage and trial the tracker before trusting it to keep our beloved pet safe.
What better way to test it than to hand it over to a pair of active children and let them run with it..!
We opted to trial the IKATI in a couple of different environments to test out how well it works in more densely covered areas (woodland) and open areas (a sports field). Our home in a suburban area has good mobile reception, so we wanted to push the limits and see how well it performs in other places.
Design and App Usability
The Tractive cat tracker has to be one of the sleekest looking trackers on the market. We made a point of noting the curved minimalist design, with no sharp corners. It easily clips on and off the cradle which is attached to the Hunter collar (included).
With a small silver on/off button which beeps and gives off a red/green light, the tracker module itself is very easy to use. Bella would not be able to disturb the collar while wearing so there is no concern it could accidentally be switched off.
The tracker comes in two parts which come apart with buttons either side, to separate the battery section which can then be easily recharged with the included charger, in about 2 hours.
The Hunter collar is aesthetically pleasing, with a quick release safe fastening.
The free Tractive app is quick to download. You then register your details, sync with your new tracker and choose a subscription plan. The app takes you through a brief tutorial, but I find that spending a bit of time moving around the app and sussing out the features is a good way to become confident with it.
The only real downside of the Tractive tracker’s design is the weight.
At 30g, most of the bulk is made up by the battery, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a much lighter GPS cat tracker. Other, lighter cat trackers are available such as the Tabcat which uses different technology altogether and does not have the same amount of functionality as the GPS trackers (i.e no virtual fence or activity monitoring).
If you have a larger cat above 4kg the tracker is not likely to become an impediment to your cat. We asked Tractive their opinion and have been advised that 4kg is a guide weight and that if your cat appears comfortable then cats weighing less may carry the tracker too – essentially, it’s an individual decision.
A SIM is included with the Tracker which works over multiple cellular networks, enabling it to link with whichever has the best signal at the time.
When we took the Tractive cat tracker for its trial, we first had a woodland walk. With the children ahead of us, I could witness their real-time location while also watching the app on the phone.
We were impressed with the accuracy of the tracking with fairly low amount of mobile and GPS signal, there were some periods where the signal wouldn’t be adequate to update location but it kicked back in as soon as we moved into better signal areas.
In an open sports field where we get good mobile phone reception, GPS signal was also good. I watched my children run in real-time up and down the field while I was miles away at home – reassurance to me that when Bella the cat tries it, I will be able to monitor her first movements about her new environment with accuracy.
We have looked at other reviews of the Tractive and other GPS collars which sometimes get marked down due to poor signal. We are genuinely impressed with what we found, but do remember that the tracker needs a GPS signal and a mobile phone signal to be able to function and there may be some areas where one isn’t available.
Not only does the Tractive cat tracker utilise GPS to help locate your furry friend, but once in close range, you can be guided very accurately to your lost cat using Bluetooth signals. The range of Bluetooth is up to about 10 metres depending on environment.
You can turn on sound and light functions, which illuminate the tracker and give off continuous beeps when you are just within reach of your pet. This is a great addition to the functionality of the tracker, and will work both indoors and outdoors.
LIVE tracking updates your pets location every 2-3 seconds. When we utilised this in an open space, I could literally see the movement tracking across the screen and it was very accurate. It is slower in areas with less signal strength as you may expect.
We also like the location history aspect of the app, which will show you all the places your cat has been within a set time-frame. It’s quite interesting to look back upon the route your pet (or person in our trial example!) has been.
Setting a geofence (or ‘virtual fence’) is probably one of the main selling points of a GPS tracker in our opinion. Very quickly and easily you can draw a boundary using the Tractive app, and when your cat moves outside of the fence, you will be alerted.
For us, being relatively close to a main road means we will activate the virtual fence to ensure we are alerted when Bella is straying close to the road, so if there is anything we can do to deter her, we have a chance to do so.
An added bonus of some cat trackers is the ability to closely monitor your pets activity and set activity goals. This in turn helps you to keep an eye on your cats overall health and well-being, knowing how much exercise she is getting. If you have a pet for example, who does need to lose some weight, having an idea about his exercise and calories used may help tailor his diet more specifically.
We don’t see this as an essential feature when looking for a good cat tracker, but it certainly has its uses.
Battery life of any gadget is often bemoaned. What did we find?
Firstly, what’s really very handy is that the app will SHOW you how much battery life remains in the tracker.
Secondly, you can buy a second battery for the tracker separately, so you can have one on charge and one in use at all times.
What we found was fairly expected. If used minimally – on standby a lot of the time, perhaps checking on location a couple of times, then the battery life lasts at least the 5 days suggested by Tractive.
If on the other hand, you put the tracker into LIVE mode for hours and hours, the battery life takes a big hit. So will your mobile phone while using it to search, especially if trying to find signal.
Of course, LIVE tracking is what you’ll want to use if searching for your lost cat. You may worry that by the time you need to use it, the battery has run out.
If my cat didn’t come home for 24hours, I’d go and look for her. If she went out with a fully charged tracker, there should be plenty of battery life at the point at which I start searching. Our thoughts are that in an average scenario like this, there would be enough battery life to then perform hours of searching to find your lost pet.
We’d also suggest keeping an eye on battery life via the app, and charging at around 24-48hourly.
You will get updates when the battery life is critical and also when the battery is used up.
Most cats do not stray that far from home. We feel the battery life of Tractive is sufficient to perform its functions well.
Does the Cat like it?
Bella is a fairly small moggie, so we were eager to see how she would tolerate her tracker.
The weight and size of the tracker means it naturally falls into place on the underside of the neck. The adjustable collar made it easy to fit to Bella and easy to put on-off.
The light on the collar shines nice and brightly and we can see this being a useful aid to locating your cat along with the loud beeps it emits when you are close by on the finding mode.
Bella did not appear uncomfortable or distressed when walking about the house and jumping on and off furniture while wearing the collar.
We are really looking forward to letting her explore her new outdoor environment in the coming weeks, and feel reassured that with the Tractive collar on, we will be able to keep a close eye on her. It’ll give us an idea about what she’s up to and how far she roams, and whether we feel she’s safe in the suburban territory in which she now belongs.
In short, we are really impressed by the Tractive IKATI. We were pleasantly surprised by how capable it was at tracking, and loved the Bluetooth functionality for finding at close range with the light and sound.
Battery performance was respectable and reassuring.
The geofence, a must in our opinion, works well and is easy to set up. The only downside is that we found the app a little ‘clumsy’ to navigate, and kept forgetting where to setup/modify the fence.
The weight of the tracker, with improving battery technology, may be something that could be improved.
One final point of note is the subscription fees. The cheapest fee at £3.75/monthly payable on a 2yr basis, but if you wanted to pay monthly, it increased to £8.99 (basic subscription). It’s a fairly big difference if you only want to pay monthly, but comparable to other GPS trackers and something to be aware of.
So there you have it, it’s a paws up from us. A best selling cat tracker and for good reason.