Tracking your cat’s location and movements has become easier than ever with advancements in technology. Cat owners now have access to a variety of devices like GPS trackers, radio frequency trackers and Bluetooth trackers.
Two popular options for cat owners are Tabcat and Airtag. But which one is better for your feline friend?
I have tested both Tabcat and Airtag trackers with my cat to provide an in-depth comparison guide. Read on to learn the key differences, pros and cons of each device, and determine which is the best investment for your needs.
Overview of Tabcat and Airtag
Tabcat is a dedicated radio frequency tracker designed specifically for cats. It consists of a transmitter tag that attaches to your cat’s collar and a handheld tracker device.
Airtag is an Apple Bluetooth tracker intended for locating lost items like keys or luggage. It can be used for pets but is not designed for that purpose. The location shows in the Find My app on iPhones.
While the Airtag leverages Apple’s massive Find My network, Tabcat operates on its own closed system. Both offer certain advantages, but have limitations too.
For more on the key differences between these two devices, see my in-depth comparison of Tabcat vs Airtag.
|Proprietary radio frequency
|Bluetooth + Apple Find My network
|For any items
|Tabcat devices only
|Apple devices only
|No, gives signal strength
|Yes, with iPhone 11/Pro or newer
|Up to 600 feet
|Variable based on iPhone models, up to 800 feet estimated
|Up to 1 year
|Up to 1 year
|IP67 – can withstand immersion up to 1m depth for 30 mins
Below I’ll go into more detail on how each device works, key features, accuracy, and pros and cons based on my hands-on experience.
How Tabcat Cat Trackers Work
The Tabcat tracker kit comes with two components – a radio frequency transmitter tag that attaches to your cat’s collar, and a handheld tracker device that you carry.
To set it up:
- Activate the tag by removing the plastic battery strip so it starts transmitting its signal.
- On the handheld tracker, press and hold the sync button to link it to your cat’s unique tag.
Now the handheld can detect radio waves from your cat’s tag at distances up to 600 feet away. As you get closer to your cat’s location, the tracker lights will go from red to green and it will beep faster.
The handheld does not give an exact location, rather it indicates signal strength so you can track the general direction. Think of playing “hot and cold” to find your cat!
Check out my full review of the Tabcat tracker to learn more about how it performs.
How Airtag Trackers Work
The Apple Airtag is a small Bluetooth tracker that pairs with the Find My app on iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later.
To set it up:
- Download the Find My app if you don’t already have it.
- Pull the plastic tab from AirTag to activate battery and pairing.
- Bring AirTag close to your iPhone and follow setup in Find My.
Once paired, the Find My app will show AirTag location on a map whenever it is in Bluetooth range of your phone.
If your cat wanders off with AirTag attached, any nearby Apple devices can detect its Bluetooth signal anonymously and relay the location back to your Find My app. This crowd-sourced network expands the tracking range considerably.
iPhone 11 models and newer also support “Precision Finding” which uses visual and audible cues to guide you right to your AirTag. As you get closer the tones will speed up and get louder.
Tabcat vs Airtag: Feature Comparison
Now let’s do a head-to-head comparison of the important features when using Tabcat and Airtag to track your cat.
Tabcat uses radio frequency technology so the handheld tracker indicates signal strength only. No exact location or GPS coordinates. However, it can pinpoint your cat’s position to within 2.5 cm which is very precise in close range.
Airtag relies on Apple’s Find My network so accuracy depends on proximity to other iPhones detecting it. It does not specify exact accuracy but reviews suggest 10-30 feet on average. Precision Finding on newer iPhones can get you closer.
Winner: Tabcat for superior close-range accuracy.
The stated range for Tabcat is 600 feet between the handheld and cat tag. This allows tracking in about a 2 block radius.
Airtag range is estimated around 800 feet though some users report issues even within 100 feet if there are no other iPhones nearby. Apple does not provide an official number.
Winner: Airtag has the potential for longer range by leveraging the Find My network.
Tabcat relies on radio frequency so does not offer real-time location tracking. The handheld device simply indicates if you are getting closer or farther from your cat based on signal strength.
Airtag shows your cat’s location in real-time on a map in the Find My app whenever it is detected by your phone or others in the Apple network. This provides a live view of your cat’s movements.
Winner: Airtag for real-time GPS style tracking.
The replaceable CR2032 battery in Tabcat tags is said to last up to 1 year depending on usage frequency. You can extend it by charging every 2-4 months.
Airtag also has a user-replaceable CR2032 battery with similar 1 year lifespan stated by Apple. It automatically goes into power reserve mode when unused to conserve battery.
Winner: Draw. Both offer around one year of battery life.
Tabcat does not provide any official water resistance rating. Based on its design, it appears the tag is splash resistant at best.
Airtag has an IP67 rating meaning it can be submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes without damage.
Winner: Airtag for superior water and dust protection.
Tabcat is a closed system so there are no subscription fees. You only pay for the initial hardware. There’s no cellular service or apps required.
Airtag leverages Apple’s massive Find My network but does not require a paid subscription either. All you need is an iPhone or other Apple device.
Winner: Draw. No monthly fees makes both very budget friendly.
Tabcat Pros and Cons
- Excellent 2.5 cm precision in close range
- No subscription fees ever
- Lightweight, durable tag works well on cats
- Good 600 foot tracking range
- 1+ year battery life
- No real-time location on a map
- Limited to only working with Tabcat tracker
- Not waterproof or splash-proof
- Tag can fall off collar
Airtag Pros and Cons
- Real-time location tracking via Find My network
- Long 800+ foot estimated range
- IP67 water and dust resistance
- Precision Finding guides you right to tag (iPhone 11/Pro or newer)
- No subscription fee
- Lacks precise close-range tracking
- Limited compatibility with Apple devices only
- Airtag alert sound may scare cats
- Needs iPhone nearby for best performance
- Small size makes it easy for cats to remove
- Not designed for pet use
Tabcat vs Airtag: Which is Better for Cats?
For cat owners prioritizing accuracy, especially over shorter distances, Tabcat is the winner. Its radio frequency tech provides unmatched 2.5cm precision which can really pinpoint a cat’s location in a room or yard.
Cat parents who want a real-time view of their cat’s outdoor location and movements will prefer Airtag. Its integration with Apple’s Find My network enables GPS-style tracking as long as your cat stays within range of other Apple devices.
Both Tabcat and Airtag offer conveniences like long battery life and no subscription fees. But Airtag’s lack of pet-friendly design, tendency to fall off cats, and Apple’s advice against using it for animal tracking makes Tabcat better suited as a dedicated cat tracker.
- Tabcat provides superior accuracy with 2.5cm precision in close range using radio frequency technology.
- Airtag offers real-time location tracking via Apple’s Find My network, with extended range through crowd-sourcing.
- Airtag’s small size and lack of pet-specific design makes it prone to falling off cats.
- Neither device requires a paid subscription which keeps costs low.
- Overall, Tabcat is designed specifically for pet tracking while Airtag is better for stationary items.
See how the SpaceHawk tracker compares to these options.
FAQs about Tabcat and Airtag
Can you use Airtag as cat tracker?
While Airtag can be used to track cats, Apple advises against using it for pets. The lack of a pet-friendly design causes Airtag to frequently detach and fall off cats. There are also no safety assurances that it is suitable for animal use.
Is Airtag safe for cats?
There are no safety standards or testing proving Airtag is safe and non-toxic for cats. Apple designed it for inanimate objects only. The adhesive and small removable battery may also pose risks if ingested by cats.
Is Airtag too heavy for cats?
Airtag weighs 0.39oz which is very lightweight but can still feel uncomfortable if attached improperly. Small cats or kittens likely cannot tolerate an Airtag’s extra weight on their collar for extended periods.
How do you attach Airtag to cat collar?
Airtag has no collar attachment so you need to purchase a separate collar holder or accessory. Make sure any third party Airtag holder or collar is designed for pets and properly secures the device.
Does Tabcat have monthly fees?
No, Tabcat does not require any monthly subscription or fees beyond the one-time hardware purchase. It uses proprietary radio frequency technology rather than cellular networks.
What is the range of Tabcat tracker?
Tabcat states its handheld tracker can detect signals from the cat tag at ranges up to 600 feet. This covers about a 2 block radius for tracking cats in your neighborhood.
Check out my review of the AngelSense tracker which is designed for pets.
The Bottom Line
Tracking devices give cat owners much needed peace of mind by allowing them to monitor their pet’s location and safety. While Airtag offers the advantage of real-time tracking through Apple’s Find My network, Tabcat is purpose built for pets and offers excellent accuracy and range.
For cat owners, Tabcat is the winner overall based on its pet-safe design, weight, superior close-range precision, and dedicated cat tracking features. Airtag is best suited to finding lost keys and wallets, not furry companions.
Have you tried either Tabcat or Airtag for tracking your cat? Let me know your experiences in the comments! I hope this guide helps you find the pawfect match.