Tabcat vs Tractive GPS: Which is the Best Pet Tracker for Your Cat?

February 12, 2024

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Finding the ideal pet tracker to keep your curious cat safe can feel overwhelming. With so many options available, how do you know which one is right for your feline friend?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare two of the most popular cat trackers on the market: Tabcat and Tractive GPS.

After extensive testing and research, we’ve broken down the key differences between these two trackers across 10 factors:

  • Tracking technology
  • Design and size
  • Durability
  • Tracking features
  • Activity monitoring
  • Training assistance
  • Extra features
  • Range and coverage
  • Smartphone app
  • Price and fees

By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to decide whether the Tabcat or Tractive GPS tracker best meets your cat’s needs and your budget.

How Pet Trackers Work

Before diving into the details, let’s quickly cover how these pet trackers actually work to locate your cat.

There are 2 main technologies used:

Radio Frequency Trackers

Radio frequency (RF) trackers like Tabcat and Marco Polo use radio waves to communicate between a handheld device and a tag on your cat’s collar. Tabcat is made by Loc8tor and you can see how it stacks up against the Loc8tor pet tracker itself in this Tabcat vs Loc8tor comparison.

The handheld device provides audio and visual cues that get stronger as you get closer to your cat’s location. Many use lights, sounds, and vibration to guide you.

RF trackers offer short range tracking, usually around 400 feet maximum. They can work well indoors and in areas with poor GPS connectivity.

GPS Trackers

GPS trackers like Tractive and Whistle use a combination of GPS satellite tracking plus cellular data networks.

The GPS satellites pinpoint your cat’s exact coordinates. The cellular data connection allows the tracker to transmit this location data back to your phone so you can view your cat’s whereabouts in real-time.

GPS trackers offer long range tracking with no distance limitations. However, they rely on cellular service availability.

Now let’s see how Tabcat and Tractive GPS compare across the key factors pet owners should consider.

Tabcat vs Tractive GPS Comparison

Tracking Technology

  • Tabcat uses radio frequency technology.
  • Tractive GPS uses GPS and cellular networks.

This key difference affects factors like range, mapping capabilities, and fees.

Design and Size

Tabcat

Tabcat Cat Tracker 4
  • The Tabcat system consists of a handheld locator device and small circular tags that attach to your cat’s collar.
  • The locator is 4.5 x 2.5 x 0.75 inches and weighs 5.6 ounces.
  • The tags are 1.2 x 0.8 x 0.2 inches and weigh just 0.2 ounces.
  • The Tabcat tags are among the smallest and lightest RF tracking tags available.

Tractive GPS

Tractive
  • The Tractive GPS is a standalone tracking module that clips onto your cat’s existing collar.
  • The device is 2 x 1.6 x 0.6 inches and weighs just 1.23 ounces.
  • It comes in fun colors like pink and blue.
  • The compact, lightweight module is designed for cat comfort.

⬆️ Winner: Tractive GPS is smaller and lighter overall.

Durability

Tabcat

  • The Tabcat tags are not fully waterproof or shockproof.
  • The included protective cases provide basic splash protection.
  • Tags may need frequent replacing if compromised.
  • Locator headset is fairly durable.
Tabcat Cat Tracker 2

Tractive GPS

  • Rated IPX7 waterproof for immersion up to 3 feet for 30 minutes.
  • Built to withstand shock, scratches, and weather.
  • Rechargeable battery may diminish after years of use.
  • Overall extremely durable design.
Tractive For Cats
Tractive

⬆️ Winner: Tractive GPS is much more durable, ideal for adventure cats.

Tracking Features

Tabcat

  • Uses audio tones and flashing lights on locator and tag to indicate proximity.
  • No mapping, coordinates, or breadcrumbs.
  • Essentially a “hot and cold” game.
Tabcat Cat Trackers Real Time Tracking

Tractive GPS

  • Real-time location tracking on interactive map.
  • Tracks speed, altitude, distance travelled.
  • Location history breadcrumbs.
  • Live tracking updates every 2-3 seconds.
  • Virtual fence safe zones.
  • Augmented reality tracking modes.
Tractive Activity

⬆️ Winner: Tractive GPS offers far more robust tracking features and data.

Activity Monitoring

  • Neither Tabcat nor Tractive GPS provide built-in activity monitoring for cats.
  • With Tractive GPS you can calculate some metrics like distance travelled yourself.
Tractive Tracking Features
Tractive

Training Assistance

Tabcat

  • Allows training cats to come home using audio tones from the tag.

Tractive GPS

  • No remote training features. Speaker functionality not available in US due to regulations.

⬆️ Winner: Tabcat’s audio cues provide remote training assistance.

Extra Features

Tabcat

  • No real extra features. Provides basic location tracking only.

Tractive GPS

  • Family sharing of real-time location.
  • Health reports and data exports.
  • Location sharing via text and email.
  • Customizable sof zones and alerts.
  • Integrates with Google Maps.
Tractive Geofencing
Tractive

⬆️ Winner: Tractive GPS offers many useful extra features.

Range and Coverage

Tabcat

  • Operates on radio frequency only.
  • Effective range of 400 feet line-of-sight.
  • Can track through walls and floors.
  • Worldwide use.

Tractive GPS

  • Operates on GPS plus cell networks.
  • Unlimited range, depending on cell coverage.
  • Works in 150+ countries.
  • Does not work well indoors or where cell signal is weak.

⬆️ Winner: Tractive GPS has unlimited range but depends on cell connectivity. Tabcat has shorter yet more consistent range as it operates on radio frequency without cell networks.

Smartphone App

Tabcat

  • Does not have smartphone app connectivity.
  • Must use locator device only.

Tractive GPS

  • User-friendly iOS and Android app.
  • Provides interactive maps and real-time tracking.
  • Tracks multiple pets in one account.
  • Highly rated app.
Tractive's App

⬆️ Winner: Tractive GPS offers full app integration that Tabcat lacks.

Price and Fees

Tabcat

  • $99.99 for starter bundle.
  • No monthly fees required!
  • Just pay to replace batteries or damaged tags.
Shop Tabcat on Amazon

Tractive GPS

  • $79.99 for device.
  • Requires monthly subscription plans:
    • Basic: $5.76-$6.99/month
    • Premium: $9.90-$11.90/month
  • Longer plans offer discounted rates.
Shop Tractive on Amazon

⬆️ Winner: Tabcat is cheaper with no recurring fees, but has less features. If avoiding subscription fees is a priority for you, check out alternatives like this cheap cat GPS tracker option.

Key Takeaways: Tabcat vs Tractive GPS

  • Tabcat uses radio frequency for short range indoor/outdoor tracking. No GPS or cell service required like Tractive.
  • Tractive GPS combines GPS and cellular networks for long range, real-time tracking anywhere with cell service unlike RF trackers like Tabcat.
  • Tabcat tags are extremely small and lightweight. Tractive GPS is also compact and great for cats.
  • Tractive GPS is more durable and waterproof. Tabcat tags require protective cases.
  • Tractive GPS provides more advanced real-time tracking features and mapping capabilities.
  • Tabcat offers training features to teach cats to return home. Useful for indoor cats getting outdoor time.
  • Tractive GPS has family sharing, custom alerts, health reports, and many additional features Tabcat lacks.
  • Tabcat has a maximum 400 foot range but consistent reliability. Tractive GPS relies on cellular signal so range varies.
  • Tractive GPS integrates with full-featured iOS/Android app. Tabcat uses standalone locator device only.
  • Tabcat has no monthly fees. Tractive GPS requires a monthly cellular plan subscription. Explore other no monthly fee options if payments are a concern.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between Tabcat and Tractive GPS?

The core differences are that Tabcat uses radio frequency for short range indoor/outdoor tracking, while Tractive GPS uses GPS and cellular networks for long range real-time tracking. Tractive also offers more advanced tracking features and smartphone app connectivity.

Which is more affordable for cat owners?

Tabcat only has the upfront cost of the device. Tractive GPS requires an ongoing monthly subscription fee for cellular service. Over time, Tractive GPS ends up being more expensive for cat owners.

Which tracker has the longer range?

Tractive GPS has unlimited range as long as there is cellular signal available. Tabcat has a maximum range of 400 feet line-of-sight between tracker and handheld locator.

Which is better for indoor cats going outside?

Tabcat can be good for teaching indoor cats to come home when called using the audio cues. Tractive GPS offers unlimited range which provides more flexibility for indoor/outdoor cats.

Which tracker is smaller and more comfortable for cats?

Tabcat’s tags are extremely compact and one of the lightest RF tags available. Tractive GPS is also small and lightweight enough for comfortable cat wear.

Which provides more useful tracking features and data?

Tractive GPS offers live tracking, mapping, virtual fences, altitude, speed, location history, activity sharing, and more. Tabcat essentially just provides proximity detection.

Which is more durable and waterproof?

The Tractive GPS device itself is extremely durable with 30 minute 3 foot submersion waterproofing. Tabcat’s tags need protective cases to withstand elements or adventure cats.

Which works better in remote areas without cell service?

Tabcat will function anywhere since it operates on radio frequency without cell networks. Tractive GPS will not work in areas without cellular service coverage like remote rural areas.

The Verdict: Which is Better for Your Cat?

For indoor cats permitted supervised outdoor time: Tabcat is likely the better choice. The training features help teach cats to come when called, and the lower cost and smaller tags suit low-risk indoor kitties well.

For adventure cats or semi-outdoor cats: Tractive GPS is ideal for bold explorers. The unlimited range, robust features, smartphone connectivity, and durability provide indispensable peace of mind for wander-prone felines.

On a tight budget: Tabcat is the clear value buy. While it lacks premium features, it provides essential tracking at an affordable one-time cost.

Wanting maximum features: Tractive GPS offers everything most cat parents could dream of like live tracking, mapping, virtual fences, activity records, health export, and even augmented reality modes. Worth the monthly fee for some.

Living in a remote area: Tabcat is the better pick if you live off the grid. Tractive GPS relies on cellular networks which may be unreliable in rural areas. Tabcat provides short range yet consistent tracking.

At the end of the day, there is no definitively “better” tracker overall. The right choice depends entirely on your cat’s personality, your budget, and your peace of mind priorities.

Hopefully this detailed Tabcat and Tractive GPS comparison has helped highlight which features matter most so you can make the perfect match for your feline and lifestyle!