Apple AirTag to track your indoor/outdoor cat or dog

The Apple AirTag is a device which is designed to allow people to find lost objects such as keys. It is, as usual, a beautifully made product and it both links with your Apple smartphone through Bluetooth and also on a much wider scale through a network of other Apple smartphone users. This is what makes it incredibly clever. The video below explains how that works.

Apple AirTag cat collar
Apple AirTag cat collar. Image: Amazon.
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This presentation is really good and it covers all the features of the Apple AirTag. He actually covers the useful bit regarding keeping track of your cat at long range at the end of the video by the way. So please be patient and get to that bit.

It was not designed to keep tabs on your cat while they are roaming around outside. However, there are many cat owners who become a little anxious about their indoor/outdoor cat when they are outside. They don’t know where they are or what they get up to.

It is useful to know what your indoor/outdoor cat gets up to when outside because it helps to assess whether they are living dangerously or are being sensible and cautious. This, then, is about a certain amount of supervision of your cat when they are allowed outside which I think is a beautiful idea.

Perhaps an important aspect of the Apple AirTag in terms of monitoring outdoor cat movements and activities is that it is much cheaper than the classic products on the market today which work through GPS but which demand a subscription.

The Apple AirTag is bought and used from the get go and there is no subscription service. It’s a pretty robust product and it is waterproof or water resistant which is useful. You can buy cat collars for the AirTag (£15.99 on Amazon as at March 2023 – see pic above).

And what is happening is that the advantages of using them for that pet tracking have been picked up by cat and dog owners. So, for example, in the UK, a worker at a branch of Currys, a seller of computers and many household items, said that:

We can’t sell enough Apple AirTags at the moment. I was surprised when customers said they were for tracking their pets. As they are £30, they are much cheaper than a subscription-based pet tracker. It is no real disaster if the device gets lost. Amazon is selling waterproof holders for dog and cat collars so you can attach the AirTag to the animal. People say they work well.

Bruce Forsyth’s daughter Debbie Matthews likes them. She uses them to track her dogs. She said:

I love mine as there is no subscription so a one-off payment and just batteries when needed.

She had a troublesome time with the conventional GPS trackers which costs £45 plus a subscription service of £12 a month. She commented on this GPS tracker service:

“I found it very laggy (my dog could have been and back from a walk before it picked them up and I’m in an urban area) and the annual subscription is expensive for what it offered.”

When Apple AirTags are working at a long distance, they create a network of Apple iPhone users of which there are very many which enables the owner of the device to pinpoint the location.

It even works to a certain extent with non-Apple devices. The video explains how that happens.

They sound very attractive to me and I might buy one although I don’t have an Apple iPhone at the moment! I do have a radio tracker for my cat which I use on occasions to locate him. Although it has limited range but it is quite effective.

Apple AirTags don’t always work perfectly according to Penelope Maltby, a dog photographer. She said:

AirTags are not GPS trackers for dogs, they are not advised for this purpose. The only trackers worth having are the ones made specially for dogs. The missing setter has an air tag on his collar (or he did when he went missing).

Apple advises against using the devices to track pets or children.

There are many alternative GPS trackers but as mentioned they are more expensive. My gut feeling is that it is worth trying Apple AirTags if you want to track your cat. What is very much against the GPS devices is the monthly expense and many people are already feeling the pinch in the UK because of the cost-of-living crisis. And many people who own cats and dogs struggle somewhat with the cost.

I know this because on social media you often see cat and dog owners asking for advice about cat and dog health from laypeople. They want to avoid going to the veterinarian.

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