Saturday, January 21, 2017

Caturday: TabCat Sent Us a TabCat!

TabCat sent me a kitty tracker of my very own, and so far I am VERY impressed! This is a short-range radio tracking device that helps you find your cat even if they are hiding. It comes with two tags, and two more can be added to each handset. The batteries can last up to a year, and there is no subscription fee.
Radio tracking cat locater
The tag.

When I first mentioned TabCat here on The Dog Geek, I reported that quality control and customer service were lacking. Obviously the company is working hard to correct those perceptions, as they found my post and offered to let me try it for myself.

The TabCat tags are little round plastic discs that fit inside flexible shells that are described as "splash-proof". Not something you want to stick on your dog before they jump in the swimming pool, but anything short of full submersion should be fine. The collar slides through a couple of slots on the cover, which has me mildly concerned about the rubbery material wearing through. However, the tag is quite light and my cats aren't nearly as hard on gear as my dogs. The tag does also have a hole through which I could thread a key ring or zip tie for extra security.

I saw a lot of complaints about the size of the tag, but the current model seems reasonable. It might be big for a super tiny kitten, but even the smallest cat in the household can wear it comfortably. James is accustomed to wearing a collar with an identification tag as well as a microchip tag, so he hasn't noticed his new tag.

I decided to put the second tag on my father's car, Ravel. (Named for composer Maurice Ravel, pronounced ra-velle.) Ravel and his litter sister Pamina are from the same mother as the Hellions, but are significantly smarter and less destructive. While James attempts to escape the house on a regular basis, Ravel is actually allowed outside. I hoped this would give me an opportunity to test the TabCat without waiting for James to go missing.

I read of review of TabCat that described it as a kitty Geiger counter, and after using it I have to agree. The handset shows a series of lights that change as you get closer to the tag, and it also makes noises that change with proximity. The tag itself beeps when you are actively tracking it, and the handset can be muted to allow you to listen for the beep. You can even teach your cat that the beeping mean dinner time! I have not attempted this yet because my cats are certain that dinner time is 24/7 and refuse to leave me alone.
Found it!

We got to properly test the TabCat a few days ago when Ravel came home without his collar. An initial sweep around the house got no response from the handset. A walk around the property finally revealed a weak signal coming from the drainage ditch behind the house. I had expected to find the tag just over the cinderblock wall at the edge of the yard.

The TabCat remote worked perfectly, and led me straight to where the collar was caught on a bit of chainlink fence around an apartment complex. This was at least 200' away from the house, and not only was there a block wall in the way, but there was quite a bit of elevation difference as well. TabCat advertised range is 400' unobstructed. Mine was obstructed by quite a bit of dirt and cement, but still managed to get a signal from 200' away. How cool is that?

This is a really neat product, both for indoor cats that might get out and disappear, and for outdoor cats that can be hard to find. My parents had no idea that Ravel ventured that far from the house! The system is quite easy to use, I was able to explain how to turn on the remote and start tracking in a quick text message. It's also, admittedly, really fun to play with. If you need me, I'll be over here pretending I'm fitting lions with radio tracking collars...

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