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What is the Difference between a Microchip and a Cat Tracker?

Microchip and a Cat Tracker

In the ever-evolving landscape of pet care and technology, ensuring the safety and well-being of our feline friends takes center stage. Among the arsenal of tools available, microchips and cat trackers emerge as key players in the realm of pet identification. While both serve the common goal of keeping tabs on our beloved companions, understanding the nuances between a microchip and a cat tracker is crucial.

Join us on a journey as we unravel the mysteries of these two technologies, exploring the differences that set them apart and discovering how they work harmoniously to safeguard our whiskered companions.

Comparison Table

FactorMicrochipCat Tracker
FunctionalityIdentificationReal-time Tracking
Location TrackingAbsentPresent
Usage RangeLimited ProximityNear & Far
Alerts & NotificationsNoneGeofencing, Alerts
SubscriptionNot RequiredMonthly Subscription
MaintenanceLifelongPeriodic Charging
AccuracyGeneral AreaPrecise Location
Global CoverageNoYes
Immediate RetrievalNot PossibleThrough Tracking
Preventive MeasuresNoYes
Identification SpeedUpon ScanningReal-time
User InteractivityLimitedHigh, App Interaction
Tracking HistoryNoYes
Weight of DeviceLightweightSlightly Heavier
Ease of ImplantationRequires Vet VisitSimple Attachment to Collar

Microchips: Identification after the Fact

Microchips often likened to the size of a grain of rice, are tiny devices implanted under a pet’s skin. This procedure is a common practice and serves a crucial role in reuniting lost pets with their owners. The microchip contains a unique identification number, akin to a pet’s social security number. However, it’s important to note that microchips are not equipped with GPS tracking capabilities.

The process is straightforward: when a lost pet is brought to a veterinarian or shelter, the microchip is scanned, revealing the pet’s identification number. This number is then used to contact the owner. While microchips are invaluable for identifying lost pets, they are reactive in nature, only coming into play after the pet has been found.

Microchip Pros

  • Implantation is a one-time procedure.
  • No need for a rechargeable battery.
  • Serves as a permanent form of identification.

Microchip Cons

  • Cannot track a pet in real-time.
  • Relies on a vet or shelter to scan and identify the pet.
  • Limited to providing information after the pet is found.

GPS Trackers: Real-Time Pet Monitoring

In contrast, GPS trackers are proactive guardians of our pets. These devices, usually attached to a pet’s collar, utilize Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to provide real-time location tracking. This means pet owners can actively monitor their pet’s movements, receiving continuous updates through a dedicated app.

Unlike microchips, GPS trackers operate worldwide, ensuring coverage even in areas without 4G or 5G signals. They require a subscription for services and often come with additional features such as activity monitoring and the ability to create “safe zones.” These safe zones allow owners to define specific areas where their pets can roam freely. If the pet ventures beyond these boundaries, instant alerts are triggered.

GPS Tracker Pros

  • Real-time location tracking.
  • Worldwide coverage.
  • Immediate alerts if a pet leaves a designated area.
  • Additional features like activity monitoring.

GPS Tracker Cons

  • Requires a subscription.
  • Needs a rechargeable battery.

Microchip vs Cat Tracker – Major Differences



Microchips are passive devices utilizing radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. They remain dormant until activated by a scanner, lacking the ability to actively transmit signals.

Cat Tracker

Cat trackers, in contrast, are active devices leveraging GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. Actively communicating with satellites, they continuously determine the cat’s precise real-time location.

Grey car on brown surface



Microchips serve as a permanent form of identification. They store a unique ID number, crucial for reuniting lost pets with owners, accessible when scanned by a vet or shelter equipped with a microchip scanner.

Cat Tracker

Cat trackers go beyond identification, offering real-time tracking of a cat’s movements. By utilizing GPS signals, they provide continuous updates on the cat’s exact location through a mobile app or tracking device.

Location Tracking


Microchips lack location-tracking capabilities. They can only provide information about a pet’s owner when scanned, offering no real-time tracking features.

Cat Tracker

In contrast, cat trackers excel in real-time location tracking. Pet owners receive continuous updates on their cat’s movements, allowing active monitoring through a map interface for enhanced awareness.

Usage Range


Microchips possess a limited range, readable only by a scanner in close proximity. This restriction makes them unsuitable for monitoring a pet’s movements over extended distances.

Cat Tracker

In contrast, cat trackers have a wider range, and their effectiveness is not restricted by proximity. They can track a cat’s location both near and far, making them suitable for various environments.

Alerts and Notifications


Microchips lack alert or notification features. Their primary function is limited to identification, activated when a lost pet is found through scanning.

Cat Tracker

Cat trackers often come with features such as geofencing, enabling pet owners to set virtual boundaries. If a cat strays beyond these predefined zones, the tracker sends instant alerts to the owner’s device.

Subscription and Maintenance


Microchips operate without the need for subscriptions. Once implanted, they serve as a lifelong and cost-free form of identification.

Cat Tracker

Cat trackers typically necessitate a monthly subscription for access to GPS services. Additionally, periodic recharging of batteries is required to maintain continuous functionality, incurring ongoing maintenance needs.

How to Microchip a Cat?

Microchipping a cat is a straightforward process that can be conducted by a veterinarian, local authority, or a trained member of an animal welfare organization. The microchip, approximately the size of a grain of rice, is inserted under the cat’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades. This procedure is relatively painless, akin to a standard injection, and does not necessitate surgery or anesthesia.

Here are the steps involved in microchipping a cat:

  • Positioning the Cat: Ensure the cat is standing or lying on its stomach.
  • Skin Preparation: Gently lift the loose skin between the shoulder blades.
  • Microchip Insertion: Swiftly insert the needle.
  • Application: Press the applicator to the designated area.

The microchip assigns a unique code to the cat. In cases where a cat is adopted from a shelter or rehomed, they might already have a microchip. During the next vet appointment, the cat can be scanned for a microchip to register its ID number. This ensures that the cat’s information is linked to the microchip, facilitating a swift reunion if the cat ever goes missing.

cat shows love

Can You GPS Track A Microchip Cat?

No, a microchip implanted in a cat is not designed for GPS tracking. As we know, microchips are passive RFID devices used for pet identification, containing a unique number that can be scanned at shelters or vet clinics so they lack GPS capabilities. To track a cat’s location, separate GPS tracking devices, such as collars with GPS technology, are required. While microchips are crucial for reuniting lost pets with owners, they serve a different purpose than GPS trackers, which are specifically designed for location tracking.

How Much Does it Cost to Microchip a Cat?

The expense of microchipping a cat typically falls in the range of $45 to $70. This cost covers the microchip itself, the implantation procedure, and any associated registration fees. It’s important to note that this estimate does not include veterinary examination fees.

However, there are instances where charities and cat rescue organizations offer microchipping services either for free or at a reduced rate. Notably, organizations like the RSPCA have organized free microchipping events to support pet owners.


As we explore microchips and cat trackers, it’s evident they each have a vital role in keeping our pets safe. Microchips work like ID cards, helping find lost pets, while cat trackers actively monitor real-time movements. Together, they create a complete safety net for our furry pals, ensuring quick reunions and preventing wandering adventures. By embracing both technologies, we ensure our pets live secure and happy lives. In the ever-changing world of pet care, microchips and cat trackers stand side by side, offering a simple yet powerful solution for pet owners everywhere.

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