Tiger is a special type of pedigree cat: there are very few Bengals in this country. When Tasania and her family heard about Bengal cats, with their unique coat markings and intelligent personalities, they decided that they wanted a kitten but there were none available in Ireland: they had to travel to England to find the new pet that they were looking for.
When Tiger was a young kitten, it was obvious that he had to be kept indoors: he was small and vulnerable. However as he has grown older, he has become strong and active, and Tasania began to worry that he might get frustrated if he was kept as an indoor-only cat. Her family has a female cat too, but she’s a quiet, calm cat who’s happy to spend much of her time snoozing. Tiger is far more energetic, continually prowling around the house, looking for ways to entertain himself.
Research has been carried out into the pros and cons of indoor versus outdoor life for cats. While it’s true that indoor-only cats have longer lives (because they aren’t exposed to risks like road traffic), they also suffer more from stress related conditions, including urinary tract infections. Indoor life suits some cats, but not all. After reflecting on this, Tasania’s family decided that it was time to let Tiger experience the great outdoors.
They had one major concern: what if Tiger got lost? He had never been beyond the four walls of their home, and if he got carried away playing outside, he might find himself a few hundred yards away. How could they be sure that he’d have a good enough sense of direction to find his way back home?
Most cats do seem to manage to find their way around without a problem: they must have some sort of inbuilt compass. But occasionally, cats go missing, and it’s very upsetting for owners when this happens.
When Tasania’s family asked me about their concern, I suggested a new idea that will help: a GPS enabled collar. This looks similar to a standard cat collar, but it’s thicker and wider than normal, and it contains the latest location-detecting electronics. It weighs around 50 grams: just less than two ounces.
Tiger is already used to wearing a collar around the home, so he’ll easily adapt to this slightly bigger version. The collar has a quick-release mechanismso that if the collar catches in a branch or some other sort of snag, Tiger will be able to slip out of it easily.
Tasania has to download a special app onto a smart phone or tablet: the app includes a Google-maps display. She can then see precisely where Tiger is, at any time of day or night. She can also see a dotted line which shows where he has been wandering for the previous day, week or month.
If the collar falls off, she’ll be able to find out where it is by checking the map on the app, or she can use the app to make the collar beep loudly, so that she can find it by going to the approximate area and listening for the sound.
The GPS collar isn’t cheap, at around €200, and after the first year, a monthly SIM card fee of around €7 per month needs to be paid. But if you ask anyone who has lost their cat, they’ll tell you that this is good value. Apart from the emotional distress of losing a cat, there’s the cost of printing posters and perhaps offering a reward to motivate people to help you hunt for him.
Tiger’s GPS collar is available from www.pawtrack.com