How to build a radio-tracking collar for cats

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How to build a radio-tracking collar for cats
A radio-tracking collar makes it easier to find your missing cat (curious cat image by Janet Wall from

Dog may be man's best friend, but it is the domestic cat that is the most popular pet across the globe. In the U.S., more than one-third of American homes keep cats as pets. It is believed that the number of domestic cats brought up as pets exceeds 600 million globally. If your cat is missing, you should be able to find it using radio technology. You can make your own cat collar with a radio transmitter.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 1 inch acrylic belt
  • Slip-on low-power radio transmitter
  • Directional receiver
  • Handheld receiver
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • 1 inch soft buckle
  • Needle and thread
  • Cellphone

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  1. 1

    Select a collar that is light, slip-proof and non-metallic. An acrylic belt is a good option. Since you know your cat best, use this knowledge when selecting a collar material.

  2. 2

    Measure the circumference of your cat's neck. Cut the belt to the correct size, leaving about a 3 inch surplus. Insert the surplus into the belt loops. If the buckle feels hard, replace it with a soft buckle and sew it in place using needle and thread. Put the collar on the cat. Run your finger inside the collar to check that it fits loosely around your cat's neck. Take off the collar.

  3. 3

    Purchase a slip-on transmitter from a pet shop. Expect to pay up to £32. Insert a coin-shaped battery into the battery slot of the transmitter. Attach the slip-on, low-power transmitter to the collar, ensuring that the belt does not wrinkle when passed through the retaining clips or loops on the rear of the transmitter. Purchase a radio signal receiver with the transmitter. This will cost £52 to £110.

  4. 4

    Put the collar on your cat. Position the transmitter at the rear of its neck. Run your finger inside the collar to check that the fit is not too loose or too tight.

  5. 5

    Leave the cat in a room and move to another. Switch on the receiver and listen for the audio signal. Take the cat outside and give the receiver to a family member or friend. Walk to an open location such as a park about 0.6 miles away and have the other person find you using the receiver. Keep in touch with each other by phone. Get feedback on how well the audio signal helped the person track you and your cat.

  6. 6

    Reverse roles. Have your friend go into a building about 0.9 miles away. You should not know where this spot is. Start your search. Switch on the receiver and you will hear a faint signal from the cat's transmitter. Rotate a full circle to determine which direction gives you the loudest output. Move in that direction. As you get closer to the cat, the audio signal becomes stronger. Assess the direction and distance to your cat. This experiment will be of great help in case your cat strays in the future.

Tips and warnings

  • Remember that the transmitter transmits at fixed-time intervals. If the audio signal weakens as you move, retrace your steps and look for a manhole, drainpipe or tree. If you're in a wooded area, look for a cave or rabbit warren.
  • Select a receiver that guarantees you the maximum distance for locating a transmitter.
  • Do not buy a GPS tracking system. It is expensive and will not be able to pick out a cat in a manhole or basement.
  • The low-weight, low-power system works for a distance of 1.2 miles. If a cat stray farther than that, broaden your search in circles of increasing diameter. Enlist the help of authorities.
  • Avoid using thick or wide material for the collar to prevent chafing the cat's neck.

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