Find a Black Cat in the Dark During a 3-Minute Evac with TabCat

With the devastating wildfires burning 50 miles away, and with a home that sits on the border of a tinder-dry expanse of forested open space, I have been wracked with anxiety this week over the fire danger.

The death toll is up to 40 and is expected to rise. Many of those who perished were trapped in homes engulfed in flames by the fast-moving inferno in the wee hours of the morning. Those who did make it out had just minutes–as in, less than five–to grab their loved ones, find the car keys, and bolt. Others were not alerted or awakened in time to escape. Cell phone towers were down; power was out. No phone alerts came through. The fire moved too quickly for responders to evacuate everyone.

Every night this week, as I obsess about it into the wee hours, I play through the scenario my mind: in the middle of the night, with the power out and a wall of flames approaching, would we be able to find the cats, get them in carriers and be out the door in three minutes or less?

We have a large house with lots of hidey holes. The four cats spread out to different spots at night. If Tripper is not sleeping atop my bladder, he’s usually in the family room. The brothers are usually together in one of a dozen different spots–but if they aren’t, Homer, the black, cat wears a cloak of invisibility in low light situations. If he’s not with Reno (who is nearly white and easy to spot), he is impossible to see. Banzai is often MIA, favoring the backs of closets and some of their secret passageways.

Our holy grail of cat tracking is TabCat, and TabCat gives me some assurance and peace of mind that we would be able to find all four cats in a pitch black house in the middle of the night, get them in carriers and out the door within five minutes. (Ultimate goal is 3 minutes.)

I’ve tried a couple of other trackers, and they just don’t work for us. We get crappy cell phone service in the hills so mobile phone-based GPS apps haven’t worked. Either the signal strength is too low or the results are too inaccurate to be usable. Most of them need a clear view of a satellite, so if a cat is indoors or locked in a neighbor’s garage, you won’t get a reading. If a cell tower is knocked out in a firestorm, you won’t be able to use the app. The collar dongles were way too heavy and unwieldy for a cat.

For TabCat, a small tag-sized transponder goes on the collar, held with a sleeve that comes in Tiffany blue. When you need to track the cat, you grab the credit-card-sized locator. Loc8tor Pet’s unique dual directional technology system gives you both audio and visual cues to guide you right to your cat. It works like an electronic game of hot and cold and will show you the right direction to walk to find your cat. A little beep goes off on the collar tag, and if you train your cat to know that he’ll get treats when he’s located, the beeping on the collar tends send him running to meet you.

The collar tag is nearly weightless: a mere 5 grams. The device can track up to 400 feet with a clear line of sight. The tag won’t rust out from getting dunked in the water dish; it fits neatly in a plastic sleeve atop the collar.

So why bother with a tracker if you’ve got indoor cats?

Indoor cats slip out… maybe your idiot brother-in-law leaves the door wide open even though you’ve told him a gazillion times to keep it closed and not let the cats out. A workman could be careless. Or. a devious demon kitten discovers how to pry open the screen door slider so that he can bolt down the hill and roll in the poison oak. Or… for those times when you’ve got 3 minutes to find your cat in the dark and evacuate.

Yes, this week, the real power of TabCat became clear: It can identify where in a pitch-black power’s-out house each of our four cats is. So if I am rousted from bed at 2 am and have 3 minutes or less to clear out, the Tab Cat loc8tor will track them down all four of them tout de suite. Each loc8tor can track up to four cats.

The set comes with two dongles and a tracker for just under $100.  You can buy extra dongles separately to add up to 4 cats per tracker.

 


THE FINE PRINT: The product was given to Mousebreath free of charge in exchange for a product review. We have used versions of this product for several years, and continue to recommend it above all other cat trackers.

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Category: Featured, Lifestyle, Product Review

About the Author ()

Mousebreath Magazine is an award-winning online magazine that celebrates cats and the cat-centric lifestyle. Editor Karen Nichols is a popular conference speaker and writer, whose current project is The Cat Scout Handbook. She is also the denmaster at CatScouts.com.

Comments (4)

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  1. Katie Isabella says:

    wow. I would like to have that!

  2. Ellen Pilch says:

    I would be filled with anxiety too if I lived that close to the fires. I will be praying for your safety and all those affected. I always worry about what I would do in a fire with 12 cats.

  3. Bernadette says:

    I’m not sure I’d sleep! I hope for your sake and everyone else’s it’s under control before there is any more loss.

    Cats can also get themselves stuck in some darned tight spots inside your house, like in your wall, or in the attic, or even in your ductwork. I can think of a half dozen times when finding a cat wearing one of those would have saved a lot of time, and even saved a life.

    • Mousebreath Magazine says:

      Bernadette, I thought of you when I began obsessing over how I would find ONE black cat with the power out. If I had to figure out how to find multiple black cats under those circumstances my brain might explode.

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