Cat Tracker Frequently Asked Questions

We download all of the responses to the personality test once a week to generate and send out new reports. If you just took the survey, please wait a few days for the results to come through. We apologize for the delay, this allows us to check for any problems that would prevent accuracy in the reports and save copies to be used for research.

However, if it has been several weeks since you took the survey and you have not received a report, please email us at cats@yourwildlife.org. There may have been a problem with your survey. We can check through the results and let you know.

Also, if you chose not to take the personality test, you will not receive a report. The other questions on the survey exist to gauge knowledge about and attitude towards cats. They are for research purposes only.

We are comparing the isotopes present in your cat’s hair to your cat’s food to determine if your cat is eating something elsewhere, such as wildlife. Indoor cats are very unlikely to be eating anything other than what you are feeding them, so we would prefer if you did not participate in the diet study.

Participation is simple, but there are several important conditions.
(1) You must own the cat. No neighborhood cats please!
(2) The cat needs to spend time both inside your home and freely roaming outside.
(3) Your local leash laws must be observed.
(4) You must first electronically sign the Participant Consent Form and complete the Participant Questionnaire
(5) Specific project equipment is required. (See next question)

Yes! We are definitely interested in tracking cats from multi-cat households. Please fill out a new Participant Questionnaire for each individual cat.

Many indoor/outdoor cats wear collars to support bells or identification tags. The risks involved with the project’s harness are similar to the risks of a simple collar. Although, most cats appear to tolerate the harness well, if your cat is having any difficulty eating or drinking, or if your cat’s behavior is markedly different even after it has had a chance to acclimate to the harness, consider loosening or removing it.

If you live in the Raleigh/Durham area of NC or in the Fairfield/Westchester counties of CT, then you may be eligible to borrow the GPS and harness, and won’t need to buy any additional equipment. For more information on this option, please select the appropriate box in the Participant Questionnaire or email us at cats@yourwildlife.org.

Other participants should follow the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Instructions for assembling the cat GPS harness. This requires the purchasing of one Cat-It H-style harness (size depending) and one i-gotU GT-120 GPS unit. Additionally DIYs will also need a PC or partitioned Mac to program the GPS unit.

Do not fret, your application has been received! Due to a limited number of gps units for loaning, we try to lend out units to cat owners on a first come first serve basis but also take into account where participants live next to each other to schedule our stops more efficiently. This means that you may be on a waiting list for your area until a unit becomes available. You are welcome to inquire about your status any time by emailing cats@yourwildlife.org. We appreciate your patience!

If you registered as a DIY then you can start tracking as soon as you get your equipment. Please email cats@yourwildlife.org should you have any questions about the process.

If your cat is wearing the harness and a programmed GPS unit, then there is nothing more for you to do! Let her outside and inside as you normally would. After the first five days, remove GPS unit and follow the instructions for downloading the data and uploading it to Cat Tracker. After downloading, charge the GPS unit for 4 hours and place back into the harness. Continue tracking for another 5 days, at the end of which you may remove the harness and GPS. Don’t forget to download the second set of tracking days!

The GPS bumper case included with the recommended unit was not made with rough and tumble felines in mind. There are two options to help prevent the potential loss of the GPS unit.

  1. If the case starts to develop a tear, a long piece of packing/mailing tape can be cut to the width of the unit and then tightly wound around the case, unit and harness three or four times to provide extra stability.
  2. Alternatively, you can also print a sturdier cover using our 3D printer case file, available for download at thingiverse.com/thing:564300. For more information about how to attach the printed case to your Cat-It H-style harness email the Cat Tracker team at cats@yourwildlife.org.  Click here to view a sample finished version of a 3D printer case.

The harness may be too loose if the GPS is falling to the cat’s side. Try fitting it to your cat more snuggly. In our experience, a snug fitting harness that allows the cat to comfortably eat, drink and move should hold the unit in place. If this does not work, you can also try stitching the GPS case to the middle strap at the point closest to the cat’s shoulders where side-to-side motion is minimized.

Your cat’s data normally takes a week before it can be seen on our Cat Tracks page. A confirmation email will be sent to you before the tracks are published on our website. You can always inquire about your cat’s track status by emailing us at cats@yourwildlife.org!

Once you upload your cat’s movement data from the GPS unit, our team will process the information to create a track map. Within a week, you will be able to see your cat’s track (and his/her picture if one was provided) on the Cat Tracks page!

We will also share the data with Movebank, a free online database of animal tracking data coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and the University of Konstanz.

The GPS unit is prone to some inaccuracy over short distances such as when it is turned on inside your house or near tall buildings. In order to correct this you can right click the data, select “attributes”, and check the optimization box like mentioned on the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Instructions page. This will help to correct some of the starburst pattern and reveal a more polygonal shape that is more accurate map of your cats movement. The data that you then send to us will then go through another filter known as a “Speed Filter” that will weed out any other inconsistencies. As a final test, one of the Cat Tracker team members will then personally review your cat’s data to make sure everything looks good. This finalized map of your cat’s trip will be sent you via email and published on our website under the Cat Tracks page!

Your name, identity, and specific street address will remain confidential, and known only to the research team.  Your identity will not be associated with your cat’s movement or diet/microbiome data in oral, electronic or written reports.

Please note that the general vicinity of your home at the neighborhood or street level may be apparent when users employ the close zoom function to view your cat’s movement track (integrated with Google maps).

By signing the consent form, you give us permission to share your cat’s track and your cat’s name. If you would like your cat’s track to include a picture of him/her, you can voluntarily upload a favorite photo.