Thanks to the Jiobit for Cats, We Can Now Find Mr. Tippy

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Let me introduce you to Mr. Tippy. This is a cat who managed to get lost inside a car (he was wrapped around the steering column) and in the ceiling of our basement (it took the combined efforts of two contractors, the local animal control folks, and a witch to get him out). Mr. Tippy was a cat in dire need of a GPS locator system—specifically, the Jiobit for cats.

I acquired Mr. Tippy in 2015, two years after his owner died. He was used to living outdoors and clearly expected some outdoor access. We allow him out for a few hours mid-day.

While our other cats are content to lounge around in our yard, Mr. Tippy likes to explore the neighborhood. Mostly he comes home when called. Sometimes he does not. We were spending a lot of time wandering the neighborhood ourselves—looking for Mr. Tippy. Not fun.

We tried putting an RFID on Mr. Tippy, but his range was too unpredictable for radio waves, and we often simply couldn’t pick up his signal from our base station.

No, Mr. Tippy needed the GPS with cellular, wifi, Bluetooth, and a subscription to a real-time tracking service. (Yes, this is a cat with issues and a subscription.)

This review gives a sense of what the Jiobit for cats can and can’t do—including what happens when the cat loses their tracking collar. (Oh, yes, this happened. We’re talking about Mr. Tippy here.) We’ll walk through the app, the tracking device, and the charger—and Mr. Tippy. He’s a male calico cat, and yes, his ears were trimmed to remove sun damage. But that’s another story.

How the Jiobit for Cats Works

Devices using satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) technology are everywhere today, from navigational software to package tracking. Just as you can use your smartphone to see where the delivery truck is, you can now see if your kitty is in the neighbors’ back yard—and which way they’re heading. Have multiple cats? The app can track multiple devices.

The Jiobit works best when it can access multiple data systems: cellular data systems (including 5G), WiFi, and Bluetooth.

The short-range Bluetooth wireless technology lets you keep track of a cat’s position inside your house or in a nearby yard, while WiFi lets you track a distant cat from your home network (without using data), and cell service allows you see your pet’s location no matter where you are.

Calico cat on table wears Jiobit GPS device

Mr. Tippy displays his Jiobit to envious admirers.

The tracking device must be charged regularly—at least once a week for the latest Jiobit model. You’ll need to charge more often if you are using the Jiobit in Live Mode (which streams real-time location updates rather than sending them periodically). Fortunately, the app reminds you when the device’s battery needs charging.

All the settings and reports appear on the Jiobit app on your smartphone. Jiobit’s satellites follow your cat’s unique device and send that positional information to your phone, where it appears on a map. While most of us will be tracking our cats locally, a Jiobit could enable you to track your cat if it got into a shipping container or moving van and traveled across hundreds of miles (yes, cats have done this).

With the app’s Care Team feature, you can give household members or a pet sitter the ability to use the app to track your cat.

How Big Is the Jiobit, and How Does a Cat Wear One?

The Jiobit requires both a device worn by your cat and a subscription to the GPS tracking service (about $9 a month) that sends your cat’s location information to your smartphone. The package you receive includes:

The Jiobit tracker. The Jiobit tracker is a medallion-style tag you clip onto your cat’s collar. While many of the early GPS pet-tracking devices were fairly cumbersome, the current generations are reasonable in size and weight for adult cats. The Jiobit measures 1.96 x 1.45 x 0.47 inches and weighs just 0.8 ounces.

Three attachment clips. The Jiobit comes with a built-in loop and three types of attachment clips. The strap clip is designed for pet collars and makes it very easy to thread the tracking device (grey side facing out) onto a cat collar securely.

A charger. The small charger can plug into a USB power source or a standard household outlet. You do not need to remove either the attachment clip or the cat’s collar to charge the device. The blinking green light indicates that the device is charging; you get an alert on your phone when it is fully charged.

Jiobit in charger

Mr. Tippy’s Jiobit (and cat collar) charge up.

Tracking Your Cat With the Jiobit App

Once you have downloaded the Jiobit app, the first step is to enable Bluetooth on your phone. Then place your Jiobit into the charger and follow the prompts on your smartphone’s screen. You will set up Home WiFi and create a profile for your cat.

The Help section (at the lower left of the Jiobit app screen) has dozens of excellent articles that will explain just about every aspect of configuring and using your Jiobit.

You will likely want to start by setting up some simple parameters. You define Home as the place where you feel your cat is safe (in our case, it’s our house and yard). Once you’ve entered that information in the app’s settings, you will get an alert on your phone (and, yes, on your Apple Watch if you wear one) whenever your cat leaves the premises.

watch with Jiobit alert

I get an alert on my Apple Watch when Mr. Tippy comes and goes.

There is also a Bluetooth Alert alarm that you can configure to emit an ear-splitting alarm if the device leaves Home. The Bluetooth “Ring Jiobit” function gets the device itself to emit a short, soft chirp to help you locate it (and your cat).

If you study only one of the Jiobit Help articles, make it “Understanding Your Jiobit’s App Status.” The article explains the critical difference between the “With You At Home” status (when your cat’s Jiobit is connected to you via Bluetooth) and “Home” status (when your cat is nearby in the designated Home area, but there is no Bluetooth connection). This is significant—because without Bluetooth, your ability to locate the nearby device using “Ring Jiobit” won’t work.

Real-Life Testing: The Jiobit Meets Mr. Tippy

We had trouble believing that the somewhat nervous Mr. Tippy would be happy wearing a 0.8-ounce device, complete with a strap clip, on his collar. He surprised us. It doesn’t seem to bother him. (Except for the few occasions when someone in our household attached the collar in such a way that the device was upside down. Let’s not go there.)

It’s wonderful to get reminders during the day when Mr. Tippy comes and goes from his Home area.

Jiobit messaging

We were, of course, fascinated to see what the maps would tell us about where Mr. Tippy had been going when he left our yard. What we discovered was that he goes either across the alley to a neighbor’s overgrown yard or three doors down to another neighbor’s large vegetable garden. Every day. Sometimes several times a day.

screenshot of Jiobit timeline

The Jiobit app details Mr. Tippy’s wanderings.

Only twice has the map revealed Mr. Tippy venturing any further. That’s worried us, but at least we knew where he’d gone—if not why.

What Can Go Wrong With a Jiobit for Cats?

Using the Jiobit, including charging it every four days when it gets down to about 20%, has been so easy that six months went by before the inevitable catastrophe happened: Mr. Tippy lost his collar.

Mr. Tippy wears a breakaway collar for safety. The collar came off, and Mr. Tippy walked away from it. We had the cat safe, so the question was where was the collar with the expensive device?

I had set the parameters of “Home” to be large enough that it included adjoining yards. The Jiobit app kept telling us that our cat (well, his device) was Home. Yes, but where?

We crawled around in the neighbors’ shrubbery but couldn’t find the Jiobit.

Unfortunately, the device was just far enough away that we were in the Bluetooth-free “Home” zone rather than the Bluetooth-connected “With You At Home” area. I finally sent an email to Jiobit’s web-based support team (a U.S.-based operation) detailing what I’d tried and asking for help.

Jiobit Customer Service For the Win

Within 24 hours, they sent us a satellite map picture showing the location of Tippy’s Jiobit and collar in a tangle of blackberry bushes in the neighbor’s overgrown yard. We were very pleased with Jiobit’s customer service (and glad we’d kept the device pretty well charged).

satellite map of lost Jiobit

Red pointers show the location of the lost Jiobit.

As it turns out, Mr. Tippy had not gone quite far enough for the GPS to register the device as out of the Home area. I have since re-set the Home boundaries so the app will alert me a bit sooner that “Mr. Tippy has left home.”

We discovered that if your cat has truly lost the device (for instance, if the lost device no longer has enough charge to be tracked), you can buy a replacement Jiobit for your existing tracking subscription. The replacement Jiobit is usually slightly less expensive than purchasing a new one.

The Jiobit Is a Must If You Have an Outdoor Cat

The bottom line: We love the Jiobit. While we’d prefer it if Mr. Tippy were an indoor cat, the Jiobit reduces my anxiety about his whereabouts. We wish we’d had it 10 years ago when Max the Neighborhood Cat was younger and routinely got himself locked in the neighbors’ garages. But that is another story.

The Jiobit GPS tracking device

See the Jiobit on Amazon
See the Jiobit on Chewy

Further Reading

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