I have two cats and want to track in which of the 6 rooms of my flat (about 96 square meters) they currently are. Later I would like to trigger an alarm if they get into a "forbidden" room. The cats are currently not wearing a collar, but I tried it once and it could work, even though they are not very thrilled about it.

I would prefer an affordable solution and if possible no equipment on the cat itself - especially nothing that need to be charged.

I first thought of RFID, placing a passive tag on each cat and a sensor on each door. But I don't have any experience with it and don't know if it is even possible to detect if the cat is sitting in front of the door or actually crossing it - and how the direction (entering of leaving the room) could be tracked as well.

Another idea was to use small Wifi modules like the ESP8266, track the signal strength of two independent WiFi networks and calculate the position, but I don't think it's accurate enough, and there are many APs around here.

Do you have any idea what might work?


After some misunderstandings I'd like to clarify some parts

  • I'm not looking (necessarily) for a cat-specific solution. It doesn't need to reasonable as well (neither it has to be the next big thing). I want this, even though everyone may think it's stupid.
  • Yes, cat's can somehow be trained. That's not the point. I want to look on some display and check where they are. That's all.
  • It should be (if possible) const- and energy efficient. (i.e. no autonomes patroling drones ;))
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related \$\endgroup\$ – Vladimir Cravero Jul 10 '16 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Shake the treats box. They will locate themselves. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Drummond Jul 10 '16 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Get a load of those key tracker things - the ones where if you lose your keys you press a button and the tag beeps. Attach one to each cat and then you can follow the beeping. \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Carpenter Jul 10 '16 at 14:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic here and belongs on the Pets Stack Exchange. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Karas Jul 10 '16 at 14:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ The cats are both in a box and not in a box. You won't know until you check the box. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jul 10 '16 at 14:39

First, if you want to keep cats out of a room, you have to physically bar them from the room. "Explaining" the forbiddeness to a cat doesn't work, LOL. Keep the door closed or whatever, and then you don't need to know where the cats are anymore.

If you really want to track cats, a network of passive IR sensors around the house is probably the best way that meets your specs. You may want some at different levels to distinguish between a human and a cat, in places the cat can't cross by walking higher along furniture and the like. The tricky part here is the software to make sense of all the individual "I see something warm moving here" signals to actual tracking of the warm things.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ No. Cats can learn if something is forbidden, if you are persistent enough or, more importantly, if the effects of not conforming are always consistent. A suggestion for a solution would not belong to electronics, but if you installed a large very clear panel of glass (which the cat cannot see) and let the cat bump into it several times, it wold learn after some time that there is an invisible force field and will not try again. There are plenty of videos on youtube where a cat or dog refuses to go through a glass door after the glass was removed, even if the humans show it is possible. \$\endgroup\$ – vsz Jul 10 '16 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ good idea, but how could an IR array distinguish between two different cats? \$\endgroup\$ – muffel Jul 10 '16 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vsz: indeed cats can learn. They can then also learn that the glass is gone. Or that when the owner is away they can enter the room, even if trained not to. You can simply not teach cats that something is forbidden, they are stubborn, they will try it again and again and again... \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Jul 10 '16 at 20:02

I think I would be inclined to set up some cheap USB video cameras, and use OpenCV to develop a motion-tracking system. Assuming that the only things that move around regularly in the apartment are you and the cats, it should be a lot simpler than the general problem.

The system would display the location(s) that showed the most recent motion, even if the cat curls up and goes to sleep for a while, or disappears into a hidden nook or cranny.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes! But forget OpenCV. Just publish the cameras' IPs (maybe here) and crowdsource the actual detection. And watch the software industry's productivity fall another notch... I hereby trademark the term "Catpcha" which you may use for a (suitably modest) fee. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Drummond Jul 10 '16 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, could work but placing capturing video cameras in the house? My wife would kill me.. \$\endgroup\$ – muffel Jul 10 '16 at 19:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Use simple motion detectors? \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Jul 10 '16 at 20:38

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