Cats can be complicated creatures. But there are hints of their happiness written all over their furry faces.
“There are a lot of pain scales out there that look at facial features,” said Dr. Liz Ruelle at the Wild Rose Cat Clinic said. “The shape of the whiskers, how are those ears set? That sparkle in the eyes.”
Those facial expressions – or grimace scales as they are called – for species like cats are highly correlated with pain.
Sylvester.ai works with Ruelle, a cat specialist from Calgary, to help diagnose your feline friend’s mood and well-being.
The Table app uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to determine if your cat is having a good day.
“We saw in that first batch of data that we were 96 percent in the AI algorithm for the actual labeled datasets,” said app developer Susan Groeneveld.
Meet Flossie: At nearly 27, this is the world’s oldest living cat
The hope is that pet owners can spot trends, catch problems and intervene earlier.
“We see people using it for the end of life,” said Groeneveld. “When is it time to say goodbye? How much pain is your cat in?”
“Sometimes we don’t pick up on those subtle day-to-day changes until, ‘Oh my god, now we’re in a lot more pain,'” Ruelle added.
COVID-19 is contributing to the shortage of vets across Canada, says NB vet
While the app is still learning to read kittens and some unusual breeds (think the quintessential “grumpy cat” species), as more photos are uploaded to the app, the AI should be able to learn those subtleties as well.
About 300,000 photos have already been uploaded to the Tably app, which not only detects chronic pain, but also familiar frustrations, such as hunger and dehydration.
“I think hanger is real. It’s real in our children, why can’t it also be real in our cats?” said Ruelle.
It’s technology vets and app developers agree that it could be extended to other animals – even humans – in the future.
“We are only (sorry to do this) ‘scratching the surface’,” laughed Groeneveld. “We’re just getting started.”
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.