How Japanese Pet Owners are Using AI to Provide Healthcare for Sick Cats

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In Japan, where cats are revered as symbols of luck, pet owners are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to care for their beloved cats.

The country’s aging population and low birth rate have made pets integral members of many households, and owners are willing to invest significantly in their pets’ well-being.

Japan’s pet owners are keen on such technology due to the significant roles pets play in their lives. The Japan Pet Food Association estimated that there were almost 16 million pet cats and dogs in the country last year, surpassing the number of children under 15.

Among the newest petcare solutions emerging is an AI-driven app called CatsMe!, designed to monitor the health of cats by detecting pain through facial expressions.

How Japanese Pet Owners are Using AI to Provide Healthcare for Sick Cats
(Photo : Michael Sum on Unsplash)
Japanese pet owners are embracing AI technology to monitor their cats’ health. CatsMe!, an AI-driven app, uses facial recognition to detect pain in cats with over 95% accuracy.

The Technology Behind AI-Powered Cat Health App CatsMe!

CatsMe! was developed by tech startup Carelogy in collaboration with researchers from Nihon University.

Reuters reports that the app’s AI was trained on 6,000 pictures of cats, classified by specialists according to their expressions of pain. This training allows the app to detect pain with an accuracy of more than 95%, a figure expected to improve as more data is collected .

Using the app is straightforward: pet owners upload a photo of their cat, and the AI analyzes the facial expression, categorizing the likelihood of pain into three levels-none, slight, or severe.

This information can help owners decide whether a visit to the veterinarian is necessary. Nihon University professor Kazuya Edamura notes, “Our statistics show that more than 70% of elderly cats have arthritis or pain, but only 2% of them actually go to a hospital” .

Pet owners like Mayumi Kitakata monitors their pets’ health daily, using CatsMe! to read his facial expressions and track his activities. Speaking with Reuters, she reflects on her past pets, such as Soran, who died from cancer at eight years old.

“If I had noticed it, maybe we could have done cancer treatment earlier or something, and it would have helped, but even the vet didn’t know,” she recalls. The app provides her and other pet owners with peace of mind, allowing her to detect issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Read Also: Japanese City on High Alert as Cat Escapes After Falling into Vat of Toxic Chemicals

App Features and Recent Updates

CatsMe! has grown rapidly since its launch, attracting over 230,000 users in more than 50 countries . The app underwent a major update in January 2024, transitioning to a paid service while making all features previously exclusive to premium members available to all users.

These features include the ability to record multiple cats, simultaneous AI evaluation of multiple photos, and personalized advice based on the past two weeks of data .

Despite the switch to a paid model, the app offers a two-week free trial to ensure that as many cat owners as possible can experience its benefits . The comprehensive features and user-friendly design make CatsMe! an essential tool for pet owners looking to monitor their cats’ health effectively.

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Tech Times Writer John Lopez

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