There's an AI app that detects pain in cats: it's big in Japan

There's an AI app that detects pain in cats: it's big in Japan
In Japan, there's an app that's getting more and more popular: it's called CatsMe! and, as the name suggests, it has to do with cats.

That's no wonder, as in Japan, a country with an aging population and a birth rate that has nosedived, there are many pets. According to the Japan Pet Food Association, there were almost 16 million pet cats and dogs in the country in 2023, more than the number of children under 15.

The latest Reuters report tells the story of Mayumi Kitakata and Chi, her housemate who loves treats, enjoys catnip a bit too much, and is 14 years old – an advanced age for a cat.

Kitakata, 57, has had several pet cats over the years, and to extend Chi's life, she has turned to artificial intelligence.

In March, Kitakata started using the CatsMe! app which utilizes AI in order to detect when a cat is in pain, reducing the need for stressful vet visits.

"He is at an age where more and more diseases are going to appear," said Kitakata, who is single and has a grown son. "So being able to consult the vet but still reduce the number of visits to the hospital is very important for him and for me".

Nihon University professor Kazuya Edamura noted that while vets can often tell if an animal is in pain, it is more challenging for pet owners. According to Edamura, over 70% of elderly cats have arthritis or pain, yet only 2% visit a hospital. So, the app helps owners determine if their cat's situation is normal.

Carelogy, a tech startup, and researchers at Nihon University developed CatsMe! by training it on 6,000 cat images. The app, used by over 230,000 customers since its launch last year, is said to deliver over 95% accuracy, expected to improve with more data.

Originally, the cat pain detection AI was launched as "CPD (Cat Pain Detector)" in 2023, but was rebranded as "CatsMe!" in January 2024.

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Initially free, the app gained over 230,000 users in more than 50 countries within a year.

Now, CatsMe! has transitioned to a basic paid service, offering features previously exclusive to premium members, such as "multiple cat record management", "simultaneous AI evaluation of multiple photos", and "cat albums", to all users.

The key feature of this update is the new "AI Insight Function", which analyzes AI judgment results, records, and notes from the past two weeks to provide personalized advice.

By tapping the "Perform AI analysis for the last two weeks" button on the calendar on your [My Page], users can easily review trends from the past two weeks.

This "AI Insights Feature" summarizes the past two weeks' data, useful for sharing with vets or simply reviewing with the AI.

CatsMe! offers a two-week free trial to allow cat owners to experience the service.

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