Take a picture of the cat with the iPhone to use the app to see if the cat is happy
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Cats are notorious for expertly hiding any pain or discomfort they may be feeling, but a new smartphone app called Table could help cat owners figure out if something is bothering their precious cats.
Using artificial intelligence and the Cat Grimace Scale (FGS), Tablely uses a photo of a cat to determine whether or not it looks happy. No disease will be diagnosed, but if Tablely interprets your cat as unhappy, it may mean she needs to see a veterinarian.
Take Kismet as an example. Owned by Linda Hall, co-host of the 19 Cats and Counting podcast. As she recently stated on an episode, she was recently taking photos of all of her cats when Kismet’s result came back as unhappy. Tisch determines Kismet was unhappy a few more times that night, despite purring and seeming to enjoy the pets he got, Hall says. So she sent him to the vet the next morning.
That has proven to be the right step. Kismet, who is positive for FIV, suffered from painful inflammation and was dehydrated. The vet staff got him fluids and medication, and Hall credits Tablely for saving her cat’s life.
“I would never have known,” she says on the podcast.
What is table?
Basically, it’s just another tool that cat owners and veterinarians can use to find out how their cats and patients are doing.
“Cats mostly hide their pain. Our hypothesis is that they are not getting as much medical care as they should because they are hiding their pain, ”Miche Priest, head of the startup sylvester.ai that Tablely developed, told Daily Pfoten.
Using the app is easy enough. You take a photo or a series of photos of your cat and the app then uses the FGS to tell you whether your cat is happy or unhappy. The grimace scale measures the position of the cat’s head, whiskers, ears, eyes and snout.
If your cat continues to register as unhappy after several tries, it is probably time to start troubleshooting or plan a visit to the vet. Priest says the app can be especially helpful for cats recovering from surgery or older cats who may develop arthritis or toothache – things that may one day just pop up.
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“If you keep getting ‘not happy’, we’ve found that this is a sign that there is a problem,” she adds.
Sylvester released the app in June after testing a prototype. Cat owners have used it to monitor allergies and see if cats are prey to ear mites or worms.
The app is available in the Apple App Store or on the sylvester.ai website for people who do not use an iPhone. There are versions for everyday cat owners as well as for veterinarians and other animal health professionals.
“This is not a new tool,” says Priest. “This is something that actually helps cats and improves their quality of life.”
Limitations of tables
The first is the obvious: any health problem your cat has must be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Table can’t do this for you.
Second, the app has so far only worked on cats with typical, house short hair-like faces. For example, cat breeds with unique ears (Persians, tartan folds, and sphinxes) are not registered in the app, says Priest.
You should also avoid taking the picture when your cat is meowing towards you, which can skew the measurements. The same goes for taking photos shortly after your cat wakes up because he’s getting grumpy, says Priest. (Like all of us.)
Otherwise, give it a try and remember that it is a new technology. You can always speak to your vet to see what they think of this.