How's your cat? In Japan, an app identifies the pain of our felines

Steph Deschamps / July 1, 2023


Named CPD for "Cat Pain Detector", this free application uses artificial intelligence (AI) to assess cats' pain levels based on their facial expressions.
Launched in May, it is now used by some 43,000 people, mainly in Japan, but also "in Europe and South America", Go Sakioka, head of Tokyo-based Carelogy, told AFP.
The tool, similar to other applications around the world, was developed by the company in collaboration with Nihon University's Faculty of Biological Resource Sciences. Its developers first collected some 6,000 photos of cats to study the position of their ears, muzzle, whiskers and eyelids, in order to determine variable characteristics in these felines.
This analysis is based on a scale of cat "grimaces" developed by the University of Montreal, based on facial expressions of healthy and sick cats.
The second phase involved using artificial intelligence to build a model from this data. "Today, CPD has an accuracy of over 90%", assures Mr. Sakioka, adding that his company hoped to go even further thanks to some "600,000 photos" taken by users of the app, created to help owners better apprehend their cat's behavioral changes. 
According to the Japan Pet Food Association, 60% of cat owners consult a vet at best once a year. "We want to make it easier for them to judge at home whether or not they need to see a vet," he continues.
Although CPD has already been used experimentally by veterinarians, "we still need to refine the AI's precision before its use becomes widespread, given the growing craze for cats", he admits.
According to Katsuhiro Miyamoto, Professor Emeritus at Kansai University, the Japanese cat market will be worth the equivalent of 13.2 billion euros in 2020. 
This amount corresponds to the sum of food and veterinary expenses throughout the country, sales of objects and accessories, as well as profits generated by tourism, notably on numerous "cat islands" or in the very popular "neko-café", cat bars.


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