Japan: an application to identify pain in cats

Japan: an application to identify pain in cats

A Japanese application detecting pain in cats could, according to its designers, become a valuable aid for feline owners and veterinarians alike, especially in Japan where the market around cats is worth billions of euros.

Named CPD for “Cat Pain Detector”, this free application uses artificial intelligence (AI) to assess the pain level of cats from their facial expressions. Launched in May, it is now used by around 43,000 people mainly in Japan, but also “in Europe and South America”, said AFP Go Sakioka, the manager of the Tokyo-based company Carelogy.

Understanding Cats

The tool, similar to other existing applications around the world, was developed by the company in collaboration with the Faculty of Biological Resource Sciences at Nihon University. Its developers first collected some 6,000 photos of cats to study the position of the ears, muzzle, whiskers and eyelids to determine the variable characteristics in these felines. This analysis is based on a scale of cat “grimaces” developed by the University of Montreal, from facial expressions of suffering and healthy cats. The second phase consisted of building a model using artificial intelligence from this data.

“Today, CPD has an accuracy of over 90%”assures Mr. Sakioka, adding that his company hopes to go further thanks to some “600.000 photos” taken by users of the application, created to help owners better understand the behavioral changes in their cat.

Need improvement

According to the Japan Pet Food Association, 60% of cat owners only see a veterinarian at best once a year. “We want to allow them to judge more easily at home whether or not they need to consult”, he continues.

If CPD has already been used experimentally by veterinarians, “we still need to refine the precision of AI so that its use becomes widespread in view of the growing craze for cats”, he acknowledges. According to Katsuhiro Miyamoto, professor emeritus at Kansai University, the Japanese market related to felines weighed in 2020 the equivalent of 13.2 billion euros.

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, particularly in many “cat islands” or in the very popular “neko-café “, cat bars.