Japan’s ageing cats feeling paw-sitive effects of AI healthcare

Japan’s cats are living longer, with the average lifespan reaching a record 15.79 years in 2023.


 June 4, 2024

As the use of artificial intelligence (AI) continues to benefit the health sector, cats are also feeling its paw-sitive effects.

Some Tokyo-based startups are looking to keep the country’s cats in the pink of health, tapping AI to do so, reported Nikkei Asia.

Rabo, a company that develops technology for pet owners, offers a smart collar for owners to track what their cats are up to. The Catlog collar tracks inputs such as a cat’s routine, appetite, behaviour and provides a health analysis using AI. This allows owners to be alerted of potential issues.

A sleep tracking feature will also be rolled out in June, where AI will be used to compare a cat’s data against medical histories of 30,000 other felines.

CEO Yukiko Iyo told Nikkei Asia that Rabo aims to help cats stay with their owners for as long as possible, even as Japan’s cats – much like its human population – continue to grow older.

A guideline published by Japan’s Ministry of Environment showed that the country’s cats are living longer, with the average lifespan reaching a record 15.79 years in 2023 – roughly equivalent to the human age of 79.

However, since cats normally hide their discomfort and mask any health issues, nipping health problems in the bud can be challenging.

Tech firm Carelogy has also developed an app that can tell owners when their cats are in pain. This is done by teaching AI how to identify five signs of discomfort in cats, such as ears that are pulled apart or tense muzzles.

It plans to add a feature – also powered by AI – that can track and compile health indicators such as signs of pain and water intake, which can then be reviewed by vets during a visit.

A similar app called Tably, developed by animal health technology company, Sylvester.ai in Calgary, Alberta (Canada), was released in 2021.

The app uses the phone’s camera to tell whether a feline is feeling pain, based on a so-called “feline grimace scale”, detecting distress through a cat’s ear and head position, eye-narrowing, muzzle tension, and how whiskers change.

A survey by the Japan Pet Food Association in 2023 showed that about 60 per cent of cat owners had taken their pets to the vet in the past year just once, or not at all.

There were about 9.06 million pet cats in Japan in 2023, with a representative from the Japan Pet Food Association noting that demand for pets grew during the Covid-19 pandemic. More opted for cats, which are seen to take less work, than dogs.

Source : https://asianews.network/japans-ageing-cats-feeling-paw-sitive-effects-of-ai-healthcare/

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