Mayumi Kitakata, a 57-year-old from central Tokyo, is ensuring the health of her 14-year-old cat, Chi, by using an AI app called CatsMe!. Developed by Carelogy and Nihon University, CatsMe! detects signs of pain in cats, reducing stressful vet visits. Kitakata values how the app monitors Chi’s health effectively. This innovation is crucial in Japan, where pets are integral to families amid an aging population and declining birth rate. Last year, Japan had nearly 16 million pets, exceeding children under 15, reflecting a growing trend among owners using advanced tools for pet health management.

CatsMe! has gained substantial traction since its launch, with over 230,000 users. It boasts an impressive accuracy rate of over 95%, a figure expected to improve as the AI continues to learn from a growing database of feline images. Nihon University professor Kazuya Edamura noted that while veterinarians can often discern an animal’s discomfort, it is more challenging for pet owners. Edamura highlighted that more than 70% of elderly cats suffer from conditions like arthritis, yet only a small fraction receive proper medical attention. The app serves as a preliminary assessment tool, alerting owners to potential health issues. Kitakata, who meticulously monitors Chi’s daily activities, including using the app to analyze his facial expressions, hopes that this technology will prevent situations similar to what happened with her previous cat, Soran, who succumbed to cancer at a young age. Kitakata expressed deep regret over not catching Soran’s illness earlier, despite regular veterinary visits. The emotional impact of losing Soran drives her commitment to using AI to enhance Chi’s quality of life, demonstrating a poignant blend of technology and affection in modern pet care.