When it comes to figuring out how your cat is feeling, certain observable behaviors can help—kneading, eating grass, swatting at things, puking, and so on. But their actual facial expressions aren’t always easy to decipher on their own.
So how do you know when your cat is ailing or unhappy? One innovative new way is by using the Feline Grimace Scale (FGS), developed by veterinary experts at Canada’s Université de Montréal.
“Depending on the cats’ muzzle, eyes, ears, whiskers, or head position, you can determine whether or not a cat is in pain,” FGS co-creator Paulo Steagall told WIRED. Basically, you can analyze your cat’s individual features to determine their mood.
Since mastering the FGS yourself takes no small amount of time and effort, Sylvester.ai—an artificial intelligence tech company that focuses on animal health—created an app called Tably that’ll do the hard part for you. As Nerdist reports, all you have to do is use your smartphone camera to scan your cat’s face, and Tably will tell you how your cat is feeling.
The app is especially handy for new owners who haven’t yet established the unofficial sixth sense that longtime cat parents sometimes have. “As a first-time cat owner, I had no idea if I’m taking proper care of my cat or not,” one Tably user wrote in a testimonial. “After a week of usage, the app kept suggesting he was unhappy so I decided to take him to the vet and he was diagnosed with ear mites. The vet told me that most people don’t even realize that their cats have ear mites and the cats usually suffer a lot.”
It’s also helpful for people whose cats have chronic conditions, have recently undergone medical procedures, or are dealing with some other known cause of discomfort. You can monitor fluctuations in pain and determine when a trip to the vet might be necessary. Your cat, meanwhile, will probably just think you’re taking even more pictures of them.
Tably is still in its beta phase—if you’re interested in testing it out for yourself, you can do so here.