Skip to main content

Is your cat happy? This app can read your cat’s moods

While popular media depicts cats as aloof and elegant, most people who’ve ever owned a cat claim otherwise. Each cat’s personality is vastly different from the last. Some of our feline friends do fit the stereotype, but others are outrageously affectionate, playful, and often downright goofy. One cliché that holds up under scrutiny is the notion that cats are often difficult to read, hiding their discomfort from their pet parents with sometimes devastating consequences.

Longtime cat companions grow skilled at reading their cat’s mood, but has your vet ever asked, “Is your cat happy?” What if there were an app that could answer your question using a valid scientific assessment method? The folks from Sylvester.AI say they’ve created the solution to many pet parents’ problem. What is the Tably app, and why do you need it? Let’s find out.

A woman in a golden yellow hoodie holds a black cat while using her smartphone.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The old way of detecting illness in cats

Before the advent of modern technology, figuring out your cat’s mood took a bit of trial and error. Veterinarians often find subtle clues that your cat is unwell before her condition deteriorates, which makes knowing when to take your fur baby to the vet all the more important. Here’s what you’re used to looking for while gauging your cat’s general well-being:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Changes in mood
  • Urinating or defecating outside the litter box
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Lethargy
  • Bad breath
  • Limping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Refusing to drink water
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Visible injuries
  • Uninterested in grooming
  • Overgrooming
  • Hair loss
  • Skin irritation
  • Hiding

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet immediately. However, the problem is that cats aren’t always symptomatic until something is seriously wrong. Fortunately, Tably is here to change that.

Why you need Tably

If you’re a first-time cat owner, identifying your cat’s mood can be especially daunting. While some cats do exhibit signs to let you know something is wrong, many cats mask their symptoms until their behavioral or health issues are difficult — if not impossible — to treat. Because cats are notorious for hiding their illnesses, using a reliable pain assessment tool can help make sure your cat receives prompt medical care when she needs it. While some apps can identify health conditions in humans, there was nothing available to help pet owners and professionals reliably detect the undetectable — until Sylvester.AI developed Tably.

Two tabby cats stare into the unlit screen of a smartphone on a white table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How Tably works

Currently available in beta mode, Tably is an app that uses artificial intelligence — also known as AI — to determine your cat’s mood. Pet parents and veterinarians alike can benefit from Tably’s advanced AI.  Tably uses the Feline Grimace Scale, which picks up on facial clues that are undetectable to the human eye. The Feline Grimace Scale was developed by the Université de Montréal using video footage of cats in various states of health, ranging from happy, healthy cats to fur babies suffering from physical or emotional distress. The scale uses five different facial markers, known as Action Units: ear position, head position, muzzle tension, orbital tightening, and whisker position. Action Units receive a ranking from 0 to 2, with 0 standing for overall wellness, 1 meaning your cat is in moderate discomfort, and 2 signifying that your cat is in acute distress and requires immediate medical attention.

This is where Tably comes in. Using Tably is as simple as taking a photo of your cat. The app then uses AI Remote Patient Monitoring based on the Feline Grimace Scale to assess your feline friend’s general well-being. If the app detects body language indicating that your cat is in pain, you’ll be notified via Action Units whether your fur baby requires medical attention. To illustrate, a cat with wide eyes, a relaxed muzzle, and perked ears will most likely score zeroes across the board. On the other hand, a cat with flattened ears, a tensed muzzle, and twitching whiskers is distressed and needs prompt veterinary care. To ensure the most accurate reading possible, photograph your cat in a brightly lit space, taking care to get her face fully in the frame. According to Tably’s senior product manager, Michelle Priest, “With a high-quality and full-face front image of the cat, the accuracy is 97%.”

A man in a blue sweater holds a gray Maine Coon cat while using his smartphone.
SvetikovaV/Shutterstock

If your cat is injured or ill, she requires immediate medical attention. Beginning treatment promptly can make all the difference in your fur baby’s prognosis. With Tably’s arrival on the scene, it may be possible to catch serious health issues before your cat shows severe symptoms.

Editors' Recommendations

Mary Johnson
Contributor
Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
8 essential things you should be doing now to promote cat health
Keep track of these things to give your kitty a long life
A close-up of a peach and gray calico cat with amber eyes.

We believe sharing your home with any animal enriches life and makes you a happier, healthier person — and research agrees. But did you know that cats might actually be better for your health than dogs? According to a University of Minnesota study, owning a cat lowers your risk of suffering from a heart attack by an impressive 30 percent, likely more than that conferred by owning a dog, though results of research vary. (Don't worry, dog lovers. Research shows you're still happier and healthier than people who don't own any pets.) 

Considering how much your cat improves your health, it's only fair for you to keep a close eye on her well-being. We're here to help, so we've compiled a list of the most common forms of kitty illness and what you can do to promote cat health. 
#1: Monitor your cat's weight and activity level

Read more
Do cats fart? 6 causes and when to call a vet
Causes of cat flatulence and when to worry about
An orange cat's butt behind a white garden fence

It's no secret that dogs fart -- sometimes just as much as humans do. Some pooches aren't afraid to let 'em rip, but cats tend to be more shy when it comes to their bodily functions. That's why some cat owners don't even know if felines fart! Most kitties do their business in the privacy of their litter box, so it makes sense why kitty toots are so elusive.
If you've ever wondered, "Do cats fart?" but were too shy to ask for yourself -- consider your search over. We'll discuss what you need to know about feline flatulence and its causes, including when you need to contact your vet. Soon, you'll know more than you ever anticipated.

Do cats fart?

Read more
Why do cats scream when mating? Here’s what to know
Don't panic — this is a standard part of the reproduction ritual
A white cat walks on a series of logs outside

You might get a bit traumatized when you first encounter two cats mating — be prepared for it to turn you off breeding kittens entirely. In fact, we generally recommend that you spay or neuter your animal when you don't want any babies in the immediate future. Otherwise, your pet will go into heat multiple times per year and may exhibit other unusual behaviors during this time. At the top of this list is the screaming that occurs before, during, and after feline copulation. But why do cats scream when mating? We break the whole process down for you.
What does the reproductive cycle look like in kitties?

There are four major pieces of this that start with heat and end up with a pregnancy, we hope, and this cycle is a bit different from in humans. Unlike us, kitty cats have a mating season, which can vary for a house pet, but it usually coincides with spring and summer where you live. If left to her own devices, your female cat, called a queen, will go through this full cycle many times until she gets pregnant during the season.
Going into heat
It all starts when your fur baby goes into heat. Even with no man or tomcat around, she'll likely start exhibiting certain behaviors like restlessness, calling, rolling, and something called lordosis (when she sticks her butt in the air). Even if she looks unhappy, she's really just feeling the urge.
Finding a mate
It's time for your pet to find a suitable partner, which she does with a loud scream intended to attract fertile males (boy cats often do the same to get a female's attention). Oftentimes, man cats fight for their woman's affection, though they don't really need to, as she's happy to have a go with lots of different partners.
Getting it on
Cats mate quickly and functionally. The male first grabs the female by the scruff to keep her in place and then inserts his penis, which is covered in small barbs (we'll come back to this). Both might scream during the act, and it likely feels pretty uncomfortable, at least for the girl on the receiving end. Sometimes, this ends with the queen getting her comeuppance and attacking the tomcat. Afterward, she rests for a while and then starts again.
Stimulating an ovulation
You read that right: Cats don't ovulate unless they have sex, and rarely does one shot get the job done. That's why lady cats will often begin to repeat this process soon after they finish with one tom. It also means your sweet girl can get pregnant from multiple cats at once and have a litter with mixed parentage.
Why do cats scream while mating?

Read more