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.

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
Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
8 essential tips for disciplining cats
8 Easy and effective tips for training your cat
Two kittens on wooden shelves

Cats may be one of the most popular pets worldwide, but even they have reputations (mostly with non-cat people). Felines are known for indifference, sass, and even attitude. Cartoons, comics, and movies portray them as impossible to reason with, but if you ask a cat owner, they'll assure you cat discipline exists. Here's the catch: you need to know how to discipline your cat -- safely and properly -- for that training to stick. With these seven simple tips and tricks, though, you'll be on your way to perfect feline behavior.

Rule out medical concerns as a cause for misbehavior
Surprising as it sounds, the source of a lot of cat misbehavior has roots in medical conditions. Cats may stop using the litter box, demonstrate new aggression, or start hiding in unexpected places -- all from changes inside their body. So, before you start wondering how to punish your cat, make an appointment with your veterinarian. You may find a medical cause for the behavior. If not, you'll get peace of mind and can move on to further tips on cat discipline.

Read more
Why do cats throw up? (Plus, the one thing you should always do)
Don't ignore your cat when they do this
an orange and white cat lounging on wood plank

When you signed on to cat parenthood, you likely knew you'd have to deal with waste management, like cleaning litter boxes (or scooping poop if your kitty is an outdoor one). Feeding and providing a cat with plenty of water are also expected basics of having a cat. However, cats are full of surprises, from wake-up calls for pets (aren't felines anti-social?) to a Bah-humbug relationship with holiday trees.

An unwelcome surprise of kitty parenting? Cleaning up vomit. To be frank, it's gross. However, seeing that your cat threw up is likely also concerning to you. When people throw up, they're often sick — can the same be said for cats? If you're wondering, "Why is my cat throwing up?" your first call should be to a vet. Here's why.

Read more
Cats sleep with their eyes open — it’s creepy, but here’s why they do it
Cats do all sorts of weird things, including sleeping with their eyes open. Here is why.
A one-eyed cat sleeps with the other open

Cats do weird things sometimes, and we love them for it! What would we watch on TikTok otherwise? But their strange behavior can also cause us cat owners some concern. If you’ve ever seen your cat sleeping with her eyes open, you know exactly what we mean. Not only does this look frightening, but it also might spur some crucial questions in your mind. Why do cats sleep with their eyes open? Is it a medical problem? Should I be worried? Keep reading to find out.

Can cats sleep with their eyes open?
They can. If you’re reading this article, you have probably already observed your cat sleeping through the day with her eyes open. Not all cats do it, and cats that can don’t usually do it all the time. The first time you notice your cat sleeping with her eyes open, it can be quite jarring. It looks a little spooky, and you may start to worry that something is wrong with her.

Read more