Does your feline friend suffer? Ask for a new application developed by Montrealers

The app will allow owners and veterinarians to help cats relieve themselves when they are in pain.

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A new app developed by Montreal researchers will help cat owners find out if their pet is in pain.

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The researchers explain that it’s hard to tell if a cat is in pain because they don’t communicate their discomfort, unlike dogs who cry or whine.

“Pain is hard to detect in cats because they don’t show their discomfort through behavior, so it’s even hard for vets to detect,” said Paulo Steagall, one of the app’s creators.

The hope is that the app will help owners care for their cats sooner and reduce the time they suffer.

Steagall, who teaches anesthesiology at the University of Montreal veterinary school, said there are telltale signs of a cat in pain. The app relies on something called the Feline Grimace Scale, developed at the U of M. It instructs the owner to observe the cat from a distance when it’s awake and calm, and note five criteria: ear position, eye opening, muzzle tension, mustache. position and position of the head. Depending on the answers provided, the application may offer to contact a veterinarian.

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The new tool will also be useful for veterinarians to help them understand the pain a cat is experiencing and decide if pain medication is needed.

The app also allows the owner to take a picture of their pet and send it to their veterinarian. The photo can also be sent to the University of Montreal research group to help develop feline welfare, Steagall said.

The Feline Grimace Scale application was developed with funding from the Zoetis company and with the collaboration of the Quebec company Vertisoft. It is available for free on Android and iOS platforms, in French, English and Spanish.

Jennifer C. Burleigh