Scientists have developed a way to tell if your cat is in pain just by reading their facial expression — and now they need your help with it. Researchers Beatriz Monteiro and Paulo Steagall explain all.
Beatriz Monteiro and Paulo Steagall, along with colleagues from the University of Montreal, have developed a way of recognising if our cats are in pain just by looking at their faces. Here, Beatriz and Paulo explain how this works and ask if you can help develop this incredible tool — it could benefit cats all over the world…
Cats are brilliant at hiding illness or pain. So, if you could look at your cat and recognise they were in pain, would you be interested in doing so? Being able to would allow owners to seek veterinary care and catch health issues sooner, which could mean cats suffer less, treatment could be more successful, and it could cost owners less too.
THE FELINE GRIMACE SCALE
Along with colleagues from the University of Montreal, we have developed what is called the Feline Grimace Scale — a tool developed for the assessment of pain in cats based on changes in facial expressions.
The Scale works by observing a cat for 30 seconds and looking at their facial features: how open the eyes are, how the ears are positioned, how tense the muzzle is, how curved and tense the whiskers are, and how the head is held above or below the shoulders. Each action is assessed and an overall score given to indicate the level of pain the cat is in. You can find out more about the tool by visiting www.felinegrimacescale.com/about
Following development, the tool underwent several steps of scientific validation to ensure that it measures what it is intended to measure (in this case pain), that it is repeatable by different evaluators and over time, and that it can discriminate between different conditions. It was found that it works on cats with different medical and surgical conditions, and that it can be used both by looking at the cat itself or at a picture of the cat.
The Feline Grimace Scale has been found to be a valid, fast, reliable and easy-to-use tool that helps with pain assessment, which could be revolutionary in helping our cats.
To read the full feature, and find out how you can help contribute to the Feline Grimace Scale research, get yourself a copy of the March 2021 issue here: www.pocketmags.com/your-cat-magazine