Imagine a litter box that monitors your cat’s health and reports issues directly to your cell phone. A new smart litter box in Japan will do just that.
The Smart Litter Box Technology
Cats are prone to many health issues as they age. Many common feline health conditions can be detected through evaluation of changes in weight and urination. Unfortunately, cat owners often miss subtle changes in weight and the amount of urine their cat produces over time. Cats often do not get regular veterinary examinations that could detect problems in the early stages.
A new smart litter box from the Sharp company in Japan will help pet parents monitor their cat’s health. This box includes detectors and software that will monitor a cat’s weight, the amount she urinates, and the length of time she spends in the litter box. When the system detects an abnormal change, it notifies the owner’s smart phone directly.
Multiple cats? No problem. The box comes with optional sensors that will detect individual cats in a multi-at household.
Why are we excited about this technology?
- Cat obesity: Weight gain in cats, just like in people, usually occurs slowly. Pet parents are notoriously unreliable at recognizing weight gain and obesity in their pets. This technology will provide consistent and objective evaluation of a cat’s weight over time. An owner who receives an alert is more likely to take action and have their cat examined by a veterinarian. If the company has thought this through, the box will monitor improvement over time, too. Owners could use this to help evaluate the effectiveness of a diet plan for their cat.
- Diabetes: Changes in weight and increased urine volume are indicators of diabetes mellitus. Cat parents may not recognize increased amounts of urine in the box, unless they are paying careful attention to the litter balls. A tool to alert owners when their cat is urinating more frequently and with a higher volume could revolutionize the early diagnosis of diabetes in cats. If diabetes is diagnosed early, cats have a higher chance to go into remission when treated.
- Kidney disease: Kidney disease is common in aging cats. Increases or decreases in frequency or volume of urination may signal the onset of kidney problems. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to managing the progression of kidney disease.
- Urinary blockages: Spending a lot of time in the litter box can signal that a cat is having difficulty urinating. Bladder infections or blockages due to bladder stones can cause this problem. Cat parents can easily miss this sign, unless they are carefully monitoring the litter box.
- Hyperthyroidism: This common problem in middle-aged to older cats can cause them to drink and urinate more.
These are just the most common problems that this smart litter box could help detect. Alerts to changes in urination and weight will encourage owners to take their cat to a veterinarian for diagnosis.
How much does the box cost?
The box is rolling out at a cost of about $224 US. The monitoring app will cost an additional $3.00 US each month.
Will the box be available in the US?
Before you get excited, this smart litter box will be rolled out only in Japan at first. Hopefully the Sharp company will bring this technology to the US market in the near future. We hope this box will eventually be used with smart litter to detect things like sugar in the urine (glucosuria), an indicator of diabetes.