An electronic cat litter box that can collect health information of pets is to be put on the market by its French designer.
Philippe Daurenjou, who spent 35 years in a company producing veterinary laboratory equipment including urine and blood analysers, is convinced there is a market for his product.
The product is called Caremitou, a play on words when pronounced the French way on Kermit the frog from the Muppets and mitou, an affectionate name for cats.
He said: “The idea came from discussions with vets and contact with student vets, when we looked at how we could improve the health of animals using technology.”
Mr Daurenjou said only 40% of the 14million pet cats in France see a vet once a year, or at all. When cats are at the vet, they are often stressed and it is difficult to see beyond that stress to discover if there is an illness.
“Heart rates of cats are very much higher at the vets than at home, for example.”
The cat litter box records how many times the cat visits it a day, how long it spends in it, its temperature, pulse, and weight.
It can collect urine or faeces samples.
Information is sent to the owner’s smartphone via Bluetooth technology and can also be sent to the vet.
Target buyers are young pet owners who live in apartments in cities.
If a cat goes out into the garden instead of using a litter tray, it would be difficult to ensure continuity of data.
Mr Daurenjou has signed up with sub-contractors in the Occitanie region to make the product, and it will be on sale before the winter.
The connected box will be sold through animal supply stores for €249 in a basic version, and through vets for €349. Vet versions will include a subscription to have urine analysed. For a subscription of €9.90 a month, vets will give alerts if anything in the data concerns them, such as a sudden loss of weight or an increased number of visits, which can be a sign of an infection or kidney stones.
Mr Daurenjou’s company, NovandSat, based in Montpellier, has four people, all cat owners, on board, and the plan is to increase the number of sales reps when the product is launched.
Mr Daurenjou said he saw the product as a logical use of available technology.
He said: “Humans, if they want to, can follow their health signs through items like electronic and connected bathroom scales, and smart watches which take your pulse.
“I just saw how they can use similar technology for their pets’ health – after all, a cat cannot talk and tell you what is wrong.”