We don’t typical cover health tech for pets, but the potential cross-over for humans sometimes makes a story relevant for our audience. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the leading cause of death for cats over five years of age, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. Fortunately, early diagnosis of CKD can slow the progression of the disease and improve survival rates. Antech Diagnostics and Imaging, a reference laboratory division of Mars PetCare, developed RenalTech, a machine-learning artificial intelligence algorithm that can predict CKD in cats up to two years before onset.

Antech developed RenalTech using medical data from more than 150,000 cats and 750,000 veterinary hospital visits over a 20-year period. The algorithm analyzes feline age and six health measurements: creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, white blood cell count, urine specific gravity, urine protein, and urine pH. In a study published in The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Predicting Early Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats Using Routine Clinical Laboratory Tests and Machine Learning, researchers showed that Renaltech could predict CKD two years before diagnosis with 95% accuracy using just four of the six measures.

RenalTech’s CKD prediction model for cats may inspire or contribute to the development of similar applications for humans at risk for other diseases or health conditions. It’s one more example how Big Data analytics are transforming health care, giving us early warning about disease long before the first symptom appears.