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Gaining Traction for Cat Care with

Sylvester Case Study - Tably Feature Image


While almost 80% of pet dogs in Canada and the US see their vet at least once a year, only about half of pet cats do.

This is partly because of the widespread belief that cats are “low maintenance” pets that require less care than dogs. It’s also because cats tend to hide when they’re sick or in pain, so even well-meaning cat owners won’t know if there’s a problem.

Susan Groeneveld, founder of, is on a mission to change that. A longtime veterinary industry partner and cat care advocate, she partnered with Calgary, Alberta-based AltaML to develop machine learning technology based on the medically-validated Feline Composite Measure Pain Scale.

Launched in 2020, Sylvester’s app, Tably, uses cell phone photos to detect pain or discomfort in cats that could indicate a health problem.

Goal: Show Investors That Cat Lovers Are App Lovers

Through her close work with veterinary professionals and cat owners, Groeneveld knew her AI technology could help get cats better care. Tests of the technology showed high accuracy in detecting feline discomfort.

But in order to take it to the next level, she needed buy-in from investors.

Investors care about traction. They want to see evidence that there’s a market for a product before they put money in. As Sylvester’s marketing partner, we needed to show user interest in the product to help get investors onboard.

Sylvester Case Study - Tably Screenshot

Strategy: Get Cat Owners to Give Tably a Try

We needed to capture the attention of cat caregivers and get them to download the app. To do that, we asked: what was special about Tably that would interest cat owners and vets? What would matter to them to get them to download?

Based on audience research, we knew that cat owners want to do what’s best for their furry friend, but they often don’t know what that is. We decided to position Tably as a tool to help them decode their cat’s behaviour, help them better connect with their pet, and give them peace of mind.

We also knew we could leverage covid-era excitement around digital health products as well as growing interest in artificial intelligence to help us get users’ attention.

Our key message was that app users could use the latest pet-health technology to better understand their cat.


Sylvester Case Study - Wired Article on Laptop

Results: Over 80,000 Cat Connections

In order to drive downloads, we needed to get the word out to as many cat owners and veterinary professionals as possible. We needed visibility, and lots of it.

The agency and Sylvester teams worked hard to get the message out to the world, with a PR and digital media campaign designed to capture attention and build buzz.

The hustle paid off, and after a few long nights and a lot of media interviews, the story was picked up by publications like WIRED magazine, Reuters, and others that helped us spread the word.

Tably received over 80,000 downloads in the first 3 months, with dozens of testimonials from cat owners who felt more connected with their cat and confident in their choices for its care.

All this attention proved to investors that there was user interest in the technology. Sylvester was successful in raising capital, and the visibility from our campaign helped garner an invitation to pitch at SXSW, plus partnerships with companies like Purina.

With funding to continue building its technology and an established user base of better-connected cat owners, Sylvester can focus on its core mission of getting cats better care.

“Helping cats and the people that love them is the real measurement of success,” says Groeneveld.