MeowTalk Says Buddy Is A Very Loving Cat!

A while back I wrote a post about MeowTalk, a new app that uses AI — and input from thousands of users sampling their cats’ vocalizations — to translate meows, trills and chirps for the benefit of those of us who don’t fluently speak cat or might need some clarity on what our furry friends are trying to say.

Now that I’ve finally had the opportunity to give MeowTalk a spin, it turns out Bud is a much more polite cat than I thought he was!

What I thought was an unenthusiastic “I acknowledge your presence, human” turned out to be “Nice to see you!” according to MeowTalk.

Buddy’s next meows were “Love me!” and “I love you!”, the app informed me. Weird. I thought he was complaining that I was only half-heartedly simulating prey with his wand toy while watching Jeopardy.

After Jeopardy I headed to the bathroom, which was the real test.

I intentionally closed the door before the little stinker could sneak in the bathroom with me, then held up the phone to capture his muted vocalization. I was sure Bud was saying “Open the door!” but the app told me Buddy was saying “I’m in love!”

Awww. What a good boy. How could I not let him in?

Once inside, Buddy began talking again as I knew he would. He’s a vocal cat.

“I’m looking for love!” the app translated as Bud pawed at the door, demanding to be let back out again. “My love, come find me!”

MeowTalk Screenshot

What was going on here?

Was Bud really professing his undying love for me, his human, or was he workshopping cheesy dialogue for a feline romance novel he’s been secretly working on?

Thankfully, MeowTalk allows you to correct translations if you think the app’s gotten them wrong. This looks more like it:

The Translated Buddy
Translation from the original Buddinese language.

MeowTalk is in beta, and it can only get better as more users download the app, make profiles for their cats and make an effort to tag vocalizations with their correct meaning.

The app was authored by a software engineer who was part of the team that brought Amazon’s Alexa to life, and the algorithms that power it already show promise: When the app is listening (which it does only actively, after you have explicitly given it permission to do so), it does a great job of distinguishing cat vocalizations from background noise, human chatter, televisions and other incidental sounds. Even my fake meows were unable to fool it.

Each vocalization is sampled and saved to the history tab of your cat’s profile, so you can review and adjust the translations later. If you’ve got more than one cat you can make profiles for each one, and the app says it can tell which cat is talking. I wasn’t able to test this since the King does not allow interlopers in his kingdom, but given MeowTalk’s accuracy in distinguishing meows from every other sound — even with lots of background chatter — I have no reason to doubt it can sort vocalizations by cat.

In some respects it reminds me of Waze, the irreplaceable map and real-time route app famous for saving time and eliminating frustration. I was one of the first to download the app when it launched and found it useless, but when I tried it again a few months later, it steered me past traffic jams and got me to my destination with no fuss.

What was the difference? Few people were using it in those first few days, but as the user base expanded, so did its usefulness.

Like Waze, MeowTalk’s value is in its users, and the data it collects from us. The more cats it hears, the better it’ll become at translating them. If enough of us give it an honest shot, it just may turn out to be the feline equivalent of a universal translator.

And if it’s successful, its creator wants to make a standalone version as a collar, which would translate our cats’ vocalizations in real time. As far as I’m concerned, anything that can help us better understand our cats is a good thing.

Check out the free-to-use MeowTalk on Google Play and Apple’s app store.

Buddy the Cat
“Okay, fine. I love you human. But that doesn’t mean you can slack off with the snacks.”

15 thoughts on “MeowTalk Says Buddy Is A Very Loving Cat!”

  1. I absolutely love Buddy the cat and his awesome informative posts! I am going to download MeowTalk right now based on his recommendation. Keep up the great work you guys! Robbi, China, and Russia Layne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Little Buddy thanks you for your kind words, rxlayne. If you get a chance, please let us know how you and your cats fare with MeowTalk. I’m going to keep using it as well and hopefully will have more to report after trying it in more situations and contexts.

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    1. As much as I joke around about his demanding personality, he reminds me he loves me every day when he hops up, starts purring and rubs his head against my face. And of course by napping on/next to me, the ultimate sign of trust.

      You just gave me a good idea for a post. 🙂 “How do your cats show you their love?”

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    1. I know, right? Some meows are unmistakable by tone without the need for translation. “I want” is a big one. Buddy also makes an annoyed complaining noise when I catch him doing something he knows he’s not supposed to do, like scratching the couch. It sounds like “Awwww, but I WANNA!” Sometimes they’re so much like children it’s uncanny.

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  2. It would be really cool if you could build the Buddy library with 32,798 different expressions! I’m curious how Buddy’s meows sound like. Must be cute. I downloaded the app a couple days ago, but haven’t gotten any recorded yet – the only time Shima meows with a decent volume is 4 am, having some kind of demands, while Ganmo hardly ever meows. I’ll report if I can catch any!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. How adorable and expressive Lots of demands with love!

        I was able to catch some meows of Shima when he went crazy in the middle of the night. Amongst those expressions of his “love” (“Love me!” “My love, I’m here!”), there was this unusual one – “I see prey.” Well, I hope not!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Interesting. I have not gotten the prey one yet. Is Shima indoor, outdoor or both? Maybe he saw something through the window, or maybe he caught movement or a shadow that triggered his hunting instinct.

        Or maybe the app just has it wrong. I was trying to record Bud again today when I thought of a comment Retro Dee left on

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      3. (continued) that she left above: “If Holly’s mews are translated as anything other than the first two words being “I WANT…” then I’ll know this app is bogus.”

        Which is not only funny, but rings true. I was pretty damn sure Bud was asking for something, but the app said he was greeting me.

        I’m going to correct as many as I can to help with data collection so the algorithm improves at translating.

        Like

      4. Shima is an indoor cat, but does a two-minute patio patrol a couple of times a day. He is absolutely useless when it comes to a prey as he is scared of most non-cat creatures. Also, his meow translated as seeing a prey was definitely a demand – something like “WHERE ARE YOU!!!!” or “PLAY TIME! ANYONE!?” – so, I’d say the translation was not correct. I totally agree that Retro Dee’s comment is a spot on 🙂

        However, here is something positive about the app. Shima is a triller. When he meows with a decent volume, it’s usually a trill, and for that he has earned a nickname, ‘Pigeon Boy.’ So, if the app recognized Shima’s trill and connected it to the prey sighting, I’d say that the app may have some good baseline data. It just didn’t work for Shima as he trills around for many things. Unfortunately, the app has some issues with my phone, so I cannot replay the recording, and I am unable to check what his meows were like 😦

        Liked by 1 person

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