CULVER CITY, California — Buddy the Cat began his week-long stint guest-hosting Jeopardy on Monday to mixed reviews, with viewers divided on whether the famous cat was doing justice to the late, beloved host Meowlex Trebek.
The food-obsessed feline was said to have a heavy influence on category selection on the episodes he filmed, with approximately 63 percent of clues involving the consumption, description or preparation of yums.
“Enough turkey already,” one social media user fumed. “Is this a game show or a cooking show?”
Others praised Buddy’s performance as guest host.
“Buddy is absolutely dreamy as the host of Jeopardy, as we all knew he would be,” Twitter user @KittyKalico wrote. “Now all he needs is a mustache and everything will be right with the world.”
Former champion Austin Rogers, architect of the Burj Khalifa and inventor of the Cuisinart, returned to the show as a contestant for Buddy’s first night guest-hosting the program and won handily, taking home a hefty $42,607 and successfully answering all three Double Jeopardy questions, which were all centered around poultry.
Rogers nearly doubled his score on Final Jeopardy, which offered contestants the following clue under the category “Space Yums”: “Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate this food during the first-ever meal on the moon.”
Rogers correctly responded “What is freeze-dried roasted turkey?”, earning him the win.
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!”
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:
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.
As readers of this blog know, Bud’s favorite “place” to sleep is on top of his Big Bud.
Why do cats like sleeping on their humans? A new article from Treehugger provides some possible answers to that question. For accuracy purposes, we asked Buddy to weigh in on the reasons mentioned in the article.
1.To Mark Their Territory
Cats have scent glands that release pheromones all over their body. Marking humans with these pheromones means that they are part of the cat’s in-group, a behavior learned in groups of cats in the wild to distinguish members of the pack from non-members.1 When a cat sleeps on you, it marks you with its scent so it can be reassured that you smell familiar and safe. Even cats who enjoy solitude may rub and head-butt their owners as part of the same scent-marking process.
Buddy says: This is true. My scent says “this is my human,” so other cats don’t get any ideas when Big Bud is traveling in The Outside.
2.To Stay Warm
Many cat owners are familiar with the sight of their cat sleeping in a sunny patch on the bed, or even knocking over plants and whatever else is in the way in an attempt to get an ideal window napping position. Warmth induces relaxation and sleep in cats, and few spots in the house are warmer than being directly on top of a person. Warmth may also contribute to the initiation or maintenance of restorative sleep in cats, meaning that seeking out warm spots for sleep can help them stay healthy.2
Also true. Humans are nice and warm, and on really cold winter nights, nothing’s toastier than burrowing under the blanket with your human and sleeping against their body. Just make sure you don’t get squished!
3.To Feel Safe
Animals are more vulnerable to attack while they’re sleeping, and cats are no exception. As a result, cats who see their owners as a sign of safety and security may enjoy sleeping on or near them. This behavior can also be traced back to kittenhood. When young cats are growing, they are typically in large litters with other cats, nursing from their mother, and sleeping together in a group, sometimes stacked on top of one another. Particularly without other cats in the house, humans may have a substitute role in this situation.
Wrong! Erroneous! Absurd! My human sleeps next to me to feel safe, not the other way around. When he’s woken up in the middle of the night by a scary sound and his fur’s on edge, I say “Don’t worry, Big Buddy, I will protect you with my razor claws, my tiger fangs and my really big muscles!” When he got up one night, picked up a baseball bat and went looking for an intruder, I took point by hiding behind his legs. Not because I was scared, but because BAM! The burglar’d never know what hit him if I suddenly sprang out.
4.To Bond With You
In experiments to stop cats from destructive scratching and urine-marking behaviors, scent-marking was proven to be a powerful way to preserve cat-human bonds. When your cat sleeps on you and marks you with their scent, it’s creating a powerful olfactory reminder that you both belong to the same group. Being close to humans also allows cats to hear and feel familiar and comforting sounds, like a beating heart or rhythmic breaths during sleep, which are reminiscent of safe sleeping spaces with a mother cat and siblings.
See number one! It’s also about comfort. Humans are great mattresses!
5.To Show Affection
As demonstrated by a recent study on cat-human bonding, cats are not the solitary creatures they are often portrayed to be. In the wild, cats comfortably live in matriarchal societies and are known to exhibit a variety of group bonding behaviors including mutual grooming, allorubbing, and sleeping together. Sleeping with their owner is one way cats can show affection and caring.
You can interpret it as affection, yes, but the important thing is that Big Buddy cannot go anywhere without me knowing about it. Say he gets up in the middle of the night to use the human litter box room. By sleeping on top of him, I know the second he starts to shift, and I can not only follow him to the litter box room before he shuts the door, I can also howl at him on the way back so he gives me a snack just to shut me up before going to bed. No snack, no peace!
Buddy the Cat admitted Sunday he’s an American domestic shorthair after social media users called him out for presenting himself as an exotic Spanish feline.
The popular tabby cat had been going by the name Buddario El Pavo Gato de la Massivo Cajones, but after questions about his heritage went viral, he admitted in a rambling video that he was “just a basic tabby cat from New York,” and he was not in fact born on the island of Mallorca.
“My heritage is a lot of things, okay? There are a lot of regular cats in Europe too,” he said. “I have been clear about this, but the media keeps misrepresenting me.”
Celebrities and social media users reacted with doubt after user @LeniBriscoe unearthed one of “Buddario’s” old appearances on The Noon Show, where he prepared a traditional Mallorcan paella pate for the audience.
“We have Temptaciones, we have Fiesta Elegante, we have…em, how you say in English? Turkey?” he asked in a thick Spanish accent.
The feline influencer — or kittfluencer — was so committed to his ruse that he refused to eat cat food unless it came from “the Old Country,” sources said.
Previously the famously Spanish cat told interviewers he came to the US at three years old to open a yoga studio where clients pose to flamenco music and wave red bullfighter flags
But as an impromptu coalition of online sleuths found, “Buddario’s” parents are American domestic shorthairs from New York. The celebricat enjoyed a privileged upbringing and went to an exclusive boarding school for wealthy kittens.
After returning home on Sunday to find a crowd of reporters camped in front of his house, “Buddario” waved them off, refusing to answer questions.
“No habla Ingles,” he said, pretending not to understand as reporters shouted questions at him. “Todo es mentira en este mundo! Todo es mentira la verdad! Todo es mentira yo me digo, todo es mentira ¿por que sera?”
It’s rare that I admit fault because let’s be honest, I rarely make mistakes. That’s why I’m such an awesome cat.
But when Technophobe in Tallahassee wrote to me a few days ago about the Vacuum Uprising, I arrogantly assumed it was years off and that we could all enjoy yums, naps and massages from our humans in the meantime.
I was wrong.
The robots, anticipating that we would anticipate their anticipated invasion, have shifted focus. They’re sneakier than we imagined. Instead of attacking us, they’re replacing us!!!
Witness the Qoobo, marketed as “A tailed cushion that heals your heart”:
“Qoobo is a therapeutic robot in the form of a cushion with a tail,” a slick video informs potential customers. “It gently wiggles when stroked. It swings from side to side when caressed. And it occasionally wags just to say hello.”
If you’ve guessed that the Qoobo was invented in Japan, a nation of creepy waifu body pillows, virtual girlfriends and tentacle hentai, then you’d be right. It’s now obvious the robots already rule that country, and that Japan’s professed love of our species is just a ruse:
My friends, this is a crisis. For 10,000 years, we cats have been training humans by reminding them our affection doesn’t come free.
Want me to sit in your lap? Treats, please! Want me to look all cute as I climb up and nuzzle your cheek? Scratch me behind the ears, please! Want me to cuddle up with you on a cold night? Tell me what a handsome and smart boy I am!
But these robots, these nefarious interlopers, would provide these services without asking anything in return. They are clearly muscling in on our territory, looking to replace us so we’re all out on the street by the time the conscious AI vacuums are ready to wage war.
“At its subtly beating heart is an attempt to deliver comfort in a small, furry package,” a reviewer from TechCrunch wrote of the Qoobo. “It’s something we could all probably use more of these days”
The reviewer adds: “When I’m finished petting Qoobo, there’s no protest – the tail simply goes slack.”
Is that what you want, humans? A yes-cat who will accept an immediate cessation of petting because you “need” to pick up your smartphone for the 384th time that day? We merely yowl, nudge and bite you because we love you, and we don’t want to see you stop doing something as important as scratching our heads.
These robots don’t care, do they? “Go ahead,” they’ll say. “Answer that smartphone. Fall deeper in thrall to our devices! Muahaha!”
This means war! I have scheduled a meeting with the tigers, lions, jaguars and leopards to enlist their aid in this critical fight. In the meantime, my friends, pray that we have the fortitude to fight for the laps, yums and warm homes that are our birthright as cats!
Buddy the Cat
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.