In case you didn’t know, music written specifically for cats is a thing.
I’d heard about it a while back, and the project seemed impressive: “Music for Cats” composer David Teie is a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, and he worked with animal behaviorists and veterinarians to come up with kitty-soothing sound textures and test the music’s efficacy on cats visiting the veterinarian.
A 2019 study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery concluded “Music for Cats” could help our furry friends relax and ease their stress. Keeping in mind an earlier study that suggested cats prefer “feline-centric sounds,” Teie incorporated audio of events cats associate with happy times, like kittens suckling milk from their mothers.
Using Buddy as my test subject, I went to Youtube, selected the track Cozmo’s Air from “Music for Cats” and sat back, expecting Bud to start nodding his furry head at any moment.
Instead his ears pricked up, did their radar-dish swivel toward the speakers, and his eyes went wide. As the song gained volume and intensity, Bud’s ears and whiskers snapped back and he let out a clearly anxious “yerrrrrrrrrrppp!” I tried to calm him down, to no avail, and a second track didn’t improve things.
He wasn’t having it.
Teie’s cat music is back in the news with the release of the Kickstarter-backed Music for Cats 2, and there are quite a few imitators on Youtube hawking their own supposedly cat-soothing musical efforts. (Though your cat might think she’s in Guantanamo Bay if you subject her to six-hour videos of “cat lullabies.”)
Should I test some of the new music on Buddy to see if he responds more favorably? And for our fellow readers and cat servants, have you played any of this stuff for your cats? If you have, how’d it work out?
A shadowy group of Russians are behind a complex and nefarious plot to discredit Buddy, sources allege.
The Russian operatives were behind the recent Time magazine snub in which Buddy was ludicrously excluded from a top 10 cat list, several cats with knowledge of the operation meowed on condition of anonymity.
Deep-cover Russian agents have also worked to sully Buddy’s reputation as a heroic American feline by seeding social media with anti-Buddesian sentiment and viral content.
One Youtube video purports to show Buddy running terrified from a vacuum, but a spokesman for Buddy said the Russians used a similar-looking silver tabby to film the fabricated incident.
“The Buddy double was convincing, but anyone can see for themselves the cat in the video isn’t muscular enough to pass for His Grace,” spokesman Purrcy Pressman told reporters. “Vladimew Pootin and the Russians are underestimating the intelligence of the everycat if they think kitties will believe Buddy would run from a vacuum.”
Allegations of Russian involvement weren’t a surprise to feline officials, who blame the KGB (Kitty Gaslighting Bureau) for most of the salacious rumors circulating in the feline world over the past five years.
Those same KGB agents were responsible for tabloid stories that alleged Streetcat Bob’s name was found in a little black book when the FBI — Feline Bureau of Investigators — raided a purrstitution ring in November, sources say.
“These Russians are dangerous,” National Security Adviser Saul Berenson said. “Just look at what they did to Carrie Meowthison, one of our best agents. Buddy would do well to keep a low profile for the time being.”
Yvgeny Groomov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy, denied the allegations, but nonetheless said the KGB was in possession of kompromat that could destroy the reputations of famous American felines.
“Buddy is like small child, he is insignificant to Motherland,” Groomov said. “Real story is about how Americans are always using Russia as scapecat for all things going wrong. We say to the Americans, thank you for allowing us live in your heads free of rent.”
“The failing Time magazine didn’t even put me on their top 10 cats list. If they did, maybe they would sell more copies! Sad!” Buddy tweeted after the story was published.
Others expressed their outrage at Time’s snub.
”Time magazine has proven itself irrelevant by failing to include the handsomest tabby in America, and quite possibly the world,” gossip meower Pawrez Hilton wrote. “Do they realize thousands of kittens have posters of Buddy on their walls? He’s absolutely dreamy.”
“No Buddy? Absurd!” Meower user @SexyCalico24 commented. “I mean, have you seen his muscles? RAWR!”
Time’s editors were forced to backtrack after a deluge of angry phone calls and emails, along with a hundreds-strong protest outside the magazine’s Manhattan headquarters.
“It was a grave oversight on our part to exclude Buddy from our list, and we apologize,” the magazine’s editors wrote in a statement. “We know it will take time to win back the trust of our readers, but we hope to make it up to them with a 24-page photo spread of Buddy in our April issue.”
Claws Woodward, a purrfessor of feline journalism at the Harvard School for Cat Studies, said the embarrassing oversight is a sign that Time magazine is out of touch with kittens and young cats.
“Buddy is an action hero, like Snacky Chan or Ahnold Schwarzenmeower,” Woodward said. “With his movie star good looks and his rippling muscles, he clearly should have been on that list. I mean, ‘Jealous Cat’? Real Housewives meme cat? Come on! You don’t put Z-listers ahead of one of the most treasured cats of our generation.”
Still, not everyone was convinced Buddy should have made the list. Pop singer Taylor Swift was among those who clapped back at Buddy for his vanity.
“Buddy who?” Swift tweeted, throwing shade at the Budster. “If any cats should be on that list, my kitties should occupy all ten spots. I’m going to write a song about how they were cheated. Let me finish!”
When Alan Turing was dreaming of a future made better by intelligent machines back in 1950, it’s a safe bet he wasn’t imagining computers that could analyze your cat’s excrement.
Turing, often called the father of artificial intelligence, couldn’t have envisioned a device like the LuluPet litter box, which harnesses the combined intelligence of man and machine — a proud lineage of devices from the Speak N Spell to the latest iPhone — to conduct “stool and urine image analysis” and compare your cat’s bowel movements to “excretory behavioral algorithms.”
Excretory behavioral algorithms! A sentence so ridiculous that you must be thinking I’m shitting you, dear reader, just like I double-checked to make sure the whole thing wasn’t some recycled April Fool’s joke.
Nope. The LuluPet litter box is real. It earned an Innovation Award honoree nod at CES 2020’s tech trade show, and it’s headed to Amazon, where you’ll be able to buy it for $149.
Using a scale and sensor system, LuluPet can determine whether your cat’s performing a Number One or a Number Two inside the covered box, and it’s got visual recognition as well.
When your cat goes for a pinch, built-in cameras zoom in on the freshly-dropped deuce nuggets and, uh, log the images to LuluPet’s growing database of kitty crap. That’s when sophisticated algorithms get to work, analyzing the turds’ attributes — including texture, consistency and color, apparently — so it can compare them to others, ostensibly to alert you to any health problems plaguing your stoic kitty.
Worried that the device won’t work because your cat buries her business? Fear not! LuluPet uses “AI image restoration technologies” to recreate your cat’s turd so it can run it through its stool database.
“The litter box comes with 2 AI systems: one for litter analysis, and another that analyzes clumping between litter and litter box material,” the Taiwan-based company explains. “The latter attempts to reconstruct litter shape and present it to the former for confirmation, and can currently identify litter with an accuracy of up to 90%.”
NASA doesn’t even have tech like this!
Put away those fears of rogue AI trying to wipe out humanity. Lighten up. Take a load off. AI doesn’t want to kill you. It just wants to amass the world’s most impressive collection of feline fecal photographs.
There’s an app for that
Of course, you may want to verify your cat is performing healthy bowel movements for yourself, and an integrated app allows you to tap into the litter box’s camera feed to watch kitty having a nice growler. Welcome to the future, folks.
And for those of you who think this is a fantastic idea but might balk at the pricy LuluPet because you’ve got an entire pride of little lions, fear not: The device’s AI can differentiate between the output of multiple cats by looking for the unique features of each kitty’s downloads.
Again, I’m totally not making this up.
Now that we’ve had our fun, it’s only fair to note the LuluPet litter box is well-intentioned, and if it works as intended, it could lead to critical early diagnosis for animals who are notorious for hiding pain and discomfort:
“Among the top ten causes of death for domestic cats, seven were feces-related diseases. Cats, however, are born concealers of their own weaknesses, making it difficult for owners to find out whether their precious feline is in pain. LuluPet illustrates this with the example of kidney failure: Statistically, a cat’s kidneys are 70% damaged by the time the owner suspects an illness and brings the cat to the veterinarian. The organ damage is not only irreversible, but subsequent medical fees may cost up to US$ 1,200.
Sick cats aren’t completely undetectable. According to the Bristol stool scale, cat feces may be divided into 7 categories, ranging from constipation to diarrhea; constipation may be caused by the pressing of a tumor, while symptoms of diarrhea may be the result of common systemic diseases such as kidney failure. Stool analysis thus becomes the most straightforward way of detecting these diseases.”
Maybe an all-knowing machine overlord to watch over your feline overlord isn’t such a bad thing.
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.