A smartphone app which translates your cat’s sounds

In November 2020 I wrote about the development of this software. It is now on the market on Google Play as a downloadable smartphone app called Meow Talk. In summary, you will be able to translate your cat’s sounds using your smartphone which is the Holy Grail of translation services. I’m not sure that it is going to be as accurate as they hope but on Google play it receives a very healthy 4.3 out of 5 from over 30,000 reviews. That indicates to me in a very clear manner that it has worked well for people who have downloaded it.

Example from Brie:

At first the app was saying my cats were in constant pain (I can only assume they need attention so much it hurts or they are just DYING waiting for their dinner to be placed on the floor). Recently it’s given much better results that make sense, like “I’m hunting” when they are waiting for food or …

I presume that the human language that the app translates to is English but I am not sure if you can select the language.

Meow Talk

Meow Talk logo

As a cat owner you help to train the software which is built around artificial intelligence. Therefore it can learn for itself. You record your cat’s voice when they’re doing certain routine activities such as asking for food or asking to be let out of the home. You give the app 5 to 10 examples of a specific meow like these and the app can start to recognise the meow when it hears it. It takes 24 hours, after the software has updated, for it to start recognising a new word. It is able to translate your cat’s meows into one of nine general cat intents (desires and requests). They reflect your cat’s moods and state of mind and are as follows:

  • Happy-content
  • Defence
  • Angry
  • Attack
  • Mother call
  • Mating call
  • In pain
  • Resting
  • Hunting

Meow Talk was developed by a former Amazon on Alexa engineer, Jarvier Sanchez, who has said that his intention was to the help cat owners stuck at home with their pets to build a stronger bond with them. He said, “This will enable them to communicate with their cat, or at least understand their cat’s intent, and build a very important connection.”

Computer scientists and biologists are sceptical. These people have worked on this sort of software for two decades and they are unsure whether it is possible to pin down the precise meaning of a meow or a bark. For example, Arik Kershenbaum, a lecturer at the University of Cambridge, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph remarked that, “This is the mistake that a lot of people make when thinking we can translate animal language. They don’t even have a concept of meaning as we have it.”

Cat meowing I want

Cat Meow. Photo by rhibiki.geo

I think it’s fair to say that Mr Sanchez agrees with that but he appears to be confident that his smartphone app can enhance the lives of cat and cat owner alike. It may present problems if a cat owner relies upon it too literally because if the translation is incorrect the owner’s response may be against the welfare of their cat.

Chris Mitchell, founder of Audio Analytic, said: “knowing if a dog is distressed from the frequency and mix of sounds, that’s straying into possibility. But telling from a single bark if your dog is hungry or angry? That’s straying into problems.”

Hey, that should not prevent you from having some fun trying it and if it works great. Enjoy. That said the savvy cat owners have worked out long ago what their cat is saying… 🙂 .

LINK TO THE GOOGLE PLAY PAGE WHERE YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE APP (sometimes external links stop working, please note).

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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