I have what I believe is one of the world’s most talkative cats. She follows me around my apartment, keeping up a steady stream of meows, chirps and whines in more tones that I would have believed a cat capable of. It’s a little bit unnerving sometimes; if I’m too slow about getting her food, her whines sound disturbingly like the complaints of a frustrated toddler. If I speak to her, or talk to myself out loud, she almost always responds with some sort of chirp of agreement or question, which then prompts me to respond in turn, and before you know it, we’re having an entire conversation. Then there’s the verbal abuse. For example, if I’ve been out, she unleashes such a furious tirade at me when I get home that I actually start to feel ashamed for leaving, and feel the need to defend myself. “I wasn’t gone for that long! Calm down! Do we really have to do this right now?! I’m going to bed.”
Yes, I do get out of the house frequently, and yes, I do have plenty of human friends. Don’t pretend you don’t have conversations with your cats and dogs. In fact, lots of people do – enough that cat treat manufacturer Temptations has designed a new piece of technology that promises to translate your cat’s vocalizations into English. Catterbox is a 3D printed collar that, according to the Temptations Lab, uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology to decode the sounds your cat makes and project them into language that humans can understand – much like the talking dogs in the Pixar movie UP. Though I suspect that cat translation collars will deliver a lot less “I have just met you, but I love you!” proclamations and a lot more “Touch me again and I’ll murder you” threats.
The 3D printed collar connects wirelessly to an app that allows you to choose what kind of voice you’d like your cat to speak with. There are several options, apparently – male, female, American, English, etc. There are several videos on the Temptations website that show cats speaking in rather upper-class British accents, which somehow seems appropriate. (“Have you washed your hands?” one cat snootily asks his owner as she offers him a handful of treats – presumably Temptations.) I’m wondering if there’s a “shrill, hyperactive, deranged, tantrum-throwing toddler” option that I could select for my cat, because I don’t think any other voice would fit her properly.
“We set up The Temptations Lab in 2015 in order to inject some serious fun into cats’ lives,” the Temptations website states. “For our first project we’ve set out to use the very latest technology to get to know them better. We believe that if people understood cats better they’d see just how awesome they really are.”
It seems to me that people already find cats to be pretty awesome, just based on the sheer volume of feline content on the Internet alone. That’s a pretty good guarantee, though, that should this product actually hit the market (right now it’s just in the prototype stage) it’s pretty likely to be a hit. Other news websites that have mentioned the Catterbox have been bombarded with comments such as “I WANT THIS” and “OMG where can I get one of these?” I’m a little apprehensive about the idea myself – I’m not entirely sure I want to know what my precious little angel demon cat is actually saying to me, because I have a strong suspicion that a lot of it is pretty hurtful and more than a little bit obscene. What do you think of this idea? Discuss in the 3D Printed CatterBox forum over at 3DPB.com.