Javier Sanchez, a former Amazon engineer, has created an app to translate cats' meows. The app is called MeowTalk and is available in the Google Play store and the AppStore. The app uses machine learning to instantly translate meows.
Some of the basic phrases that come with the app include, "I'm hungry", "I'm in pain", and "I'm happy". Owners can fine-tune the app to understand their specific cat better. The app description says that the app requires five to ten examples of a cat's vocalization to correctly translate a meow.
Part of the difficulty is that meows are not a language. Cats do not naturally communicate vocally. They vocalize specifically to communicate with humans, Sanchez explained to KING5:
"It's not a language. They don’t share words or communicate with each other. Cats never meow at each other out in nature."
There are four types of sounds: murmurs, vowels, chirps, and strained intense sounds (hisses and growls). Murmurs are generally pleasant, intense sounds are negative, chirps are a sign of frustration, and vowels are used for general communication.
The app will be continued to be updated and refined. Currently, it has a little over four stars from Android users, so it is off to a good start. But it is unlikely to give us many new insights into cat behavior. To properly train the app, the owner must already know what their cat is trying to tell them.