Engineer Creates App that Reportedly Translates your Cat

“If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.” So says Nan Porter and a thousand memes. But do you know what? Cats do talk. A lot. The problem is, none of us have any idea what they’re saying. But according to that could all be about to change. By all accounts, a former Amazon engineer has taken it upon himself to open Pandora’s box with an app that promises to elevate human – feline communication to all new heights.

The Inspiration behind MeowTalk

Determined to give cat owners access to the inner workings of their pet’s minds, Javier Sanchez (formally of Amazon, now of Akvelon) has developed MeowTalk, an app that promises to decipher anything your cat says and translate it into something we can understand. Sanchez says that he was inspired to create the app after watching the NPR series “The Secret Language of Cats.” Having previously worked on Alexa during his stint with Amazon, Sanchez decided to use his experience for the greater good by creating a new tool specifically for the felines of the world.

What Does it Do?

After extensive research, Sanchez came to the conclusion that whatever cats are doing when they open their mouths, it’s not speaking. Not in the way you and I think of speech, in any case. “It’s not a language. They don’t share words or communicate with each other. Cats never meow at each other out in nature,” he explains via So, if they’re not ‘speaking’, what are they doing? According to Sanchez, they’re simply conveying an intent. Cats have nine intents in total (per Sanchez, at least) and it’s these basic intents (or emotions to give them another name) that the new app taps into. If a cat says “I’m in pain,” the app will tell you. If they’re hungry, happy, or sad, it’ll do the same. To ensure it works for all cats, the app can be fine-tuned to individual reactions.

Does it Work?

If an app can tell you when a cat is in pain, then that alone makes it worth its weight in gold. Cats are notoriously secretive about their aches and pains, which can result in many problems escalating unnecessarily. But does it really do what it says on the tin? Can an app really plug into a cat’s emotions and relay the information with any degree of accuracy? Or is it just another money spinner designed to get naive pet owners to hand over their money? So far, the jury’s out. And it’s probably going to stay that way until we finally get to test it out for ourselves.

At the moment, the app is still being refined to include other languages besides English. Sanchez has apparently tested it on his own kitten to some success (the cat issued a meow that translated to, “I’m angry, leave me alone!” as Sanchez was struggling to hold him). In time, he hopes to perfect the technology to allow it to be used on a collar that will translate any meows into a comprehensible response. If it does work, then we’re looking at something that goes way beyond the remit of a fun gadget. An app that tells us exactly what a cat is thinking could do wonders for our relationship with them… and result in a lot less scratched arms and irritated kitties.

Deciphering Cat Talk

Whether or not MeowTalk manages to achieve its objective, we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, pet owners who want to get an insight into their cat’s behavior would be well advised to take the advice of and learn more about what amounts to a very extensive cat vocabulary. As you’ll know if you’ve ever paid attention to your cat’s vocalizations, meows can come in one of any number of different types, all of which have their own unique meaning.

The Happy Chirp

If your cat greets you with a pleasant little squeak, trill, or chirp, then don’t worry – they’ve not morphed into a canary. These closed mouthed utterances usually mean your cat’s very pleased to see you. Most of the time, they’ll come after the cat’s just eaten a full dinner and is now happily enjoying a very satisfying ear rub. Some cats also use them as a way of announcing their presence, or as a way of gently reminding you to do something – if you hear it as you’re preparing their dinner, that’s your cue to get a move on.

The Versatile Meow

A meowing cat could be happy. They could also be in distress. Sometimes, they just want you to do something and be quick on your feet while you do it. Basically, a meow can be a lot of things, depending on the circumstances and the cat in question. If it’s coming from a kitten with an open mouth, it’s likely to be a distress call signaling they’re hungry, lost, scared, or just really, really want their mommy. If it’s coming from an adult cat with a wide mouth and no signs of stopping anytime soon, it indicates that they need something doing as quickly as possible. If it’s short and casual, it’s likely to be nothing more than a greeting or an informal request.

The Mewing Request

A mew sounds like a short, sweet meow. Usually, it means your cat wants something. While it’s pleasant enough, it can quickly turn into a more persistent meow if you don’t act as quickly as they’d like.

The ‘I’m So Cute’ Meow

Cats are sneaky. Really, really sneaky. For a start, they don’t by nature meow at all. Lions don’t meow. Tigers don’t meow. No wild cat worth its tail meows. Why? Because they don’t have some gullible human dancing to their attention. According to most researchers, cats have learned to meow solely for our benefit. Back in the early days of their domestication, some cat somewhere must have let slip an accidental meow, realized the effect, and told all its friends. Fast forward to today, and they’re all doing it. And we’re all jumping to attention. The silent meow is a classic example of a cat’s manipulative ways: they know what they’re doing is too high pitched for us to hear, but they do it anyway because it makes them look cute. And somewhere along the line, they’ve figured out we’re much more inclined to do favors for a cute cat than a grumpy one.

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