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CatMeows: A Publicly-Available Dataset of Cat Vocalizations (2020) (zenodo.org)
309 points by diplodocusaur 5 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 75 comments

This reminds me of some people working on a cat translator[0]

The paper this dataset links to [1] seems to be using statistical techniques to compare spectrograms of meows, something that seems pretty easy with fastaudio[2].

[0]: https://github.com/FrogBoss74/RealCatTranslator [1]: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/8/543 [2]: https://github.com/fastaudio/fastaudio

Having a cat, I have worked out a sophisticated translation lookup table:

    cat[] = meow meow meow meow meow
    translation[] = feedme feedme feedme feedme feedme
So far, it is 100% accurate.

There is also

meow, meaning "leave me alone I am trying to sleep", and

meow, meaning "behold human, I have deigned to bless you with a gift of this deceased rodent".

"My human, you look miserable, I have never seen you hunt, here cook yourself this delicious Mus musculus molossinus I got from the rear of fine Japanese restaurant"

I wish they were dead; I spent an hour looking for one that was brought back in…

I need an app that can tell me when my cat has had enough pettings to alert me before he flips over and latches on to my arm and kicks layers of my skin off.

That app would make a FORTUNE!

Disclaimer: I'm no Jackson Galaxy. But pets, both cats and dogs, communicate with their owners in their own way.

Cats are a lot about body language.

For your question I just look at the ears and the tail. When the ears go lower and/or tail starts wagging, I stop. Or when my cat moves a small distance away, sits there and stares/smiles? I stop.

I've noticed that what I interpret as a desire for petting is often some other business. Maybe the litterbox is full. Or maybe it's playtime (thinks the cat). Or something else is amiss.

It maybe sounds stupid but when I can't read my cat, I usually just ask. I say repeatedly "show me", "where", "show me", "where" etc. and slowly walk behind my cat and let it lead.

For example, if the balcony door is open and cold air is coming in (my cat doesn't like cold), my cat sometimes takes me to first to the fridge and then leads me to the balcony door. When the litterbox is full my cat takes me near it and sits there facing it, within visual/smelling range, but never very close to it. And so on, one has to connect the dots from the context, and ask the question "what is there at this location that is meaningful to the cat".

Of course sometimes I can't fix what my cat wants. Like when the Sun has moved away and the sleeping place in the chair has fallen under a shadow. So my cat tries a few times, repeating the same behaviour, but eventually gives up, either gets bored or realizes I can't or won't help.

I also follow my cat while asking questions! It's almost always food, water, catnip or litter.

Regarding the water: he won't drink chlorinated water. In his previous home, he developed urinary stones because they didn't figure this out. Cue a BS prescription diet sold by "vets". Nope, he just needed fresh, non-chlorinated water.

>For example, if the balcony door is open and cold air is coming in (my cat doesn't like cold), my cat sometimes takes me to first to the fridge and then leads me to the balcony door

That is an extraordinary level of symbolic communication for a cat!

My cat gives very clear signals. Tail starts moving angrily, cat heats up, purring stop.

I was pretty successful with using the rule of three. You pet a cat three times. No less, no more. Cat won't be irritated by prolonged petting, but also not fully satisfied with only three pets. My cat never scratched me when I used this rule.

Do you guys not trim their nails? No scratching when they aren't sharp.

If they ever end up outside, they're defenceless.

Ah yeah, true, we don't let out cat outside, or if we're going to, we don't trim her nails for a few weeks beforehand.

In my case here it means either : feed me , pet me or play with this toy with me . I have to try these options to know what it really means.

There's also: Let me outside and let me inside. My mistake was putting the food bowl beside the back door so I have to guess which one it is, food or out.

Well, with my cat in the childhood the translation was easy. Two meows (probably learned from "mama" = mom) meant that the cat wants attention from my mother. A single long meow meant that the cat wants to walk outside (well, this was specifically trained by meowing at the cat at appropriate times). A short meow meant either food or play, depending on the room where the cat is in.

> (well, this was specifically trained by meowing at the cat at appropriate times).

You meowed at your cat when you wanted to walk outside?

That's a fun image!

I'm not the parent commentator but I understood them to do it before they let the cat out. I'm pretty sure that's pretty normal for training behavior, until you step up the training and stop letting the cat out unless it meows correctly

I have a cat, but am a dog person. The difference in intelligence is stinking. The cat can't communicate anything past meowing generically, whereas the dog can understand what I'm saying and bark on the one it wants.

When my cat wants something, she'll meow uselessly until we chance on what it is. When my dog wants something, she'll come to me and touch me with her paw, and I'll say "Food. Water. Walk." and she'll bark at the one she wants. It's amazing.

I don't doubt that dogs are smarter than cats, but dogs are far more social and are motivated to learn by that social connection. Cats can also be trained, but it's a lot more work to keep them motivated.

Cats do communicate a lot, but it's physical and sometimes subtle; eye contact, body rubbing, head butting, contextual waiting, and so on. Our cats very rarely meow unless they haven't been noticed, or, with the Norwegian, when she wants attention and she has a toy in her mouth she wants to play with - she loves playing fetch with toy mice.

Maybe my cat is just weird, she has brain damage:


While cats mostly do just meow (as much as you can say a dog mostly just barks)... my cats definitely do have variances to their meow depending on their needs or wants.

When we stayed in an RV while the house was being built, I had to put my fat boy Percy into the shower stall with the doors closed while the dogs ate otherwise he would annoy them (with headbutts) into not wanting to eat. He developed a habit of going into the stall on his own and meowing when he wanted to be fed because we always put him into the shower when food would appear for the dogs.

Even in the new house, he jumps into the tub and meows the same way when he wants to be fed.

He meows a different way when he sits at the gate or at the top of the stairs, as if for permission to interact. If you don't acknowledge him, he won't hop the babygate or come down the stairs. If you do respond, he trills a happy chirp and trots along.

He developed a whine meow where he basically is saying "I need attention now." Most recently he did it because a towel fell into his water bowl and he couldn't drink out of it.

That counts as 'food, water, walk' to me.

Oskar also has various different behaviors associated with meow types for things that get him the response that he wants. But both cats are Sphynxes and they are unusually talky... I doubt I would have gotten as much from other breeds. But they do clearly communicate what they want from you once they find a way to get that to come across.

Cat IQ depends on the cat. We had an incredibly stupid cat who liked nice but was dumb as a rock, and would mostly sit in the kitchen staring at the far wall and looking a bit dreamy. She didn't really meow at all. Or do much of anything else.

We had a couple of high IQ cats who not only knew how to communicate they were also super-social, and made it very clear to us and to visitors what they did/didn't want.

Now we have a mid-IQ cat who is quite vocal and quite good at communicating, but we have to make more of an effort than with the previous two.

What I experienced with my cats is they don’t seem to care about learning you, rather they expect you to learn them and their signals.

They have the intelligence to communicate but it’s typically on their terms.

Also here’s an example of a cat learning to speak with language buttons: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pvgfI9P377U

cat translator finally online


owner: That can't be right, he is called Mittens.

You're lacking a "plz gib scritches" and "me wants out" in the translation table.

If the cat wants a scritch-scratch, she'll bat me with her paw.

The eagles and coyotes (I live in the middle of the city, go figure) would make short work of the cat if outside. The coyotes often hang out on the front lawn, and recently left a nice "you suck, Walter" message as a pile of poo by the front door. Had a bobcat wander by not too long ago. The coyotes don't approach me, but I'm not so sure about bobcats.

A couple weeks ago a gigantic eagle cruised by me at eye level, about 10 feet away. No way I'm going to tangle with that monster, and it's easily big enough to cart off the cat. The other cats in the neighborhood are indoor cats, too.

Once there was a juvenile coyote cut in half in the front yard. I figured it was that eagle.

Another time a ginormous owl decided to sit on the porch railing, staring at me, for quite a while. Yeah, it could easily have taken the cat apart.

Cats & dogs mostly communicate with body language so this is of limited use. A translator model would need video for training. I can’t wait for the day when I can point my iPhone camera at a dog and learn what it tries to communicate. In the meantime we can learn the fascinating language of dogs, http://en.turid-rugaas.no/calming-signals---the-art-of-survi...

No idea why you are being downvoted but cats do not talk to each other either. It’s known that their meow evolved from the baby cries, to sound needy and annoying enough that you pay attention.

Cats don't meow, but they do hiss and yowl at each other. They also nose/face bump. And make specific noises in heat.

When our current cat was in heat before being spayed I recorded the sound on my phone and played it back to her. She looked very confused. Maybe I should try it on other cats to see what happens.

She's also fascinated by one particular jingly wind chime ring tone and will follow it around until she gets bored.

Hissing cat? They will hiss at one another...

Animals do not talk. My family tried to sit me down as a kid and explain this to me. “The dog does not hear english”

It’s wrong; they talk. Body language speaks.

Cat language? Nah, that’s a bit silly.

They work! At least the "F.." ones do.

A bit of clicking and before long I had one cat on my lap and one atop the desk inspecting the speakers.

Reminds me of this cat, who has been trained to express themselves via button-presses: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGMTesZlKa0Lokb7ZNqOJXQ

I'm not convinced.

Her person is a vet, and she acknowledges in various places[1] that it's unclear whether Billi pushes the buttons to form meaningful sentences, or simply because she knows something happens when she presses them (like she'll get some sort of attention).

I can imagine there are some buttons where she might associate the button press with a specific outcome (like, she knows that when she pushes her "food" button, there's a good chance of her getting fed). But whether Billi understands that her getting fed is because she's intentionally communicating with her person is unclear.

Either way, I think the channel is mostly for fun, and my partner and I have appreciated it a lot during the pandemic. Billi had a scary health crisis a couple of weeks ago but looks to be mostly recovered now, thankfully

[1] One of those places is this FAQ page https://www.billispeaks.com/faq

The video where the cat begs (through the buttons) to go outside in the rain, takes one step outside, comes back in, and immediately complains (through the buttons) about the rain, is pretty convincing to me.

Also interesting is its use of the "angry" button in response to not getting its way, or having something irritating it, or when it's clearly frustrated by not having its needs understood.

Maybe there's more in videos I didn't watch, but I watched 5-6 videos and the cat seems to be pressing buttons randomly. It doesn't seem to correspond to anything it does.

Watch the older videos, not the newer ones.

AFIACT, the videos are a kind of progress log for demonstrating the cat's learning in different concepts. The older videos focused on [demonstration of] learning of more "core" concepts ("food", "water", "pets", "outside", etc.); but since these concepts are now fully "taught", the owner seems to feel no more need to film the cat communicating these simpler core messages, except when they form an interesting sequence or larger idea.

Instead, the newer videos focus on learning of more fringe concepts — ideas that "come up" less often — and so progress is slower in these.

(Note that, watching the videos chronologically, the number of buttons the cat has available grows quite a bit over time. I think the owner thinks that the cat now understands the general concept of associating things-to-be-communicated with presses of word-buttons, and so feels that they can now feed them new concepts faster.)

I don't think it's completely random, not some of the time, anyway. That's not to say that it's deliberate, though, either. There's a number of videos in which she'll barely touch or just hover her paw over a button, pause for a while, take it away, and then proceed to push a different button.

Unconvinced of what? Her human doesn't make any claims of any kind except that it's just something fun for them to do. Are you unconvinced that they're having fun with it?

Presumably of the claim made in the comment they replied to?

Great and fun idea, but the resolution of these files is incredibly low.

You're not kidding, they're 8 kHz i.e. ""phone resolution""...

Interesting, this seems to be related to the Bluetooth microphone that they used:

"Thus, we adopted a very small and lightweight microphone placed under the cat’s throat through a collar"

The microphone is described in their paper [0]: "The signal is transmitted via Bluetooth [...] at a sampling frequency of 8 kHz."

Also: "As a consequence, the actual range of frequencies we could rely on is 0–4 kHz. We expected that the fundamental frequency emitted by cats falls within the range, whereas some higher-frequency harmonics were likely to be cut"

[0] https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/8/543/htm

Sounds like they were over-complicating things. Simply pointing a shotgun mic at the cat from a distance would have done the trick.

I don’t blame them, though, we do it all the time in software development.

Most outdoor shotgun mics I've seen have a nice furry wind screen affectionately known (in en-gb at least) as a "dead rat". Most indoor shotgun mics I've seen also have a double life as outdoor shotgun mics, and therefore come inside a 'dead rat'.

My cat will investigate anything pointed at him, and I'm pretty sure would love to see how dead the dead rat really is...

Rather than taking aim at the sampling rate, if anything I'd be more interested in being sure that they'd sampled up to the end of the frequency spectrum that cats can actually hear -- for birds at least the >30kHz part is important.

I'm very confused as to why. According to Finder these have an 8kHz sample rate? How did they find a mic that bad?

Or is it intentional? Is there some scientific usefulness that would make these clips easier for a machine to analyze? I really don't know if there would be, since a higher resolution clip could just be sampled again if you really wanted something lower.

It is very unfortunate, but I'm grateful that someone performed this experiment as ethically as they could think of and made the data available for all to use.

Lol. It's a no-name bluetooth earbud from WalMart that's $16.


Somebody needs to tell the guy who made this YouTube video about this: Alugalug cat x the Kiffness https://youtu.be/S61ENc51Z1Q

Here’s the original that’s being remixed:

I Don't Wanna Be Touched - Meredith Bull FULL SONG OUT NOW https://youtu.be/H3Y-A4Ahkto

Channel: Meredith Bull

Published on May 2, 2021

The file naming pattern is surprising: C_NNNNN_BB_SS_OOOOO_RXX

Why would you place context before, but breed, sex, and owner after the cat id?

In normal wild cats only kittens meow. Domesticated cats will only meow when they are trying to communicate with humans.

Adult domesticated cats will communicate with other cats in many ways:

- with smell, your cat spraying everything is just marking its territory

- hissing or growling, even very small very small cats can be very good at deterring much bigger cats

- when female cats are in heat they make a lot of noise but i don't think that does qualify as meowing

- most cat communication is non-verbal, we probably don't understand much of it

If have listened to several of these sound recordings and they only sample a tiny fraction of cat communications.

(edit: apparently I'm just bad at websites)

What's with the signup requirement to download a dataset like this?

Didn't get any on my end. Using Firefox in the US.

Ditto. Almost. iOS, Firefox, US, no signup

No signup with Chrome, People's Republic of Oceania.

none on safari/macos.

Does a typical speaker capture all the wavelengths that would cause recognition? For some reason my cat only responds to cat vocalizations avidly from the fancy AV equipment.

Cats can hear up to 64k. Recording at 8k is like bad phone quality for a human.

I do kinda want to download those so I can screw with our cats.

The comment sections on those videos are really quite lovely.

That may be harder to automate with a Raspberry Pi

Some birds have regional dialects. Do cats from different parts of the world speak different languages?

Texan cats greet with "meowdy"

The classic homebrew version - http://www.brewery.org/cm3/CatsMeow3.html

Somewhat interesting we could get more collated homebrew recipes in 1997 than real cats meows in 2021

Black Mirror thought: Given the popularity of cats and that things like buzz pollination exist, it would be interesting to see if these sounds affect human behavior in some meaningful way.

Exactly! What else?

This cat is not in the dataset: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7x_lWJNnNg

Yes it is.

The aliens have been visiting for centuries, but they've been in talks with the true overlords: Cats.

Just played a sample of the samples for a congregation of cats residing here.

I got four ignores and one stare of bored contempt.

No meow, I came to get a moody silence and unblinking stare translated, alas...

This project made my day :3

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