news mews from the world of SCIENCE: A team of researchers at Lund University in Sweden are working to erase the human-cat communication barrier!
Here's How You'll Soon Be Able To Speak With Your Cat
Which means that someday you'll be able to ask little Snowball what she wants for dinner (LOL, tuna, of course), watch on Netflix (To Kill A Mockingbird, likely), or why she puked all over your favorite pillow.
Dubbed Meowsic, or Melody in Human-Cat Communication, the two-part phonetic study hopes to explore the relationship between "voice, intonation, and speaking style" in both "human speech as well as in cat vocalizations".
And the team of veterinarians, zoologists, and linguists driving the project have set an ambitious timeline for bringing their findings to the real world: five years, which, it should be noted, is five years faster than Amazon's stated, decade-long goal for developing a pet translator (the future is going to be SO COOL, assuming the world doesn't implode in a ball of smoke and flame before we get there).
While this all sounds like an eye-rolling plot point in a trashy B-movie on the Syfy channel, the lead researcher, Susanne Schötz, an Assistant Professor of Phonetics, tells Now To Love that "it seems that cats can vary the intonation or melody consciously, perhaps to convey a certain message or increase the urgency of a message or to convey emotion."
"I have found with my cats they have a different sound in their melody when they are sad compared to when they are happy," she added.
In other words, they might know when we're mad or frustrated with them — and vice versa. Ditto for the cooing baby talk that all cat lovers — myself included — are known to lapse into.
The implications for life on Earth could be even more profound and transformative.
As the project's About page notes, decoding the vocal strategies used by humans and cats in cross-species communication "has the potential to improve the relations between animals and humans within several fields, including animal therapy, veterinary medicine, and animal sheltering."
Or at the very least get an answer about that pillow.
While we have to wait for the team to complete its work before we know more, they've already posted a handy taxonomy of cat vocalizations, along with examples of each in video form.
Here's Donna, a domestic cat purring contentedly.
The same kitteh, only more demanding (~someone~ wants cuddles).
And for comparison's sake, a purring cheetah (OMG!).
Do you talk to your cat? Tell us about it in the comments below!