Catterbox: A mew breakthrough

Catterbox: A mew breakthrough

The Catterbox cat collar promised to translate feline sounds into human speech. It did not, however, promise that every tomcat, Dick and Harry would get to use it.

That feeling when you're trying to divulge the secrets of the cosmos and the cure for cancer at 3 a.m. and your simpleton owner hushes you because he thinks you're only yowling for food. Sigh. (Shutterstock.com)Sometimes, you come across news that leads you to suspect someone has secretly read your diary and made your deepest, most heartfelt desires a reality. This describes how I felt when I heard that a crepe truck was going to start serving sweet and savory treats mere blocks from my doorstep. It also nails my reaction to an article in The New York Times about the Catterbox. 

The Catterbox, a cat collar that translates meows into English, is the brainchild of The Temptations Lab, a group whose stated aim is to “inject some serious fun into cats’ lives” (though one could imagine it serves the slightly more straightforward goal of promoting Mars Petcare’s Temptations cat treats as well). 

The Temptations Lab worked with London-based ad agency adam&eveDDB on a series of Catterbox commercials you can view at catterbox.com, which left ailurophiles across the world wondering—nay, demanding—how on earth they could get their paws on their very own Catterbox.

But, alas, they could not.

You see, according to The New York Times piece, while adam&eveDDB did commission Acne, a research and design firm, to create a real Catterbox collar, only about 50 prototypes were made, and distribution was limited to New Zealand. It’s a cruel, cruel world.

The Catterbox collar doesn’t take itself too seriously, but that doesn’t mean it lacks serious science. Acne spent six months researching the noises cats make and their context. The firm then used voice recognition software to translate these noises into various eloquent phrases you can easily imagine your cat saying, such as, “No, no and no.” The hardware was made small enough to fit inside a 3D-printed collar that came in four fashionable colors.

If I can offer any salve to soothe this dream deferred, it’s this: The world (myself included) is still waiting for a collar that can translate pet sounds into people sounds. Perhaps you will be the person to give the crazy dog and cat people what they so desperately want (and will pay handsomely for).