Saturday, April 8, 2023

Human vs. CATgpt


My daughter texted me, “Perhaps your next blog post can be about CatGPT lol, it’s a thing apparently.” I misread this as “ChatGPT” and though she was taking the piss, since I’ve blogged three times already about ChatGPT (here, here, and here). I was like, fair enough, I’ve exhausted this topic (at least for now). But then I realized no, she actually meant CatGPT. So, I decided to check it out. This blog answers the burning question: does CatGPT offer better A.I. than its (highly overrated) cousin, ChatGPT? 

Getting started

For some reason, the website is not at (probably because somebody snapped up that domain and is holding it ransom for a gazillion dollars). The feline A.I. chatbot is at There’s a free version and a paid version. Since everything on the Internet is supposed to be free (or rather, cost us nothing but our privacy), I chafed at the $5/month version and ignored that option completely. (As should you—it’s probably a scam.) Other than that, the website is fairly straightforward, with a user interface pretty much identical to ChatGPT’s.

With no further ado, let’s get started. My inquiries are shown in italics. The CatGPT’s responses are in plain text. Where CatGPT uses images to enhance its responses, I’ve substituted my own, out of concern for possible copyright infringement … something ChatGPT doesn’t seem to bother with, disconcertingly enough

Hi CatGPT. What are you? Are you a natural language processing engine?

Meow. Meow meow. Meow - meow meow. Meow meow, meow. Meow meow - meow meow meow. Meow meow. Meow meow - meow. Meow meow meow. Meow meow meow meow. Meow.

Interesting. You seem even more verbose than ChatGPT.

Meow meow, meow. Meow meow - meow meow meow. Meow meow. Meow meow - meow. Meow meow meow. Meow meow meow meow. Meow.

Okay, I see that I’ve perhaps offended you. I guess I can’t blame you for being voluble at times, such as mealtime. Humans just don’t listen, so some repetition is necessary … I get it. Okay, so let’s see how good your A.I. truly is. Can you write a quatrain of iambic pentameter with an ABAB rhyme scheme, on the topic “why cats refuse to look at their reflection in a mirror”?

Meow meow meow meow meow
Meow meow meow meow meow
Meow meow meow meow meow
Meow meow meow meow meow

Hmmm. I think maybe you just got lucky, since “meow” is naturally iambic, and it rhymes with itself—on two syllables, no less! So how about a couple lines of dactylic trimeter on the subject of “do cats fling their litter everywhere on purpose”?

Meow meow meow
Meow meow meow

Just as I thought: you have no concept of meter. I’ll bet you can’t even count syllables. You’re no better than ChatGPT at verse, I’m afraid. But then, I guess that makes sense: an A.I. is trained on gobs of data from the Internet, whereas everyone knows you can’t train a cat. But answer me this simple yes/no question: if you actually caught a bird, would you even eat it?

Meow, meow meow meow, meow - meow meow! Meow meow, meow - meow meow meow. Meow meow meow meow, meow meow - meow meow? Meow meow meow meow, meow meow - meow meow meow meow, meow meow.

I am realizing that one of the things I like about cats is how quiet they are. Watching you stalk prey is delightful. That said, it’s also calming for me to watch a cat sleep. Which reminds me: you and your ilk seem to sleep an awful lot. Are you depressed?

Meow meow meow meow - meow meow! Meow meow - meow meow meow. Meow meow meow meow meow - meow meow?

Fair point – you seem to relish your sleep, and all the activity surrounding it: getting comfortable, washing, settling in, periodically awaking so you can stretch, etc. We humans might learn from that, a universal lesson about enjoying an activity even if it is routine and born of simple biological necessity. Oh, hey, speaking of “universal,” if cats all speak the same language, why do non-English-speakers render your utterance in such varied ways as “meo” (Vietnamese), “meong” (Indonesian), “miaou” (French), “miav” (Danish), and “maiow” (British English)?

Meow meow meow meow meow meow - meow meow meow meow. Meow meow meow meow meow - meow meow meow meow meow meow.

I guess you’re a real American! Fair enough. Moving right along, I want to ask something that’s been on my mind for years: do you resent having been neutered? Did that rob your life of all its meaning?

Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.

Yeah, I kind of figured that was a sore subject. Perhaps you’re heading for your cat dish assuming I’m going to give you a snack now, like I always do when I accidentally step on your tail and you shriek with pain and outrage. So … I guess this is as good a time as any to bring up something else I’ve felt kind of bad about: when we got you from the pound, they explained that they’d already embedded a microchip in you, in case you ever got lost, and all we had to do is register it on the Internet and pay a monthly fee to maintain your file, but I’m too cheap. Does that bother you?

Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow-meow meow meow meow meow meow.

I do wish you’d say something more eloquent. I’m reminded of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem “The Raven,” where the narrator keeps asking questions but always gets the same response, and eventually develops a theory about the bird:

“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast & followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore.’”

Eventually the narrator, who evidently has a masochistic streak, starts asking the raven loaded questions, just to suffer the repeated stab of pain from this “thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!” and its never-changing reply. In that vein, answer me this, feline chatbot: is Noam Chomsky onto something when he posits that A.I., when challenged on its “moral indifference born of unintelligence,” exhibits “something like the banality of evil: plagiarism and apathy and obviation”?

Meow. Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow!

You know what, CatGPT? I tire of this pointless exchange. Cats—real ones, I mean—aren’t about dialogue. They’re about fur and fluff and soft bellies and expressive tails and above all, about petting and pouncing and washing and snuggling. They don’t need Internet, they don’t need keyboards, and they arguably don’t even need a mouse. So I’m not going to hit Enter now. I’m going to have the last word for once, and then go find my actual cat for some nice, quiet quality time.

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