Like many cats, 10-year-old Teddy Bear has a quirk that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to the human mind. This silly boy eats plastic. And it drives his mom mad with worry.
So, being an experienced software engineer and devoted cat mom, Estefannie took 50,000 pictures of litter pan deposits and built a complex system to monitor Teddy’s poops to be sure he wasn’t getting blockages from his poor choice of snacks. And to help other tech-minded cat lovers keep an eye on the litter pan, she captured her process on video and shared it via YouTube.
Crazy Cat Antics Lead to Scare & Inspiration
A couple of years ago, Estefannie caught Teddy eating plastic. Knowing how bad that could be, she rushed her sweet boy to the vet. The options were few on what to do without knowing how much plastic Teddy had wolfed down. For $3,000, Teddy could be prodded, poked, and scanned to find out, or Estefannie could watch to be sure Teddy went potty because, as she shared in her video, “If he poops, then there’s no plastic stuck in his intestines.”
But cats can be sly about their pooping and will be in and out of their litter boxes before we even realize it. So, Estefannie turned to tech to help her keep an eye on plastic-eating Teddy.
As Estefannie explained, “I wrote a python script set up a camera a motion sensor and put it above his litter box to take a picture every time he went to the bathroom that way I could see if he was constipated or not.”
Now, she could monitor all the poops and pees. Yet, there was a rub. Estefannie’s other cat, Luna, was skewing the Teddy data as the pair share a litter box. This left Estefannie not knowing whose poo was whose.
“Why I Took 50,000 Pictures of My Cats Pooping”
But no problem, being a brilliant problem solver, Estefannie went to work creating an elaborate setup to collect her data and learn what pile belonged to Teddy and which was Luna’s deposit. Her program also needed to understand the difference between urine and feces, so Estefannie delved into the deep workings of machine learning.
“With machine learning, I did a lot of research and found I need to take a whole bunch of pictures,” said Estefannie. “Luckily, I already have a picture-taking script that can take several pictures a second.”
But before she could start scooping up data, she had to construct a setup to house the equipment. In the end, Teddy Bear got a bathroom overhaul, complete with a handcrafted cabinet and a “cute grass mat for his paws.”
With the physical setup neatly in place, Estefannie fed the pictures into a machine learning system and spent countless hours tweaking and tuning her poop AI. But after two years of staring at a litter box, Estefannie proudly presented her creation to the world and secured the deeper affection she sought from Teddy Bear. After all, Teddy realized that any human that goes to so much trouble for cat poop is certainly alright by him!
To learn the entirety of Estefannie’s specs, check out her process in the video below!
Featured Image: @estefanniegg/Instagram