When the CIA Learned That Cats Make Bad Spies

The most famous cat in spy history is probably the white Persian cat of James Bond movies, but a lesser known cat is one that the CIA tried to turn into a spy. “Operation Acoustic Kitty” was a secret plan to turn cats into portable spying devices. The Acoustic Kitty was a sort of feline-android hybrid — a cyborg cat. A surgeon implanted a microphone in its ear, a radio transmitter at the base of its skull, and wove an antenna into the cat’s fur. CIA operatives hoped they could train the cat to sit near foreign officials, secretly transmitting their conversations back to the U.S. government. Instead, the test cat wandered into the street, where it was promptly hit by a cab. It turned out that the CIA didn’t fully understand that cats aren’t especially trainable. After the test, the CIA came to the conclusion that the program wouldn’t lend itself in a practical sense to their highly specialized needs, and that was the end of Operation Acoustic Kitty.