CIA tried (and failed) to turn cats into spies

Taylor Bigler Entertainment Editor
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Cats are good at lots of things, like sleeping on windowsills for multiple hours at a time, scratching upholstery and pretending not to know their own names. Cats, however, are not good at being spies.

Back in the 1960’s, the United States government had the bright idea to use cats as intelligence gatherers.

Needless to say, this did not turn out well.

Operation Acoustic Kitty was designed to turn cats into proto-Carrie Mathesons by “implanting a microphone in her ear canal and a small radio transmitter at the base of her skull, and weaving a thin wire antenna into her long gray-and-white fur,” according to a story in Popular Science.

The first time the CIA tested out its new feline spy, the cyborg cat was taken to a park and sent to pick up a conversation between two men. The cat quickly got bored by this game and decided to chase after a taxicab instead, and subsequently flattened by it. That was the end of the first Acoustic Kitty.

Operation Acoustic Kitty was abandoned after the CIA tried it again at least once more. A memo from the time says, “Our final examination of trained cats…convinced us that the program would not lend itself in a practical sense to our highly specialized needs.”

Although this plan did not work 50 years ago, the CIA is attempting to create “insect-cyborgs” to gather information in precarious situations.

While there aren’t fruit flies that can gather intel on al-Qaeda’s whereabouts just yet, scientists have successfully developed tiny, synthetic prototypes. It will take a while before there are actually insect cyborg spies, but it’s only a matter of time.

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Taylor Bigler