From the Bay of Pigs fiasco to the tall tale of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction," the CIA is no stranger to expensive and embarrassing blunders. One such blunder occurred in the '60s and was known as Operation Acoustic Kitty, a real-life program to train a house cat to become a super-secret spy. Unfortunately, even the most deranged cat hoarder knows cats are un-trainable, a bit of info the CIA, despite their vast knowledge, failed to realize. Cats, who rarely listen to anybody, would rather be jerks than the next Puss 'N Boots.
The FBI cat initiative, which sought to implant a microphone and radio transmitter in man's best acquaintance, had some issues. Mainly it was brutally invasive for the little critters and the cat just didn't give a rat's booty (actually if it had to do with a rat, the cat might be more inclined). In the end, the CIA cat spy, instead of becoming one of history's most celebrated felines, had her career cut short during her first trial run.
At the height of the Cold War, the CIA tried anything to keep tabs on Russians in Washington, D.C. One of their most absurd ideas was to use a cat to eavesdrop on the Kremlin's private conversations. Wired up with radio transmitters and microphones, the cat would listen to secret conversations from window sills, park benches, or any unsuspecting place for a cat. Perhaps the CIA thought that Russians, like Bond villains, spilled out all of their nefarious secrets to their feline friends.
Most cat owners never put $10 into training a cat because even they know it's a losing battle. But the CIA, with millions of your taxes at their disposal, poured a whopping $10 million into this scheme. These costs went towards developing the equipment implanted in the cat, operations (vets aren't cheap), and training the little feline to cooperate.
The Cold War kitty needed technology to aid it in collecting Russian secrets, and the CIA implanted this technology underneath its skin. The details of this cat-astrophically expensive program came to light in a book by Victor Marchetti, a CIA officer during the Cold War. In his book, The Wizards of Langley, Marchetti wrote, “They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up, The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity.”
If this happened today, it would also have made a great movie.
Cats lead most of their lives by instinct. During testing and training, the cat wandered off when it got hungry (everyone deserves a lunch break, even spy kitties). To combat this, they loaded the cat up with even more wires. How exactly further mechanizing the cat would make him more cooperative remains a question only the CIA can answer. Well actually, history can answer, because in the end this project failed.
Marchetti told The Telegraph about the experiment process: "They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that."
Quick! Tell the diet industry the CIA knows the secret to surpressing your appetite!