Next time your cat sidles up to you for an afternoon nap, it may actually be trying to steal your secrets – that is at least what the CIA in the 1960s was hoping felines would do after being turned into four-legged spies.
As part of a clandestine experiment appropriately dubbed Operation Acoustic Kitty, a veterinary surgeon implanted a microchip in the ear canal of a cat and a small radio transmitter at the base of the animal’s skull, hiding a wire antenna in his long grey-and-white hair.
The plan was to use the furry feline as a four-legged secret agent who would be able to discreetly eavesdrop on Soviet officials and record their private conversations simply by sitting nearby.
But the leaders of the project quickly learned what neatly every cat owner knows: unlike dogs, most felines do not follow orders and are not easily trained.
The failed experiment is detailed in a new book called Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts, excepts from which appeared in Popular Science.
The author, Emily Anthes, writes that CIA officials got the project off the background by driving their newly minted furry James Bond to a park and tasked it with recording a conversation between two men sitting on a bench.
But the ill-fated feline immediately failed the test by running into the street, where it was promptly run over by a cab.
In the aftermath of the disastrous experiment, Operation Acoustic Kitty was scrapped after the government had allegedly spent $20 million to turn the tragic pussycat into a world-class information gatherer.