Yes. The CIA absolutely tried to spy on Russia WITH CATS.

Have you ever tried to get a cat to do anything?

Of course not.

And how they planned to use the cats for espionage was an even more terrible idea. According to an excerpt from Emily Anthes’s Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts published on i09:

“…In an hour-long procedure, a veterinary surgeon transformed the furry feline into an elite spy, 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. This was Operation Acoustic Kitty…

Photo Credit: did you know?

It’s true. Operation Acoustic Kitty was a Top Secret plan to turn cats into living microphones.

Here’s the actual 1967 memo from the NSA archive at George Washington University, or, rather, what’s left of it after the redactions:

Photo Credit: NSA Archives/GWU 


Subject: [REDACTED] Views on Trained Cats [REDACTED] for [REDACTED] Use.

1: Our final examination of trained cats for …[REDACTED]… use in the …[REDACTED]… convinced us that the program would not lend itself in a practical sense to our highly specialized needs. Repeated checks on the state of training and equipment showed us that it was indeed possible to train …[REDACTED]… locations; we were not able to visualize …[REDACTED]… use for this technique under conditions that prevail …[REDACTED]… .

2: We have satisfied ourselves that it is indeed possible …[REDACTED]… This is in itself a remarkable scientific achievement. Knowing that cats can indeed be trained to move short distances …[REDACTED]… we see no reason to believe that a …[REDACTED]… cat can not be similarly trained to approach…”

Photo Credit: NSA Archives/GWU

“…however, the environmental and security factors in using this technique in a  real foreign situation force us to conclude that, for our …[REDACTED]… purposes, it would not be practical.

3: The work done on this problem over the years reflects great credit on the personnel who guided it, particularly …[REDACTED]…, whose energy and imagination could be models for scientific pioneers.”

So, if you’re having trouble wading through all of that redacted hogwash, it basically says that cats can be trained, but not for what they needed them for at the time.

It then goes on to hail the people who spent upwards of $10 million on the project as geniuses, though their names were redacted…

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