Did the creativity never end?!
In the mid-1960’s, the CIA recruited a number of housecats as their latest agents. The transistor was becoming more and more capable and all the science & electronic magazines of the day praised the miniaturization it had created in just a few short years.
Intelligence agencies of the world’s major players in that field were steadily incorporating the latest state of the art electronics to assist them in their intel gathering efforts – and the CIA had an innovative plan. A plan that failed miserably.
Operation Acoustic Kitty involved a veterinarian with a Top Secret clearance, a microphone, a transmitter/antenna, several cats and $20,000,000.
The end result of surgery resulted in a transmitter at the base of the cat’s skull, a mic in one of the ears (where else!) and a thin wire antenna woven into the cat’s fur. In later versions, the antenna was embedded internally into the cat’s tail.
In Acoustic Kitty’s first mission, the cat was assigned to go sit near two men on a park bench outside the Soviet compound in Washington, DC. What happened next depends on who you believe…either the cat got hit by a taxi enroute to the bench:
According to Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, Project Acoustic Kitty was a gruesome creation. He said: “They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. 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.”
Mr Marchetti said that the first live trial was an expensive disaster. The technology is thought to have cost more than $20 million. He said: “They took it out to a park and put him out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was dead.
Or it ignored its mission altogether, had its electronics removed and lived happily ever after.
Regardless, the mission was a failure and by 1967 the project was cancelled.
FYI: Acoustic Kitty was a real CIA operation. The following is not:-)