20 MILLION DOLLARS KILLED BY A TAXI ‘ A STORY ABOUT THE FAILED CIA CAT SPY PROJECT

The CIA has spent more than 20 million dollars for this spy project in the 1960s. It was to be a spy cat with a camouflaged listening bug. Preparations for the procedure to implant a listening device in a cat took a few years but the animal hasn‘t been given the alleged nine lives.

If a cat was a listening bug or a spy (and a disciplined one‘) with a built-in voice recorder and a minicam its biggest advantage would be not only long working time (expanding to the aforementioned nine lives) but also standby mode (up to 20 hours a day) with very high sound sensitivity, even the ones not audible to humans.

Other pluses include built-in night-vision device and agile movements in the darkness despite many obstacles. When talking about obstacles, it‘s worth mentioning the surveillance in hardly accessible places as a cat may easily hide in a box, vase, slide under a gate or fit into a door flap.

It would have a pretty easy access to a computer, just casually sneak on a keyboard and look at the screen (there would be no chance, however, to log every key stroke like it can be done with a Spylloger).

In the last century the American Central Intelligence Agency had big plans concerning another feature of the spy cat: raising no suspicions, as who would pay attention to a nearby cat theoretically minding its own business?

A cat was supposed to become a unique, mobile listening device.

But the inventors haven‘t taken into account the most inherent feature of the felines ‘ their individuality. The project was a failure due to their disobedient nature.

But 50 years later in a TV series ‘The World‘s Weirdest Weapons‘ Robert Wallace said that the cat was naughty during initial training and it was then decided to shut the project down.

The surgeons were to open the cat again, take all equipment out, re-sew it and let it have a long and happy life. Unfortunately, the story had a different ending.

HOW DID THE ACOUSTIC KITTY PROJECT COME INTO LIFE?

In the initial plan the spy cat was to unnoticeably listen in on the Soviets spending time in Washington, for example in their embassies.

Recording voice and transmitting it was supposed to be possible thanks to a microphone hidden in the cat‘s ear canal, a radio transmitter at the base of its skull (some sources claim it was in the abdomen) and a thin antenna in its fur. As commented by Victor Marchetti, a former special assistant to the Deputy Director of the CIA in the 60s:

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.

Such armed spy cat was to carelessly wander around surveilled persons, but its creator hadn‘t accounted for the feline nature and thought that it can be trained like a dog to be totally obedient and set the spying missions as its priority.

TRAGEDY ON FOUR PAWS AND UNDER FOUR WHEELS

As cats go their own way, the first bugged cat spy sent for a mission didn‘t follow the official orders.

Its first mission was to listen in on a conversation of two men in front of the Soviet compound on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C. Excited CIA team was hiding nearby in a van.

The Acoustic Kitty was to cross the street to get close to the talking men. It managed to cover about 300 meters. But then it was mercilessly run over by a taxi. And that was a very sad ending.

The project lost its financing. The reason for that was not another possibly deadly tests conducted on animals or experimenting with new implants but money already invested in this unlucky project.

20 million dollars were basically killed by a taxi.

SPY CAT VS. SPY DOG

The revealed report contained however also praises for the Acoustic Kitty! It was appreciated as a significant scientific venture that managed to successfully conduct the theoretical part i.e. insert a spying system in a cat. The failure in the practical part was attributed to insubordination of the spy cat and the project was deemed as unpractical, especially for the highly specialized needs of the CIA.

Did any of the scientists engaged in the project have a thought that a cat is actually not a good candidate for a spy? Surely cat lovers would say that judging their intelligence by whether they obediently follow all orders in exchange for a head stroke or a snack is not fair.

Would a dog be a better spy pet? As a matter of fact, in the 1966 a British comedy was released, which was a parody of the film spy ‘Spy With a Cold Nose‘, about a dog with a listening device that was to follow the Russians, coincidence?

Spy bulldog was to be a present for a Soviet minister, but that mission was up in the air when, already in the hands of the Russian, the dog got sick. A British agent had to collaborate with a vet to save it before the spy gear would be detected.

Will the dog have more luck than Acoustic Kitty? See for yourself.

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