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Back in the 1960s, the CIA had this wild idea called Acoustic Kitty. They wanted to turn cats into undercover spies to eavesdrop on the Kremlin and Soviet embassies. It was a super-secret project by the Directorate of Science & Technology.

They called it “Operation Acoustic Kitty.” The plan sounded cool, but it didn’t go as planned. They only made one Acoustic Kitty before calling it quits. Why? Because things went really, really wrong during a test with this cat.

Project Acoustic Kitty was a massive undertaking by the CIA’s Office of Technical Research and Office of Research and Development. They poured five years and around $20 million into this project, as reported by Mental Floss. The hefty price tag was because it was incredibly challenging from a technical standpoint.

Back in those days, there were no microchips or digital gadgets like we have today. So, the CIA scientists had to get creative. They had to figure out how to outfit a cat with a microphone, antenna, transmitter, and a battery, all without attracting too much attention.

After lots of trial and error, they came up with a plan. They implanted a tiny transmitter, about 3/4 of an inch long, at the base of the cat’s skull. Then, they stitched a microphone into its ear canal and wove an antenna into the fur of the cat’s tail. It was quite a feat of engineering, considering the technology available at the time.
The fate of Acoustic Kitty was grim. Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, described the project as a huge waste of money. They surgically implanted batteries and wires into the cat, turning it into what Marchetti called a “monstrosity.” Sadly, the cat didn’t survive the experiment.

The CIA team, perhaps unfamiliar with cat behavior, struggled to train Acoustic Kitty. They even tried implanting wires to control its hunger, but nothing seemed to work. Eventually, they deemed the cat ready for a field test.

The scene was straight out of a spy movie: the CIA operatives released Acoustic Kitty into a park to eavesdrop on a conversation. But their plan was foiled when a taxi accidentally ran over the poor cat. Marchetti recalled the absurdity of the situation, with the operatives stuck in the van surrounded by equipment while their feline spy lay dead on the ground.

With the death of Acoustic Kitty, “Project Acoustic Kitty” was scrapped. Despite the $20 million failure, the CIA remained oddly positive about the experiment in their documents, which were heavily censored.

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