In 2001 declassified CIA documents revealed Operation Acoustic Kitty. The premise – use cats to spy on Soviet embassies and the Kremlin. Launched in 1961, Acoustic Kitty faced considerable challenges – surgically implanting listening devices into a cat’s ear, wiring the tail as an antennae weren’t problematic, training fickle felines to ignore distractions were another matter.
Five years and $20 million tax dollars later, Acoustic Kitty was tasked with eavesdropping on two Soviet agents in a park near the Soviet Embassy on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington D.C. CIA operatives released, then witnessed Acoustic Kitty’s demise when a taxi ran over her. They secured Acoustic Kitty’s remains to prevent Soviet discovery of the mission.
Abandoned in 1967 as “an unadulterated failure”, to this day portions of CIA Acoustic Kitty files remain censored.
Former CIA officer Victor Marchetti 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. Finally, they’re ready. They took it out to a park bench and said, “Listen to those two guys. Don’t listen to anything else – not the birds, no cat or dog – just those two guys!”