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10 ways animals have served the military

By: Laura Moss on Sept. 17, 2010, 11:20 a.m.
cat hiding in trees

Photo: Yoko Nekonomania/flickr

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Spy cats

During the Cold War, the CIA attempted to transform an ordinary domestic cat into a sophisticated bugging device as part of Operation Acoustic Kitty. The idea was to surgically alter cats so they could eavesdrop on Soviet conversations from park benches and windowsills.

The project began in 1961 when the CIA implanted a battery and a microphone into a cat and turned its tail into an antenna. However, the cat wandered off when it was hungry, a problem that had to be addressed in another operation. Finally, after five years, several surgeries, intensive training and $15 million, the cat was ready for its first field test.

The CIA drove the cat to a Soviet compound on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C. and let it out of a parked van across the street. The cat walked into the road and was immediately hit by a taxi. Operation Acoustic Kitty was declared a failure and completely abandoned in 1967.