I’ve just read several articles on a failed CIA program to use cats for spying. Se-ri-ous.
Over several years in the 1960s they:
- Surgically implanted cats with radio transmitters, batteries and recording equipment
- Trained the cats to stay close to subjects (this was unsurprisingly tricky)
During the first field test a cat was released to eavesdrop on men at a park bench. Almost immediately after being released the cat was hit by a taxi and killed! Shortly afterwards the whole program was abandoned.
As hilarious and improbable as this sounds it appears to be true. It has been very widely reported, there are official documents from the CIA, and the CIA certainly did do some weird things.
There is some good debate on the subject in the comments section of this excellent article on Acoustic Kitty.
One of the most plausible alternate explanations is that the CIA set this up as a dummy operation and channeled the funds into something else.