By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
My cat, Kee-hap, would make a great spy. She's adept in picking up communication subtleties and can hear cans and doors opening from anywhere inside the house. She sneaks up stealthily on birds, bugs and sometimes wild rabbits. Her red and orange tiger stripes will blend beautifully with the fall leaves as early autumn rolls through Colorado.
Quick to endear herself to strangers Kee-hap has joined me for visits with friends in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. She behaves well on busses and makes friends easily. She is a great car companion and has joined me on road trips through Arizona, Utah, California and New Mexico as well as in and around Colorado. In fact, Kee-hap has visited Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Castle Rock. She has yet to experience Boulder, Fort Collins, Steamboat Springs and Aspen but invites are always welcome!
It is unlikely that the private investigator and security field will be a viable option for a cat needing to pass the state required juris prudence exam, however, the idea of a feline private investigator is not a new one. In fact there was a government sanctioned program to turn cats into spies in the 1960s.
This summer marked the 70th anniversary of Harry S Truman signing the National Security Act of 1947, which paved the way for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The agency's plan to turn cats into spies, among other things, was revisited by media for the anniversary and according to Time Magazine's Olivia B. Waxman, the CIA began the "Acoustic Kitty" experiment of trying to trick cats up with espionage gear in the 1960s. The plan was to place to place them in locations where they would gather information.
According to "Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda. The Office of Research and Development figured out a way to implant a three-quarter-inch transmitter in the loose, fleshy part at the back of a cat's neck, and a microphone in the cat's ear canal. A very thin, almost invisible wire connected the two devices. The size of the transmitter meant the device could only hold very small batteries and only had space to record a limited amount of audio. (One attempted solution was to give a cat a transmitter in its rib cage and an antenna in its tail, the ex-CIA agent Victor Marchetti claimed in The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology.)
The experiment fell short when agents got hungry the would wander away from the designated location. As a big part of the appeal was the fact that the would not have to be trained to stay focused once they knew which sounds to identify, the tendency to wander off site proved to be a deal breaker there was no way of communicating the goals and requirements of the mission to them.
You can read more about the experience on Time.com and read the primary documents on the study, which were declassified in 2001, here. And if you are looking for a feline team member, Kee-hap is available for assignments, however, she can only be considered for assignments in those states that do not not require PIs be licensed.
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