Cats aren’t known for being easy to influence — which is why it’s weird that the CIA floated the idea of using them as spies.

According to the Royal Examiner, when the CIA wasn’t busy dosing unsuspecting people with LSD, it was working on a way to turn an everyday housecat into 007. “In the early 1960s, the CIA spent around $20 million on ‘Project Acoustic Kitty,’ rigging a poor cat with a radio antenna in its tail, a microphone hidden in its ears and a transmitter installed at the base of the skull.”

Here’s what the plan looked like:

CIA project from the 1960s to spy on Russia.
byu/maazkazi ininterestingasfuck

In theory, there’s at least a little bit of sense to this idea. Cats are generally not suspicious creatures, and while a random dog coming up to a group of people might inspire attention, a cat strolling by a pair of spies would likely do little beyond raising an eyebrow.

In practice, however, the idea was terrible. Cats don’t follow directions well, and more importantly, they’re pretty stupid; the latter point ended up being the downfall of the whole project. “During an early trial deployment, the CIA released the spy cat from an unmarked van and directed it to spy on two people in the park,” reads the Royal Examiner piece. “Tragically, the spy cat was struck and killed by a taxi while crossing the road.”

That was the only Acoustic Kitty the agency ever produced, according to the History Channel. Twenty million dollars well spent!

That said, this wasn’t the only time that the CIA tried to turn animals into spies. The agency once tried to train spy dolphins and once made a robotic catfish capable of collecting signals sent underwater.

Now, most animal trials have ended — likely because all the agency has to do is tap into our cell phones. Progress!