Tag Archives | Cats

The CIA’s Secret Project To Turn Cats Into Spies

History’s earliest animal cyborgs? In the 1960s the CIA implanted cats with technological devices to turn them into living surveillance machines, io9 reveals:

In an hour-long procedure, a veterinary surgeon implanted a microphone into the furry feline’s ear canal and a small radio transmitter at the base of her skull, and weaving a thin wire antenna into her long gray-and-white fur. This was top-secret Operation Acoustic Kitty. The leaders of the project hoped that by training the feline to go sit near foreign officials, they could eavesdrop on private conversations.

The problem was that cats are not especially trainable, and the program was abandoned; as a heavily redacted CIA memo from the time delicately phrased it, “Our final examination of trained cats…convinced us that the program would not lend itself in a practical sense to our highly specialized needs.”

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Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats

Beagle and sleeping black and white kitty-01Continuing the media assault on cats, the Wall Street Journal says that canines outsmart felines:

With half as many neurons in their cerebral cortex as cats—and half the attitude, some would say—dogs are often taken to be the less intelligent domestic partner. While dogs drink out of the toilet, slavishly follow their master and need a chaperone to relieve themselves, cats hunt self-sufficiently and survey their empire with a regal gaze.

But cats beware. Research in recent years has finally revealed the genius of dogs.

Like other language-trained animals—dolphins, parrots, bonobos—dogs can learn to respond to hundreds of spoken signals associated with different objects. What sets dogs apart is how they learn these words.

If you show a child a red block and a green block, and then ask for the chromium block, not the red block, most children will give you the green block, despite not knowing that the word “chromium” can refer to a shade of green.

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Why Cats Should Be Killed

Feral cat Virginia cropHide your cats, feline fanciers, there’s a backlash against the mass killings by the furry creatures. Hannah Waters makes the case at Scientific American:

Every few months, the fact that domestic cats are ruthless killers hits the news. This past summer it was the Kitty Cam, memorably explained by webcomic The Oatmeal, which saw nearly one-third of cats kill 2 animals each week on average. In 2011 a study found that domestic cats were responsible for nearly half of predation on baby gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis), a shy bird common in the mid-Atlantic and named for its cat-like call. And this morning, Nature Communications published a large analysis estimating how many animals are killed by cats annually in the US: 1.4-3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals each year (1).

Let me repeat: every year BILLIONS of birds and mammals are killed by free-ranging domestic house cats, Felix catus.

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Cat Leads Owner to Lost Roman Tomb


An Italian cat owner got the surprise of his life when his runaway pet managed to slip into a previously-hidden grotto. The owner, Mirko Curti, followed the sounds of the kitty’s yowling into an lost Roman tomb full of bones and urns:

The tomb was discovered just outside a residential area in the Roman city of Via di Pietralata.

Archeologists who were called to the site have speculated that it dates back to sometime between the 1st century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D.

With all of those bones, Curti was lucky he wasn’t chasing a dog…

Read more at Yahoo.com.

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William S. Burroughs, Cat Fancier

William S. Burroughs loved his cats. The outlaw author known for his unabashed avant-sexual space operas and hyper-spatial exploratory prose wasn’t one to apologize for his utter disgust over a society he saw crumbling under the iron claws of Control. However, behind the icy eyed visage of ‘El Hombre Invisible’ was a heart warmed with the gentle purrs of his coveted feline companions.

As Yony Leyser, director of the critically acclaimed bio-pic Williams S. Burroughs: A Man Within, discusses in an article for Vice, understanding Burroughs’ cats is central to understanding the man behind the myth:

“Author William S. Burroughs made his love for all things feline known in his book The Cat Inside, in which he refers to cats as “psychic companions” and innate “enemies of the state.” In his final journal entry, written just before he died, Burroughs discusses love as the ultimate cure-all. I feature the quote in my documentary William S.

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iPad Painting App For Cats Unveiled

Most of the pet-oriented phone apps have been dismal as one would expect (chasing a virtual mouse bouncing across the screen, et cetera), but Paint for Cats should be cherished for allowing the expression of nonhuman creativity. Art of the future should not be restricted to humans. Metro UK writes:

A ball of string used to keep cats entertained – but it seems an iPad is more appealing to the our feline friends these days after a US company opted to develop some new tablet Apps specifically for them.

The app [Paint for Cats] makes a colourful paw imprint when a cat touches the screen. It was recently tested at an animal shelter where it received a positive response, with bigger cats such as lions and tigers even taking to it.

Creator TJ Fuller said: ‘I had seen so many YouTube videos of cats playing with iPads but of course they were playing games designed for humans… I would love to do a game for dogs but they generally don’t react to that sort of stimuli like cats do.

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Google’s Virtual Brain Goes On YouTube And Looks For Cat Videos

Kaibara87 (CC)

Sounds like Google’s virtual “brain” consisting of 16,000 networked computers does a pretty good job of enjoying the same dumb stuff that humans do. John Markoff reports for the Sydney Morning Herald:

Inside Google’s secretive X laboratory, known for inventing self-driving cars and augmented reality glasses, a small group of researchers began working several years ago on a simulation of the human brain.

There Google scientists created one of the largest neural networks for machine learning by connecting 16,000 computer processors, which they turned loose on the internet to learn on its own.

Presented with 10 million digital images found in YouTube videos, what did Google’s brain do? What millions of humans do with YouTube: looked for cats.

The neural network taught itself to recognise cats, which is actually no frivolous activity. This week the researchers will present the results of their work at a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Dead Cat Turned Into Remote-Control Flying Helicopter

I can't see how cats would be happy about this development ... Writes Deborah Netburn in the LA Times:
We've seen a lot of strange things on the Internet, but this dead cat turned into a remote-control flying helicopter may be the strangest yet. The cat helicopter was conceived by Dutch artist Bart Jansen, and debuted for the public at the KunstRai ArtFair in Amsterdam that ended Sunday. Jansen calls his creation the Orvillecopter and describes it as "half-cat, half-machine." The Orvillecopter is exactly what it looks like: A taxidermied cat with a plastic propeller attached to each paw. No animals were harmed for this project. The cat, who was conveniently named Orville, belonged to Jansen and died after he was hit by a car.
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