Caturday felid trifecta: Turkish cat movie, cool adopt-a-cat ad, and CIA spy cats

In the time I spent in Istanbul, it struck me that although the city is crawling with cats, they were in very good condition for “strays.” It turns out that the locals take care of them, especially in mosques, as cats are considered almost sacred by many Muslims (see the legend of Muhammad’s cat Muezza). According to Variety, a movie about these cats (see trailer below) will be released on February 10 by Oscilloscope Laboratories; it’s been doing the rounds of film festivals for about there years. Here’s the linketo the official Kedi website.

As far as I know, the film’s blurb on YouTube is accurate, at least in the first paragraph:

Hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, the cats of Istanbul live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame –and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could.

Critics and internet cats agree – this cat documentary will charm its way into your heart and home as you fall in love with the cats in Istanbul. This film is a sophisticated take on your typical cat video that will both dazzle and educate.

And here’s the U.S. trailer:

If it doesn’t play at a local theater, you can order a DVD here for $14.99.

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Here’s an aggressive ad, mocking American car commercials, advertising the Furkids animal shelter in Atlanta. Here’s an excerpt from PuffHo‘s article:

The video, titled “Kitty Kommercial,” features native Atlantan Paul Preston trying to get cats adopted like a used car salesman.

Funny bits include a self-cleaning cat, a woman pretending to be one of those wacky waving inflatable tube men you see at dealerships, and a Sarah McLachlan cover at the tail end, which spoofs her British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ads.

A representative from Furkids told The Huffington Post that Preston is not a local comedian or personality, but a contractor with a rental property management company who just happens to be naturally funny. His sister, Helen, who volunteers with Furkids, had the initial idea for the commercial and thought her brother would be p-awesome in it.

The entire video was completely improvised at one of Furkids’ facilities and was shot in about 30 minutes.

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“Acoustic Kitty”, described by both Wikipedia and LiveSciencewas an ill-conceived CIA program that used cats to spy on the Russians, implanting the hapless moggies with listening devices. Here’s the Wikipedia entry:

Acoustic Kitty was a CIA project launched by the Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of Science & Technology, which in the 1960s intended to use cats to spy on the Kremlin and Soviet embassies. In an hour-long procedure a veterinary surgeon implanted a microphone in the cat’s ear canal, a small radio transmitter at the base of its skull and a thin wire into its fur This would allow the cat to innocuously record and transmit sound from its surroundings. Due to problems with distraction, the cat’s sense of hunger had to be addressed in another operation. Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, said Project Acoustic Kitty cost about $20 million.

The first Acoustic Kitty mission was to eavesdrop on two men in a park outside the Soviet compound on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C. The cat was released nearby, but was hit and allegedly killed by a taxi almost immediately. However, this was disputed in 2013 by Robert Wallace, a former Director of the CIA’s Office of Technical Service, who said that the project was abandoned due to the difficulty of training the cat to behave as required, and “the equipment was taken out of the cat; the cat was re-sewn for a second time, and lived a long and happy life afterwards”.[5] Subsequent tests also failed. Shortly thereafter the project was considered a failure and declared to be a total loss.

The project was cancelled in 1967. A closing memorandum said that the CIA researchers believed that they could train cats to move short distances, but that “the environmental and security factors in using this technique in a real foreign situation force us to conclude that for our (intelligence) purposes, it would not be practical.” The project was disclosed in 2001, when some CIA documents were declassified.

You can see the CIA document here, though it’s been redacted. It’s short and I reproduce the whole thing:

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-7-05-22-amscreen-shot-2017-01-10-at-7-05-30-am

 

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Finally, some lagniappe: Here’s the classic progressivist diagram of human evolution—with a twist.

the-evolution-of-man-and-the-evolution-of-cats

h/t: Jon, Malcolm

9 Comments

  1. rickflick
    Posted January 14, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I’m curious if the cats of Istanbul are neutered to keep a stable population. Are they given immunizations for infectious diseases? Are vets involved with their care, or to locals do all the deworming and such?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 14, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      When I was pottering around in Istanbul a year or so ago, I noticed the abundance of cats and stopped to talk to more than a few. While none were obviously in poor nutritional shape, many had very scraggy fur and I suspect a variety of skin complaints.
      I don’t know about veterinary care, but I suspect there’s nothing organised.

  2. Merilee
    Posted January 14, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    What was the CIA thinking??? Herding cats…

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 14, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      What would really get you is to find out how much money they spent on this idea.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted January 14, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        Thinking they could “train” cats – hahaha

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 14, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      What was the CIA? Thinking???

      Fixed obvious typo.
      Didn’t this get discussed a while ago?

  3. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 14, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    The “used cat salesman” skit works pretty well. Props!

  4. Diane G.
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    Just lost any confidence I ever had in the CIA…

  5. CF
    Posted February 16, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    This movie just got a four star review on rogerebert.com

    http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/kedi-2017


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