Try Topic’s new streaming service for free.

Topic Studios produces award-winning film, TV & podcasts, supporting creators at the forefront of culture.

Topic is a First Look Media company

A Field Guide to the Undercover House Cat

You too may be harboring—and grooming, and feeding, and scooping the litter box of—an undercover agent.

So you think your cat’s a spy? It may be covertly working for the Cat Intelligence Agency or the Feline Bureau of Investigation. I have had this problem. Here is how you can tell.

No. 1: The birds and mice it brings in are all mechanical.

My first suspicions arose when I noticed that rather than spewing out half-mulched rodents and broken sparrows like other cats do, Mr. Whiskers was regurgitating wires, USB keys, optical mice, and retracted tweets.


He belched this one up the other day: @IndiaWillieBushJr: If any president decides to grab me, I’m gonna come out scratching #notfakemews

This behavior certainly seemed a little peculiar.

Try our new streaming service for free.
No algorithms. Just the best television + film hand-picked from around the globe.

No. 2: Its night vision is very greeny-glowy.

Cats have great night vision. We’ve all heard that. But I knew something was up one night when giant beams of glowing green light poured out from Mr. Whiskers’s eyes.

I immediately called my vet, but he just assured me it was natural (and not covered by my insurance anyway).

I now sleep with aluminum foil wrapped around my head to stop Mr. Whiskers from looking into my mind.

No. 3: It’s walking upside down.

You’ve seen cats climb trees (and sometimes ask to be carried back down, the little attention seekers), but does your cat pace around on the ceiling above you?

I haven’t trimmed Mr. Whiskers’s claws for a long time (ever), but I get the feeling he’s up to no good. If your cat is doing the same, it’s possible it’s carrying out a deep-surveillance inspection of your activities and—in my case at least—your expanding bald spot.

No. 4: It’s a master of (being a) disguise.

Does your cat like to sit on your head? There’s a guy in my neighborhood who walks around in his dressing gown with a cat on his head. I did suspect that he might be a rival operative, but upon talking to him I realized he’s just very sad and lonely.

Mr. Whiskers, however, appears to be a master of disguise: he becomes a disguise himself, which, I think you’ll agree, is very spy-like behavior. This has proved quite handy, actually—especially when my landlord came by after my rent check bounced. I simply popped Mr. Whiskers on my head and pretended to be a foreign subletter who couldn’t understand the version of English my landlord uses.

No. 5: It engages in communication-blocking.

If Mr. Whiskers isn’t a spy, then why does he constantly try to intercept my emails? Does he figure out all my passwords just by sitting on the keyboard and feeling which keys are still warm?

I do worry that Mr. Whiskers knows a little too much about my activities online, but it’s not like I’m the only one searching daily for updates on what my old friends are up to. If they appear to be more out of shape than I am, or generally more miserable, I award myself a point. If they’re richer, more popular, or happily married, I turn off the laptop and scream into a pillow.

No. 6: It has a checkered family history.

If you still suspect your cat is a spy, I’d suggest looking up its lineage. A family tree can tell you a lot about someone. I recommend the website 23andMeow. Simply send them a fur ball and $200, and they’ll tell you if your cat is the descendant of a broken home (and wild cats).

I can’t be certain that Mr. Whiskers is a spy, but I can tell you I love him very much. Above is a live photo of us from the Easter holidays. I’ve taken to wearing a monocle as a conversation starter. It’s much cooler than having a cat on your head.

Share this story