Esther the Cold War Kitty

Today we look back at the apocryphal story of Esther the Cold War Kitty (from the Sept/Oct 2004 special Cats issue of the Annals of Improbable Research). First, a bit of introduction:

The book Esther the Cold War Kitty is legendary. Written at the height of the Cold War, it was intended as propaganda for children in the West. Some historians suggest that the book was written by Soviet agents intending that the West would publish it and then suffer public embarrassment. Other historians dismiss this latter view as nonsense. For reasons that have not yet been made public, the book was never published. The true identity of the author has never been revealed.We have obtained a copy — one of the three copies known to be in existence — of the book. As a public service, in this issue of the Annals of Improbable Research, we present three of its chapters: “Esther the Cold War Kitty,” “Esther and the Gear Factory,” and “Esther and the Oil Field….

Here is one of the secret photos Esther took when she and Joseph Stalin visited a gear factory:

And now, the beginning of Esther the Cold War Kitty:

The cat’s out of the bag — almost literally — now that the U.S. and Russia have declassified some of their cold-war spy reports. But until now, nobody has reported on the littlest, the warmest, the cuddliest, the most technologically surprising secret of them all. It is time for the world to know about Esther, the Cold War kitty.

Esther was the West’s secret weapon. With her Minox subminiature camera, she kept an eye on the skulkings and plottings of the Soviet leadership. Josef Stalin, his successor Khrushchev, and the entire leadership of the KGB spy organization loved Esther. They treated her as an honored and pampered guest. They never suspected that the lovable, furry kitty-cat was a subminiature techno spy.

Esther’s story is unlike any other. She was an ordinary cat, living an ordinary life, until one morning in 1947. Suddenly, through no fault of her own, Esther found herself on an airplane to Vienna….