Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport discovered a furry surprise while scanning baggage recently — a feline stowaway in a suitcase.
TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said that on November 16 the cat was discovered after an alarm went off at the checked baggage screening point for a bag headed to Florida.
The outline of a cat clearly stood out on the X-ray image of the luggage.
TSA agents retrieved the bag and noticed tufts of orange fur emerging from the slightly ajar zipper.
“The bag was opened by a TSA officer, who was shocked to see a live orange cat inside,” Farbstein said in an email to the Associated Press.
Thankfully, the feline was unharmed.
According to Farbstein, the Orlando-bound traveler was not aware there was a cat in his luggage.
TSA agents contacted Delta Airlines, who then contacted the passenger to inform him of the cat, and requested him to return to the ticket counter.
“The traveler said that the cat belonged to someone else in the household, implying that he was not aware that the cat was in the suitcase,” Farbstein said.
The cat was safely returned home, but the passenger missed his flight. He rebooked for the next day, according to the TSA.
The incident was a first for JFK’s TSA agents.
“We’re letting the cat out of the bag on a hiss-toric find. This CATch had our baggage screening officers @JFKairport saying, “Come on meow”! Feline like you have travel questions reach out to our furiends @AskTSA. They’re available every day, from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (ET),” the agency playfully tweeted after the incident.
The New York Post later reached out to the cat’s owner, who said “Smells” must have crawled into her visiting friend’s suitcase. She was not aware that her cat was missing until airport officials contacted her, and it’s not clear how the passenger was able to pack his items away without noticing the cat.
A similar incident occurred in October 2021 at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport in Texas, when Southwest Airlines informed a couple that their luggage was overweight. When the couple unpacked their bag to avoid a fee, they discovered their 5-pound chihuahua hiding inside a cowboy boot.