Catnabbit! TSA Agents Found a Stowaway Cat Hiding in Luggage

The X-ray scan of the stowaway cat.
The X-ray scan of the stowaway cat.

A cat’s attempt to score a free airplane ride was foiled at the last minute by TSA agents earlier this month. The fur-raising tale was publicized Tuesday on social media by the agency, complete with X-ray scans and photos of the cat stowing away in a piece of luggage belonging to its owner’s roommate. Thankfully, the cat was safely returned home with no issues.

According to the TSA, the incident occurred on November 16th at JFK Airport in New York City. The discovery was made after an alarm was set off at the screening station for checked-in luggage. Agents then turned to the X-ray imaging and spotted the presence of an animal in a suitcase. Upon opening up the bag, they were understandably surprised to see an orange cat nestled inside. On Tuesday, the TSA’s official Twitter account recounted the remarkable find, as did TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein.

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“The bag was opened by a TSA officer, who was shocked to see a live orange cat inside,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein told the Washington Post in an email.

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The TSA got in touch with the bag’s owner, who was boarding a Delta Airlines flight to Orlando. He then informed them that the cat belonged to someone else in his household. Unfortunately, the cat’s misadventures meant that the man had to miss his flight. But the cat made it back home and the man was able to rebook and make his flight the next day, Farbstein said.

Pets can legally travel in the cargo hold of an airplane, though it’s mandated that they’re stored in a separate well-ventilated and rigid carrier. Even so, experts and airlines generally recommend that pets be kept close to your side as carry-on luggage since the cargo hold can be stressful and even life-threatening for a pet to experience.

As many a cat owner can tell you, though, cats will sneak into any cramped, warm space they can. And this wasn’t even the first feline trying to bum a free vacation this year either. In August, a local family in Maine detailed the story of their stowaway cat Delilah, who snuck onboard their camper just before they made a road trip to Wisconsin. Unlike the TSA cat, though, Delilah wasn’t found until after the family had already traveled 900 miles to Ohio, so she got to enjoy the entire rest of the trip and became a local celebrity to boot.

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