Small pets can be perfectly good air travel companions, provided their owners follow the rules. For example, most airlines require animals to remain in carriers throughout the duration of their flights — and none allow them to fly as carry-on cargo.
So, when a Transportation Security Administration officer recently spotted a cat inside one traveler's luggage as it passed through the security scanner at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, the agent was "shocked," the TSA said on Tuesday.
Lisa Farbstein, a public affairs officer for TSA, recounted the agent's unusual find in an anecdote posted to Twitter. It accompanied a photo of a dark suitcase that was not completely zipped shut. Peeking out from opening were orange hairs that, Farbstein explained, belonged to the pet that was ultimately discovered inside.
"A @TSA officer was shocked to find an orange cat inside a checked bag at @JFKairport after it went through the X-ray unit," Farbstein wrote, adding that the traveler said the cat "belonged to someone else in his household."
Farbstein's tweet concluded with a pun to confirm the cat was unharmed and at home.
"On the bright side, the cat's out of the bag and safely back home," it said.
Later, the official TSA Twitter account posted two additional photos from the unlikely animal encounter. One showed the JFK Airport agent pulling open the suitcase to find a furry creature curled up along one edge. The other was a still taken from the X-ray machine, where a cat's bright red silhouette is clearly visible inside the luggage.
"This CATch had our baggage screening officers @JFKairport saying, 'Come on, meow!'" the account tweeted.
A cat seen on X-ray machines is not the most outrageous find that TSA officers have reported recently. Earlier this month, an officer stationed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport flagged a carry-on bag at the security station and, upon further inspection,packed into the luggage.
Otherby TSA officers across the country include a chainsaw confiscated in New Orleans, a "meth burrito" confiscated in Houston, and a deodorant container full of bullets confiscated in New Jersey.
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