A cat was found inside a traveler’s checked luggage at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport last week, the Transportation Security Administration said.
The TSA confirmed its “hiss-toric find” on Twitter Tuesday. In an image shared by the agency, the cat’s outline can be seen in an X-ray of the luggage. Another photo shows a tuft of orange fur peeking out of the suitcase’s zipper.
Spokesperson Lisa Farbstein told USA TODAY Wednesday morning that a TSA officer found the orange cat after the bag “triggered an alarm” while going through the standard X-ray screening for checked luggage on Nov. 16. The officer then saw the surprising X-ray image.
The TSA retrieved the cat, which was alive. The agency notified Delta Airlines, the carrier that the individual was traveling with, and the police, Farbstein said. The traveler was asked if he knew about the cat.
“From the sound of it, this was… unintentional,” Farbstein said, noting the traveler said he was unaware of the cat being in his luggage.
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The traveler told officials the cat belonged to someone else who lived in his household, Farbstein said. She couldn’t update the condition of the cat, but noted it was returned home after leaving JFK airport.
“On the bright side, the cat’s out of the bag and safely back home,” Farbstein wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
She told USA TODAY the traveler, who was traveling from New York with a final destination in Orlando, was “able to rebook his flight for the next day without the cat.”
USA TODAY reached out to Delta Airlines for comment Wednesday morning.
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Both the TSA and Delta provide travelers information about guidelines on traveling with pets on their websites.
The TSA notes that animals should never be put through an airport’s X-ray tunnel. Dogs and cats, for example, can either be screened privately in a separate room or walk with a traveler through the metal detector on a leash, Farbstein said. But an empty pet carrier will still need to go through security’s X-ray to ensure there are no prohibited items.
Each airline’s policy for traveling with animals is different, so check with your carrier before you get to the airport about carry-on policies and/or special shipping options. Different rules apply to certain pets.
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Pets should not be placed in checked luggage. And the cat found at JFK isn’t the first time this has happened. In 2021, for example, a couple traveling to Las Vegas with Southwest Airlines found their pet chihuahua had sneaked into their suitcase.