TSA Agent Finds Live Cat in Checked Baggage

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

With holiday travel already underway, the Transportation Security Administration revealed one of its agents already discovered an unusual item in a passenger’s luggage. 

A spokesperson from TSA told The New York Post that an orange cat was discovered at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday (November 22nd). An agent discovered the feline after it poked its head out of a suitcase. It was reported that the luggage’s owner was not aware that they had a stowaway. 

Lisa Farbstein, another spokesperson, also tweeted an image of the cat in the luggage. “A TSA officer was shocked to find an orange cat inside a checked bag at JFK Airport after it went through the X-ray unit. Traveler said the cat belonged to someone else in his household. On the bright side, the cat’s out of the bag and safely back home.” 

TSA also sent out a tweet about the incident as a promotional effort. “We’re letting the cat out of the bag on a hiss-toric find. This CATch had our baggage screening officers at JFK Airport 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 Cat Owner Speaks Out About the TSA Experience

Meanwhile, the New York Post went on to confirm that the cat is named “Smells.” The cat’s owner also shared details about the TSA experience. “An officer called and asked if I wanted to press charges. He wanted to know if there was any reason [the luggage’s owner] was trying to steal my cat and go to Florida.” 

The owner also stated that law enforcement was ready to name the luggage owner a “catnapper” and put them on the No Fly list. However, the cat owner objected to that level of insanity. “Our cats really like to check out bags and boxes and apparently one of them climbed into his suitcase. It was just an accident.” 

The owner then stated that the cat was unbothered during the entire situation. “I was worried he’d be freaked out but he wasn’t even meowing on the way back. I went to give him some extra treats and he acted like nothing had happened.” 

According to the TSA website, small pets are allowed through the security checkpoints at airports. However, airlines are individually making decisions on if animals are able to be in carry-on or checked bags. “Please remove your pet from the carrying case and place the case through the X-ray machine,” the website further reads. “You should maintain control of your pet with a leash and remember to remove the leash when carrying your pet through the metal detector. Animal carriers will undergo a visual and/or physical inspection.”