Cat's out the bag: airport workers shocked by X-ray discovery

X-ray - Jam Press
X-ray - Jam Press

Airport security workers in New York were shocked when an X-ray scanner revealed a stowaway cat hidden in a suitcase.

The ginger cat was discovered at John F Kennedy International Airport last week, after an agent spotted a tuft of orange fur poking out of the zip of the bag.

The agents believe they may have saved the life of the animal, which nearly ended up in an inhospitable cargo hold.

Lisa Farbstein, a public affairs officer for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), recounted the agent's unusual find in an anecdote posted to Twitter on Tuesday.

"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," Ms Farbstein wrote.

An agent spotted a tuft of orange fur poking out of the zip of the bag - Jam Press
An agent spotted a tuft of orange fur poking out of the zip of the bag - Jam Press

She claimed the traveller, who was heading to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday, said the cat "belonged to someone else in his household".

When tracked down by The New York Post, the cat’s owner said the animal, named Smells, must have crawled into their house guest’s bag while she was at work.

She did not realise the tabby was missing until she got a call from an airport official.

“An officer called and asked if I wanted to press charges” against her guest, said 37-year-old Brooklyn resident Alix, who declined to give her surname. “He wanted to know if there was any reason he was trying to steal my cat and go to Florida.”

Smells seemed unfazed by the ordeal and even enjoyed treats on his way back home, she said.

Ms 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.

Most American airlines allow cats and dogs to fly with their owners in the main cabin, providing they meet the size, age and destination requirements within the USA on flights up to 12 hours.

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, found a gun stashed inside a raw chicken packed into the luggage.