TSA Baggage Scan Reveals Kitty Stowaway In Luggage

It was a tuft of orange hair poking out from the zipper of a carry-on suitcase that first alerted a TSA agent that something weird was going on.

The agent, who was processing a traveler departing from New York’s JFK airport on Tuesday morning, then consulted an x-ray scan, confirming the suitcase contained some unusual cargo — a ginger tabby cat tucked in among toiletries, snug and napping comfortably in the enclosed space.

X-Ray TSA scan
An x-ray scan revealed Smells tucked snugly into the suitcase. Credit: TSA
The incriminatory tuft of orange hair that gave away Smells’ hiding spot. Credit: TSA

As for the traveler, the cat didn’t belong to him, nor was he aware kitty had climbed inside. It turned out he had been a house guest of friends living in Brooklyn, and the cat named Smells had slipped into the luggage before he left for home, for what is a suitcase if not just another box?

The TSA confirmed the story with the cat’s owner before letting the traveler board his Florida-bound flight.

“An officer called and asked if I wanted to press charges” said Alix, Smells’ 37-year-old human. “He wanted to know if there was any reason [the passenger] was trying to steal my cat and go to Florida.”

Smells the Cat
A TSA security agent opens the suitcase to reveal its unauthorized would-be stowaway. Credit: TSA

After Alix assured the TSA agent that Smells “really likes to check out boxes” and definitely would have climbed in on his own, she hired a driver to retrieve the kitty, who was unperturbed by the adventure.

“I was worried he’d be freaked out but he wasn’t even meowing on the way back,” Alix told the New York Post. “I went to give him some extra treats and he acted like nothing had happened.”

As for the TSA — which often deals with more serious finds like guns and drugs secreted into passengers’ luggage — the saga of Smells was a welcome change that gave them a good story and some laughs.

“On the bright side,” TSA spokesman Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter, “the cat’s out of the bag and safely back home.”

Smells the Cat
Smells the cat. Credit: His humans
“I was worried he’d be freaked out but he wasn’t even meowing on the way back,” she said. “I went to give him some extra treats and he acted like nothing had happened.”

8 thoughts on “TSA Baggage Scan Reveals Kitty Stowaway In Luggage”

    1. It’s a good reminder about how sneaky and silent they can be. Sometimes, remembering his tendency to “teleport” and his ability to sneak past me undetected, I get an odd sort of intuition to double check that Buddy’s still inside whenever I’m leaving. I feel kind of ridiculous going back, opening the door and making sure, but stories like this show why it’s a valid concern.


  1. Mee-yow Smellss was furry brave to go on such an adventure!!
    Wee betss THE Airport Peeps were like “WHAT THE CAT ISS GOIN ON?”
    Smellss iss furry hansum…furry reegal…an sorta silly (inn a guud way tho;)!!
    **nose bopss** BellaDharma an ROFL BellaSita Mum (who has no shame!)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kitties love small spaces. Thank goodness this story had a happy ending. I shudder to think what would have happened if he had been put in the cargo hold. He is one lucky cat!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some airlines do put pets in cargo holds, but obviously they’re the pressurized holds. I think different models have unpressurized sections as well, which would be the real danger. They get pretty damn cold too, I believe.


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