There’s always a rigid protocol when taking a beloved pet on an airplane. Depending on the airline and your pet, they can be in a carrier, under your seat, or checked-in and placed in a kennel in the underbelly of the plane. Or, they stay home with friends or family. But this time a little orange tabby said nope, I’m taking a fourth option.
Cats are notorious for “if I fits I sits.” They’ll sit anywhere in smaller areas and love being in places they really shouldn’t be. This little orange floof did precisely that.
“Is my hair sticking out?”
A TSA agent at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City doing their job was checking bags through the airport security check. Then, a suitcase comes rolling through the x-ray machine and the agent spotted something odd in the luggage. There was a cat inside the bag and it was alive and well!
A beautiful orange tabby probably saw the open suitcase and decided to dive right in. The kitty was perfectly content in their new mobile bed. It’s typically pretty harmless, but this time, not so much. When the suitcase closes and starts moving, it’s a whole other situation.
Why do cats like getting inside luggage anyway?
“‘I think one reason is that it’s like a cat bed. Cats like spaces with barriers around it,’ Cornell University professor emeritus and animal behavioral expert Katherine Houpt said.”
Just about anything could happen being trapped in a closed suitcase and can be fatal to the poor feline. Suitcases aren’t cat beds little buddy!
“If I just hold still they won’t notice me…”
So how did the cat get there?
“This looks like a nice cozy spot…”
Luckily as soon as the kitty was spotted, it was removed from the luggage safe and sound. If the kitty wasn’t spotted, it would’ve been stuck in the bag in a pressurized cargo hold from New York City to Atlanta and then on to Melbourne Orlando International Airport in Florida.
And here’s the kicker: The owner of the luggage says that the cat isn’t their’s! Instead, the cat’s owner was another family member living in the house. Somehow the cat crawled into the open bag as the suitcase owner was packing, and missed that the kitty had crawled in. Katherine Houpt, an animal behavioral expert, went on to say cats may do this because of a sign of stress.
“And presumably it smells like the owner and I think they associate it with an impending loss. They might not necessarily want to prevent that owner from going, but perhaps at least they want to signal stress.”
Maybe this kitty really needed a little vacation after all?
With the orange stowaway safe, the TSA decided to have a little fun with the situation on Twitter.
We’re letting the cat out of the bag on a hiss-toric find. This CATch had our baggage screening officers @JFKairport 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). pic.twitter.com/LpIkLbAgzC
— TSA (@TSA) November 22, 2022
The TSA found out from the suitcase owner that the tabby’s owner was Alix, another member of household. When the TSA called Alix about that cat, they found out his name is Smells. And he wasn’t supposed to be going on a vacation to the Orange State! Sounds like Smells lived up to his name going sniffing around a suitcase.
Just to top it all off, Alix and her fiancé had no idea Smells was missing until the TSA called!
“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.”-Smells’ owner Alix.
Smells may not have been bothered by the situation, but the humans certainly were. It was another day in the life of a cat in a comfy spot, completely unaware that there’s just certain things they shouldn’t lie down in. We’ve seen it many times, such as when another orange kitty, Montequlla, decided to hide in a recliner and wound up at the thrift store on New Year’s Eve. Another orange kitty, Delilah, hid out in a pop-up trailer and wound up enjoying a cross-country-vacation with her family – by surprise.
You have to watch out for those orange kitties! (Looking at your Marmalade and Bond!) But it’s also a great reminder to be aware of all the cats hiding out in other places, like under cars during cold weather.
For tips on caring for cats while on vacation, please see our article here.