updated 8/10/2004 9:55:23 AM ET 2004-08-10T13:55:23

A Belgian airliner made an emergency landing after an agitated passenger — a cat — got into the cockpit and attacked the co-pilot, the airline said Tuesday.

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The SN Brussels flight from the Belgian capital to Vienna, Austria, had been in the air about 20 minutes Monday when “it was noticed” that a passenger’s pet had escaped from its cage, “although it is not yet clear how,” according to an airline statement.

“Once free, the animal proceeded to wander around the cabin,” slipping into the cockpit when meals were being delivered to the two-man flight crew, it said.

“At this stage the animal became agitated and nervous,” it said. An airline spokeswoman added that the cat scratched the copilot’s arm.

The pilot decided to return to Brussels as a precaution, and the 58 passengers departed once more two hours later on another flight.

The cat had been checked in Oslo, Norway, in an internationally approved “flight transport bag,” but the airline said it may end up changing its procedures for pets in the cabin once it concludes its investigation.

“At no time throughout the incident was the passengers’ security affected in any way,” it said.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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