A TSA agent in New York City spotted a live feline trapped inside checked luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport — but safely got the cat out of the bag, authorities said Tuesday.
The orange tabby's brush with potential tragedy happened on Nov. 16 when the bag was checked from JFK to Atlanta for a connecting flight to Melbourne Orlando International Airport in Florida, officials said.
"The cat did not belong to the individual with the suitcase, it belonged someone else in the household," TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told NBC News.
The flagged luggage was taken aside and the cat rescued before the tabby could have ended up in the pressurized cargo hold.
It "was implied" that the furball saw the open suitcase and jumped in without the traveler seeing it, Farbstein added.
As almost any cat parent can attest, open suitcases are inviting targets for loving felines.
"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.
"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."
While "none of my current cats are suitcase jumpers," Houpt said she takes no chances and packs her bags on an elevated rack.