It’s not something you would expect to find in someone’s carry-on – which is why US security authorities were left (understandably) shocked when a live cat showed up on the X-ray machine.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff did a double take when the feline showed up on security screening at Norfolk International Airport in Virginia on Friday.
In the US, travelers can take cats or small dogs in pet carry cases in the cabin of the plane, however in this case the cat had wrongly been sent through the X-ray machine instead of being taken out of the bag first.
The TSA released the X-ray of the cat in its official Twitter feed.
“Just when you thought it was safe to bring your pet cat on a trip … A traveller left their pet cat in its travel carrying case at a @TSA checkpoint this morning at @NorfolkAirport,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein wrote in the caption alongside the snap.
While you may think common sense prevails in such situations, Ms Farbstein had to warn travelers not to send their pets through the X-ray machine, while adding a cheeky pun.
“Attention pet owners: Please do not send your pet through the X-ray unit. Cat-astrophic mistake!” she wrote.
The post has attracted plenty of attention with many concerned about the welfare of the animal.
Ms Farbstein confirmed both the traveller and the cat were required to go through the screening the proper way after the TSA agents saw the X-ray image.
“The proper way being to remove the cat from the travel bag,” she added.
She also tweeted a video posted to Instagram by the TSA about the proper way to travel with a pet through the TSA checkpoint, where owners take the pet out of the carry case before the bag is X-rayed.
She said travelers with cats can request screening to occur in a private room, just in case the owner has a runner on their hands.
The Instagram video starts out with an image of the cat’s X-ray with the words, “Don’t do this,” underneath.
It then shows a man remove his dog from a pet carrier and walk through the TSA checkpoint.
Ms Farbstein told CNN that the individual either did not know to remove the pet from the carry-on travel case before going through the checkpoint, or forgot to do so.
“When that happens, they have to start all over again, meaning that the passenger and the cat have to start over at the checkpoint.
“The passenger needs to remove the pet from a carry case and carry it through the walk-through metal detector or walk the pet through the metal detector on a leash.”
It’s not the first time a passenger has made this mistake.
Last December TSA found a dog in a passenger’s carry-on.
The owner of the dog had reportedly neglected to inform the screeners of her pet before putting the bag on the conveyor belt.
And the month before an orange tabby cat was found in a checked bag at JFK Airport in New York.
In that incident, the owner of the bag was unaware of his feline stowaway, which had secretly climbed into the suitcase before he zipped it up.