Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-LedgerTerminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport in a 2008 file photo. A skittish cat hid under a bomb-detection machine, forcing security officials to shutdown the checkpoint and its owners to miss their flight. NEWARK -- A skittish kitty lodged itself under a bomb-detection machine at Newark Liberty International Airport during today’s morning rush hour, making its owner miss her flight to Florida and other passengers undergo security screening at a different X-ray machine, officials said.
Port Authority police used a hydraulic device 20 minutes later to lift the heavy machine and free the portly cat that had worked its way under 4 inches of clearance, officials said.
The tale of the Terminal A tabby began around 6:30 a.m. at Checkpoint A-2.
A woman and her young daughter had the brown-and-black cat in a carrier but when they removed it so the container could go through the X-ray machine, the freaked-out feline ran under the CTX explosive-detection device, Port Authority officials said.
That checkpoint was closed and passengers were diverted to another machine.
Officers first tried to use a snare to reach the cat under the bomb-detection machine. But the space was too tight and the cat, estimated to weigh about 25 pounds, managed to elude to snare, officials said.
Sgt. Sanrit Booncome with the Port Authority emergency services unit said the CTX machine weighs a couple thousand pounds, so humans were not going to be able to budge it.
Port Authority Police Officers Brian Ross, Richard Egan, Mauricio Gadaleta and Jimmy Giaguzzi led the rescue attempt.
The combination of the snare and a "hydraulic spreader" to lift an end of the bomb-detection machine allowed the officers to free the cat and return it to the owner and her daughter.
"The guys did a good job," Booncome said.
The woman and her daughter missed their Continental Airlines flight to Florida, but were ecstatic that the cat was unharmed. They planned to return for departure today.
"She was thankful," Booncome said of the woman, who was not identified.
"She was stressed out," he added.
The same could not be said of the portly cat.
"It was tired — it looked relaxed," Booncome said.