A Canadian woman has been sent home after she tried to sneak her cat into New Zealand in a handbag.
The woman only declared that she had dirty boots in her luggage and did not mention her feline friend when she arrived at Auckland Airport from Vancouver on Wednesday.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) manager Craig Hughes says she only confessed to carrying the cat when MPI staff attempted to x-ray her baggage.
"She was very reluctant to have the handbag x-rayed, saying it had already been checked by our quarantine officers. She only revealed the cat after we insisted the bag will have to undergo further biosecurity checks."
The woman claimed she told officials about the cat when she bought her ticket but MPI is calling the smuggling attempt "deliberate and stupid".
"There are strict biosecurity rules in place to stop imported cats and dogs from introducing pests and diseases into New Zealand. The passenger clearly decided those rules didn't apply to her," Mr Hughes says.
Immigration officials refused the woman permission to enter the country.
She was forced to return to Canada with her cat on the next available flight.