I will soon be flying two cats domestically in the US as cabin luggage. I just googled the TSA procedure for this and found this TSA missive which states (in part) during the screening process
All pets should be brought to the security checkpoint in a hand-held travel carrier. Remove the pet from the carrier just prior to the beginning of the screening process.
Do not put the pet into the x-ray tunnel, which is used to screen a passenger's personal property and carry-on luggage. Place the empty travel carrier on the belt to be x-rayed.
The pet should be carried during the screening process; alternately, a pet can walk thru the process if the owner has the pet on a leash.
A TSA officer will give the pet owner’s hands an explosive trace detection swab to ensure there is no explosive residue on the hands.
Once the screening process is completed, owners should return the pet to the travel carrier at the re-composure area, away from the security checkpoint for the safety of the pet as well as other passengers.
Cats have sharp teeth and sharp claws and are prepared to use them when scared and don't want to be held. Pulling a cat out of its carrier in a noisy, confusing and unknown place is apt to scare cats (and hence prime their teeth and claws for action). So to me this screening process seems to be a recipe for disaster.
So is this TSA procedure the current standard that they work to? Or is there an alternative process that would keep my cats inside their carriers during the screening?
After posting this question I realized that I could email the TSA directly and ask them. I am now waiting on a reply.
The TSA responded with additional information that I have posted as an answer below