QUEENS — A swift-footed feline scheduled to board a flight to Taiwan last week leapt out of its travel crate inside JFK’s sprawling Terminal 4 and has been on the loose ever since.
The cat, 4-year-old Xiaohwa, was headed to Taipei to be reunited with its owner, 31-year-old Iris Yu, who is working abroad, said Jerry Cheung, Yu’s boyfriend.
Cheung, 36, said a friend took Xiaohwa to the airport on Thursday. When customs officials asked the friend to open the cat’s travel crate for inspection, Xiaohwa got spooked, leapt from her cage and ran off into the terminal.
Xiaohwa hasn’t been seen since, said Cheung.
The missing cat has hit both Cheung and his girlfriend hard over the past several days.
“We found Xiaohwa together,” Cheung said. “So losing her is like losing our child.”
Cheung said the cat has been through a lot in its short life. Xiaohwa has had two litters of kittens, some of which were stillborn. Cheung is now raising one of the surviving kittens in his Bensonhurst apartment.
Xiaohwa has also been diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus, the cat version of HIV, Cheung added.
Over the course of the past several days, Cheung said he and Yu have made multiple calls to airport officials, but he has no idea how long it might take to track the cat down.
“I can understand the airport is a pretty big place. And for a cat, there’s a lot of places to hide. But there should be some expert or pet detectives that can facilitate in resolving situations like this,” Cheung said.
“[Iris] just wants her cat to be found.”
A spokesman for the Port Authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.