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Pet Cat Lost at JFK Still on the Loose

By Mary Johnson | October 25, 2012 1:34pm

QUEENS — It’s been a week since a pet cat escaped from her crate inside JFK’s Terminal 4, and there’s been no sign of the 4-year-old, green-eyed kitty named Xiaohwa.

Bonnie Folz, a volunteer with the animal rights organization Where is Jack, said her group has put a flyer together to distribute among airport employees and help spread the word about Xiaohwa.

“That’s what we can do as outsiders,” said Folz, who explained that she and her volunteers are hoping to gain access to search the terminal.

“Every situation may be different depending on where in the airport the animal is lost,” she added. “There’s a lot of places that a cat can hide out in a terminal.”

Xiaohwa went missing on Thursday, Oct. 18, when a friend of her owner, 31-year-old Iris Yu, took the cat to the airport to put her on a flight to join Yu in Taiwan, where she has been working for the past 10 months.

As the friend took Xiaohwa through customs, security officers asked to inspect the crate, said Jerry Cheung, Yu’s boyfriend, who lives in Brooklyn. Xiaohwa got spooked and darted out into the terminal.

The cat, who suffers from feline immunodeficiency virus (the cat version of HIV), has not been seen since.

Representatives from the Port Authority have not returned multiple calls requesting comment on the status of the search for Xiaohwa.

But Folz said her organization is pushing to gain access for an escorted search throughout as much of the terminal as possible. Although they might not be able to search everywhere they would like for security reasons, she said the sooner a thorough investigation can be conducted, the more likely they are to find Xiaohwa.

Folz has seen this situation unfold before, when a 2-year-old cat named Jack went missing at JFK last year.

When Jack was finally found some two months after he darted from his dropped crate, he was severely malnourished and had suffered extensive wounds, according to published reports and the Where is Jack website.

Jack died from his injuries soon after he was rescued.

Jack became the inspiration for Folz's organization, which is dedicated to ensuring that animals are safely cared for during air travel.

In the ongoing hunt for Xiaohwa, a Facebook page has been set up to aid in the search and had already garnered some 400 “likes” by Thursday morning.

“There is NO reason to take cats out of carriers in an open area! None!” one Facebook user commented on the page. “I understand the reason for taking the cats out but that needs to be done in a closed room. Anyone that has ever had a cat can tell you how easily cats can panic!”

“No, not another one,” another Facebook user wrote. “I pray that he is found.”