On Oct. 18, Xiaohwa prepared to board a plane to join her person, Iris Yu, in Taiwan. But when Yu’s friend, who was bringing the cat aboard China Airlines Flight 19, opened Xiaohwa’s carrier during a security screening, the 4-year-old tabby bolted.
Now she’s missing, somewhere within the monolithic Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, as reported by NBC News.
Sound familiar? It should, if you remember Jack the cat, who went missing in the same airport in 2011.
The folks at Where is Jack Inc., the nonprofit group formed in Jack’s honor, find something else uncomfortably familiar about Xiaohwa’s story: the lack of response from the airline and Port Authority officials.
Yu is understandably worried about her cat. She has called the Port Authority and China Airlines every day — from Taiwan, mind you — to get updates about the search.
"But they just tell me to wait," she said.
Yu’s boyfriend, Jason Cheung, reports that when he talked to Port Authority employee Laura Francoeur, he was told that the agency was setting traps and waiting for the cat.
Mary Beth Melchior, founder of Where is Jack, has offered assistance for an active search of the premises. After all, "waiting it out" didn’t work out very well for poor Jack.
Xiaohwa (which is Chinese for "little flower" and pronounced Jow-wah) is FIV-positive and has several other health issues, so it’s crucial that she’s found as soon as possible.
Wednesday afternoon, some good news arrived from Where is Jack via the Facebook page Jack the Cat Is Lost in AA Baggage at JFK: A small group of people will be allowed to search Terminal 4 in hopes of finding the cat. I have reason to believe that Xiaohwa’s story will have a happier ending than Jack’s, as the search, outreach, and PR support network that formed in response to Jack’s crisis is still in place — and it swung into action immediately.
You can follow the Xiaohwa is Lost at JFK Airport page on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news on the search.