Cat Found In LaGuardia Ceiling 11 Days After Going Missing

A New York City kitty has become something of a Christmas miracle, having been found 11 days after going missing at an airport. Muji, a rescue cat, had escaped from her owner Taylor Le while at a TSA checkpoint before a flight to California. Having spent Christmas and New Year in the ceiling at La Guardia airport, the cat was finally trapped on January 4th and reunited with her owner.

Southwest, pay cuts, furlough
The cat was traveling with Southwest Airlines on Christmas Eve. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

Fearful feline ‘freaked out’

New Yorker Taylor Le was moving to a new house in Orange County, California, along with her cat Muji, just before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, she arrived at La Guardia airport to catch her flight. But when the cat had to be removed from its carrier in order to pass a TSA checkpoint, Taylor says the animal ‘freaked out,’ bolting through the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter and eventually into the ceiling of the airport.

In a Facebook post, Taylor Le explained how the cat escaped, saying,

“TSA insisted I take her out of her carrier to go through security and did not offer a private screening area for us. After walking through the metal detector with Muji, she got spooked and jumped out of my arms. She ran into a maintenance room at the Southwest ticketing counter. After numerous failed attempts by airport operations to catch her, she jumped into the ceiling enclosure above the ticketing counter and has not been seen since.”

On January 6th, Taylor broke the news that everyone was rooting for. Muji had been found and rescued by a team of volunteers after spending 11 days in the airport ceiling.

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Muji lost poster
Taylor worked with a team of volunteers to find her cat. Photo: Taylor Le

Airport cat rescued by dog

To help track down the missing feline, Taylor enlisted the help of a team of volunteers, including the nonprofit Where Is Jack. Where Is Jack was set up ten years ago in memory of Jack the cat. Jack had attempted to fly in cargo on American Airlines, but escaped when his crate was dropped before boarding. Sadly, when he was found, he was too malnourished to survive.

Alongside the volunteers from Where Is Jack, pet detective Sam Connelly from Pure Gold Pet Tracker worked with her golden retriever Abby to locate Muji. The dog confirmed that Muji was still in the ceiling, in the mechanical room next to the ticketing counter. Finally, after 11 days stuck in the airport, Muji emerged and was captured in a trap.

Muji cat La Guardia
Muji was found after 11 days in the ceiling. Photo: Queens Lost & Found Pets – QLFP via Facebook

Taylor Lee was over the moon to have her cat back, and says that Muji was shocked but otherwise physically OK. However, she warned cat owners about traveling with a pet in a crate, advising them to use a harness to ensure the same fate does not befall their own feline friends.

“Many people (including myself) do not know we need to take our pets out of their carrier to go through the screening process at airports. A TSA approved harness is highly recommended to hold them securely while the carrier is being scanned.”

Muji is now home safe. Photo: Taylor Le

The TSA told the New York Post that the reason cats are removed from their carriers is so that they are not exposed to the X-rays while the basket is being scanned. A spokesperson told the publication,

“TSA recommends that small pets be leashed so that their owners can maintain the control of the pet.”

Have you traveled with a cat? Let us know about your experiences in the comments.