‘Miracle’ cat survives 11 days in LaGuardia Airport ceiling

While en route to California, this New York City kitty got stopped at security — and jetted into the LaGuardia Airport ceiling.

Now, it’s a Christmas miracle Muji’s airport adventure didn’t prove terminal.

She missed her flight but — thanks to the help of her devoted owner, a group of pet-loving volunteers and a golden retriever named Abby — she made it out alive in what became a nearly two-week ordeal. 

On Christmas Eve, TSA agents insisted that pastry chef Taylor Le take Muji out of her carrier to walk through an airport security metal detector. 

“I said, ‘She’s gonna run. Do I have to take her out?’” Le told The Post about the pending cat-astrophe.

Yes, she said they told her. 

“We walked through the metal detector and she got spooked, bit me, freaked out and ran off.” 

A chase ensued: The 6-year-old cat made it back into the checkpoint area and laid down — but then took off again when Le got to her, bolting to the Southwest ticket counter and leaping over the luggage-weighing scale.

“I was terrified she was going to jump onto the conveyor belt,” said Le. 

But Muji instead ran into a mechanical room, where two airport operators tried to capture her.

“It only aggravated her more,” she said. 

Bounding up a series of platforms, Muji then crawled into a ceiling enclosure — and disappeared.  

Airport control set out tuna traps and Le changed her flight to the following day in hopes Muji would reappear by then, but the cat remained in the ceiling.  

Le, 43, was in the process of moving from Brooklyn to Orange County, California, to be with her family and “had no place to stay. I had nothing,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do, so I boarded my flight the next day.”

Le’s friends began performing “distance reiki” rituals to communicate “energetically” with Muji, whom Le adopted from a South Brooklyn feral colony four years ago. (“I saw her little face on a Craigslist ad and I was like, I need to meet this cat.”) Others offered to go to LaGuardia and search. Days passed and airport officials had no updates, so Le posted a “public Facebook plea for help.”

Shortly after posting, Le was contacted by the founders of safe pet-flying advocacy group Where Is Jack? Inc., named in memory of Jack the Cat, a golden-furred feline who escaped from his kennel and into the ducts of JFK Airport in 2011. He survived there for two months before suffering injuries after falling through the ceiling; despite treatment, he died less than two weeks later.

“The Queens Lost & Found got notified about [Muji] being lost. Our people monitor that on Facebook,” said Montana State faculty member Mary Beth Melchior, Ph.D., who co-founded Where Is Jack? along with two fellow animal lovers, both named Bonnie. “The two Bonnies, they know who to call, what to do on the ground — they went into action.”

With the group’s help, Le got the airport’s permission to bring in a tracking dog — a golden retriever named Abby who “confirmed Muji was still in the ceiling,” said Le, who immediately booked a flight back to New York.

Muji was located once again in the mechanical room next to the ticketing counter. “I tried calling out to her like I do at home and opened a [cat food] can, which usually makes her come running,” said Le. Muji failed to reappear at that moment, but on Monday night, a member of Muji’s rescue team sent Le a video: After 11 days in the LaGuardia Airport ceiling, Muji had emerged and was captured in the trap. 

“I started crying,” said Le. “It was a miracle.” 

Muji was then taken to an animal hospital in Long Island, where her and Le briefly reunited on Tuesday. “She looked completely shell-shocked” but otherwise physically alright, said Le. 

Le plans to launch a GoFundMe to help pay for Abby’s services — which cost $1,400 — and Muji’s medical bills, and donate any additional money to Where Is Jack? 

When reached for comment, a TSA spokesperson told The Post that runaway airport cats are “not a common occurrence.” They also confirmed that the TSA’s protocol is to remove pets so they are not “exposed to the X-rays” while their carriers are screened, adding that the “TSA recommends that small pets be leashed so that their owners can maintain the control of the pet.” 

On Saturday, the reunited pair are again booked to fly out to California together. “This time, I have a TSA harness for her, and I’m going to insist on having a private screening,” Le said. 

While the experience was traumatic, Le believes it has strengthened her and Muji’s bond. 

“The first year-and-a-half I had her, she wouldn’t let me touch her, but then she started trusting me more and I was like, thank goodness I kept you,” said Le. “Every time I go on a trip and come back she’s a little bit upset, but she’s closer to me after that. It’s amazing.”


New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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