By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A pet cat missing for two months after escaping its carrier at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport has been discovered alive in a customs room, American Airlines said on Wednesday.
The cat, named Jack, was due to fly with its owner, Karen Pascoe, in August to San Francisco where she was starting a new job, the airline said. But it disappeared from its travel container before the flight took off.
It was discovered on Tuesday, the airline said.
Since being missing, the cat developed fatty liver disease, a treatable condition that can develop when a cat is not getting enough food.
Pascoe, who flew to San Francisco without Jack but with a second cat named Barry who arrived safely, was contacted by the airline when Jack was identified by a microchip implanted between his shoulder blades.
During the two months that Jack was missing, a Facebook page was created on its behalf that attracted more than 16,000 subscribers. The page featured reports of possible Jack sightings that proved to be dead ends.
Bonnie Folz, a dog trainer and pet-lover who lives near the airport, volunteered to oversee search efforts, despite having never met Pascoe or Jack.
She said she saw the cat at the office of a local veterinarian on Tuesday night.
"He looks tired but he looks beautiful," she said. "He's got beautiful bright eyes."
Folz, who has helped other people try to locate lost pets, criticized the airline's handling of the pet container, saying she suspected baggage handlers had stacked Jack's crate precariously and failed to secure its door with a zip tie.
Ed Martelle, a spokesman for American Airlines, said he could not comment on how Jack managed to escape. He said the airline would fly Jack to California to be reunited with his owner once he is healthy.
But Folz said she talked to Pascoe, who plans to pick up Jack herself.
Jack has lost so much weight that he likely comes in below the 15-pound limit and would be allowed to fly this time with his owner in the passenger cabin, Folz said.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Johnston)