After escaping from her carrier a week ago in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, Pepper, who also answers to her Mandarin name Dai Meng — which loosely translates to “little dork” — is now finally in the arms of her owner’s friend.
Nuan Tang, the friend of Pepper’s owner, managed to coax the feline out of hiding by using the cat’s preferred language. She was rescued at about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday when the 30-year-old woman called her by her Mandarin name, Dai Meng.
“She started screaming at me, like ‘Where have you been?'” she told New York Daily News. “It looked like she was waiting for me.”
Port Authority Police rescue Pepper the Cat in Terminal 4, JFK. P.O. Kameel Juman (front, left) led the effort which included enlisting Pepper’s owner’s friend Nuan Lang (front, right). Rear, L-R #PAPD POs Ann Armstrong, Alfred Morgado & Sean McCafferty. #PAPDPROTECTSNYNJ #Pepper pic.twitter.com/kfEj6O8S38
— Port Authority PBA (@PAPD911) April 28, 2018
To make the feline’s carrier more secure, Port Authority Police Officer Kameel Juman, who led the search for Pepper, added extra measures to make sure she won’t get away from her cage.
“I grabbed some duct tape and sealed up the cat carrier. We were not losing this cat again,” he said.
Her great escape occurred at about 11:30 a.m. on April 20 when Pepper and her 29-year-old owner had already checked in at the airport. The 4-year-old Tabby’s carrier reportedly fell on its side and the door of the cage popped open.
After being accidentally released, Pepper bolted and jumped onto the low roof above the check-in counter. Her owner was relocating to China from New Jersey, and after this incident skipped the flight but eventually made her way to Asia.
Pepper was first seen by Farhani Hamid, a member of PAX Assist, a company that helps passengers find their right direction in the airport terminal. The feline was spotted at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday, April 25.
Pepper still remains elusive in JFK Airport’s Terminal 4 but, Pepper appears healthy. #PAPD police officers are continuing their efforts to rescue Pepper and return to her owner. Officers have been leaving food for Pepper in the areas of her sightings. #PAPDPROTECTSNYNJ pic.twitter.com/owuBgCLq3b
— Port Authority PBA (@PAPD911) April 27, 2018
Port Authority managed to take pictures and videos of Pepper. They even intensified their effort by laying down food and contraptions that would help them capture the cat, but to no avail — she totally ignored everything.
It was then when Juman finally decided to call in someone who is attached to Pepper, and what is where Tang came in. She knows Pepper all too well considering that she had taken care of the feline in the past.
Pepper the Cat, lost on 4/20/18 in Terminal 4, JFK, has been sighted. #PAPD is now attempting to rescue Pepper. Humane traps have been set up in hopes the PAPD can reunite Pepper with its owner. #PAPDPROTECTSNYNJ #Pepper pic.twitter.com/qOnTN2OxUk
— Port Authority PBA (@PAPD911) April 26, 2018
“I was at the pet store, getting more food and they told me the only person who would be able to get her was the owner or someone who knows the cat,” he said.
Pepper is now in the care of Tang, and she will remain there until she’s read to reunite with her owner in China who is “super excited” with the news, she said.
“She’s doing good,” she said. “She’s eating but she’s not sleeping all that well. She’ll wake up and walk around and then try to sleep again.”
“We couldn’t have done it without all the workers at the airport that spotted her through the week,” Juman said, following with a joke, “the pigeon population in the terminal declined when she was there.”