Jennifer Stewart and Joseph Naaman with their cat Felix Jennifer Stewart and Joseph Naaman with their cat Felix

An American couple has claimed their cat went missing on an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to New York’s JFK.

Jennifer Stewart and Joseph Naaman, who were relocating to New York from Abu Dhabi, had booked their cat, Felix, on their flight on April 1, but were told after landing that the cat had gone missing somewhere in Kennedy Airport.

Stewart believes her cat got loose due to damage to the plastic carrier Felix was being transported in. She said the couple was approached by a cargo manager who informed them the carrier had been crushed.

“For them to take a cat and ship him like he was cargo, not a live animal, makes me sick. You trust that people care and are doing their job well, and then this happens,” she said.

Story continues below

In a statement to CNN, Etihad Airways said: “We deeply regret this unfortunate incident and are keeping the owner apprised of the progress of the search. We will review our pet handling procedures in the wake of this incident, as the safety and care of pets traveling with Etihad Airways is a top priority.”

The couple said they spent US $1200 to ship Felix, who is still missing, on the 14-hour flight.

Officials at the airport have offered to assist the airline's investigation into what happened. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also said a wildlife biologist who works with the airport has placed traps to help find the cat.