Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Little Creatures Lurking at JIA Keep Employees on Their Toes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Little Creatures Lurking at JIA Keep Employees on Their Toes

Article excerpt

Byline: GREGORY RICHARDS, The Times-Union

Mike McNamee opened the door to his Jacksonville International Airport office on a recent Monday morning -- but something wasn't right. A gaping hole in his ceiling. Papers scattered. An intense odor.

His office had been invaded.

McNamee, a private food service manager, declined to talk to the Florida Times-Union about the occurrence, but Ismael Bonilla, JIA's operations manager, echoed his shock.

"Mike was like, 'Oh my God, what the hell is this?' " Bonilla said.

It wasn't exactly something to notify the Department of Homeland Security about. The intruder that had infiltrated the office wasn't named on any federal watch list or connected with any evildoer organization.

What McNamee saw, as it ran out, was only a cat. An unhappy, feral cat. One that dropped into his office over the weekend after the ceiling tile it was walking on broke.

Feral cats have been on the prowl inside JIA.

The cats, the kind you get when house cats go wild, seemed to start their forays into the airport terminal building in a quest for food. It began after officials cracked down on treats left outside by kindhearted by rule-breaking employees. So far, the wild cats haven't made their way into passenger areas, instead sticking to behind-the-scenes sections of the first floor.

Some at the airport speculate the cats are trying to avoid the crowds. But in a time of heightened national security, the cats may know better than to try to dart through security screening areas without proper identification.

"If they do access a secure area, we may have to do criminal history checks on them," quipped Lauren Stover, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration.

But even staying in the shadows can't seem to keep the creatures out of trouble. Take the case of Richard Hern, who heard soft meows emanating from the concrete wall of his office on JIA's lower level.

Soon after, an odor followed. …

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