WASHINGTON — It is the most wonderful time of the year, and now there is further proof to substantiate that.

Milo, the cat that many people have been looking for since October, was found Friday morning by the USDA. 

Milo was last seen at Dulles International Airport in October. He is the pet of U.S. Army captain Molly McFadden, who was returning from Germany after a four-year overseas deployment.

McFadden landed from her flight with Lufthansa, a German airline, and waited for her belongings at the baggage claim when she learned Milo was not in his plastic crate. 

"He obviously didn't break it or push it out himself, and he's a cat, so he's not going to yank it in," McFadden said. "So even now, I don't really know what happened to it."

Soon after, a search for the three-year-old cat started at Dulles.

An airport spokesperson said, over the last two months, there have been several sightings of Milo around the airport.

But, Thursday night, a USDA worker, who was helping the airport, finally got Milo to come close to a tuna-baited trap.

The next morning, Milo was finally captured and returned to McFadden.

"It's like Christmas came early," she said.

McFadden also credited the tracking service Pure Gold Pet Trackers with helping to narrow down the locations where Milo might be.

She said when Milo was found, it was apparent he had lost a few pounds. But, for the most part, he was healthy.

No one knows the exact food he relied on to survive.

"I'm proud of him," McFadden said. "I didn't think he had it in him."

Since Milo was traveling from Germany, the country where he was born, he had to go through customs after he was found, according to Dulles Airport.

After that, he was finally returned to McFadden's possession.

Animal rescue experts said airlines lose or kill pets traveling as cargo all too often.

Sam Connelly with Pure Gold Pet Trackers said she's recovered hundreds of lost cats, but she says cats lost by airlines are far too common. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported 26 pets traveling as cargo died in 2016, and another 22 were injured.

"It's unfortunate that this happens so often," Connelly said.

But, luckily, this story had a happy ending.

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