Junction City The worker knew something was wrong.
Moving crates aren't supposed to make mewing noises.
What followed was a story of survival that found a family of new Kansas residents reunited with a lost pet.
An 8-month-old kitten, named Lilo, had been trapped in the crate from early December until he was freed on Thursday. He had lost more than half his normal body weight but was given a significant chance to survive.
"We are dumbfounded. It is a little miracle," said Lilo's owner, Army Sgt. 1st Class Brody Hilstock.
Hilstock was stationed at Aliamanu Military Reservation in Hawaii before his transfer to Fort Riley. He and his family packed up their belongings Dec. 2-3 -- but they couldn't find Lilo.
As it turned out, the kitten had crawled into a set of box springs. Lilo didn't react even when movers prompted by the Hilstocks' concerns pounded on the crates.
On Wednesday, a North American Van Lines worker in Junction City heard Lilo's weak mewing. He alerted his manager, who contacted another company worker on Fort Riley.
"We could hear him, but we couldn't find him," said the manager, Linda McNeal.
When the multicolored kitten was finally lifted out of his prison, he was taken to Junction City Animal Hospital to begin treatment for starvation and dehydration.
Lilo weighed in on Thursday morning at 1 pound, 14 ounces -- about 3 pounds less than a kitten that age should weigh.