Jack the JFK Cat Didn’t Make It After All

By Max

I am typing with tears raining on my paws after finding out via Twitter that 5-year-old Jack the cat, who was lost for 2 months at JFK Airport thanks to the carelessness of American Airlines, has died.

None of the reports after he was found mentioned that he had sustained terrible wounds on his back. In fact, his NY vet said he was in pretty good shape, considering.

Well, that wasn’t the case at all. Because of Jack’s severe dehydration and malnutrition, the wounds wouldn’t heal. Now the vet’s comparing them to Jack “having severe burns over 50-60% of his body,” and even if Jack had undergone surgery to close them, it would have meant more suffering and no guarantee of recovery.

So Jack’s owner, Karen Pascoe, made the horrible decision to end Jack’s suffering yesterday. No account of what happened is clear, but I think Pascoe was with Jack, and that he never made it home to California and died in New York.

American Airlines supposedly paid Jack’s vet bills.

I also just learned that Jack was found at the airport in October only after he FELL THROUGH A CEILING.

Here’s a sad picture of Jack in his final days.

The moral of this tragic story for humans is this: If you are ever faced with transporting your pet as cargo on ANY airline — DON’T. Find another way. None of them can be trusted.

12 Responses to Jack the JFK Cat Didn’t Make It After All

  1. Margaret says:

    You’re not the only one to shed a tear. I’m going to go home and hug my cats so close tonight.

  2. Gizmo's mom says:

    Another case of senseless feline suffering due to senseless (in)humans. Poor Jack. The only glimmer of positivity in this is that he wasn’t alone and lost in his final moments and hopefully his suffering through the end was minimized. If he had survived his physical wounds, you have to wonder about the psychological scars. RIP sweet Jack.

  3. catsworking says:

    How true, Gizmo’s mom. It would have been even worse if Jack had died somewhere all alone in that stupid airport.

    But what I still can’t wrap my head around is WHY didn’t the initial reports mention his wounds, if they were on more than half his body? The vet only talked about dehydration and fatty liver disease from lack of food. And what happened to poor Jack that he got so messed up? Did he get caught in a machine or something?

    There are still so many more question than answers. And I’m not feeling all warm and fuzzy about American Airlines and their role in this, either.

  4. Britta says:

    I have never been able to fathom why pet owners feel so comfortable with their companions traveling in the belly of the beast.

    With most of our brood, they don’t transport and we have no plans to move but if we were faced with that decision, I don’t know what we would do. All the commotion, unfamiliar noises and sensations must be, at best, startling to most pets. Even if the animal was generally lumpy and laid back, it can’t be a good experience. Even medicated at our vet’s recommendation, as we tried to do on our last move via mini-van, although we were front and present the entire time, our kitties were not happy –and BTW, we’d never medicate again.

    Frankly, it’s a crap shoot at the animal’s expense although I have to say, the decision not to take one’s pet along is equally difficult. Had a friend who moved to Germany with her kitty with no reported issues although, I didn’t confer with her cat on the experience either.

    What a sad story.

  5. Jessica says:

    This really is heartbreaking. I’ve moved with my cats several times and they have always done well (one needs a tranquilizer and one does not). I have to say that traveling by airplane is the most difficult thing. You have to make a huge deal just to get your cat to travel under the seat. I remember one time, I had booked my flight and a space for my cat under the seat. My father was traveling with my other cat, also under the seat. When I went to check in the airline kept trying to tell me that my cats had to go to cargo. I basically had to threaten them. My babies don’t fly cargo. Period.

    RIP Jack.

  6. Bacardi1 says:

    While I am definitely NOT a litigious person by nature, something like this would have had me interviewing lawyers in a heartbeat. The airline just paying the vet bills wouldn’t be enough for me.

    Oh, and “Gizmo’s Mom” – I have a “Gizmo” too!!

  7. catsworking says:

    Karen here… I wish my sister would check in. She flew her cat to Scotland and back. Going over, in cargo; under the seat coming back. There was a lot of red tape involved. The cat (Noel) is very laid-back and took it all in stride, and even spent extended time alone in Scotland with Keri’s roommate while Keri traveled. On the other hand, Keri had another cat who would have turned feral and vicious for sure, and Keri gave her away before she left.

    Some vets say it’s not good to medicate animals for travel because, if something happens to them like it did to Jack, they are groggy and unable to fend for themselves. I guess it depends on the animal and the circumstances. I should think it would be OK for a car ride with the owner there to keep an eye on the cat.

    I was thinking about what I would have done in Karen Pascoe’s situation. First, I don’t think I’d have let the airline talk me onto a later flight so easily and would have tried to stay a few days combing the airport myself AND making sure the airline was making serious effort to find the cat. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    On the other hand, she did have another cat (Barry) with her. Maybe he could have been boarded with a vet (at AA’s expense) while Pascoe searched for Jack. And whenever they did finally leave, Barry would have flown IN THE CABIN.

    And, yes, after the way things have turned out, with Jack suffering life-ending physical injuries as well as dehydration and starvation, I’d definitely be lawyering up to sue the pants off AA, as well as seeing what I could do about getting some humane laws enacted regarding transporting animals on aircraft. The bottom line was that Pascoe’s cat was mauled to death and suffered in terror for 2 months due to AA’s ignorant negligence.

    If you read Jack’s Facebook page, it mentions “there are 2 other cats to transport” which scared the sh** out of us. Could it be that Pascoe had 4 cats and needs to get 2 more cross-country? I haven’t read all the Facebook entries (because I can’t figure out how the f**k to do anything with Facebook), but whoever is writing is pretty cryptic with the details.

    I hope with all the interest in Jack, Pascoe can possibly arrange for a chain of people across the country willing to DRIVE the other cats to the West Coast. You know, like how they pass the Olympic torch from one runner to the next.

  8. Marilyn Ritter says:

    This situation has infuriated me from start to sad finish. In defense of an airline, United was fine when my husband and I flew from West to East coast years ago. We had purchased Sherpa carriers, gotten all the necessary paperwork for check-in, and were given seats together throughout several transfers. This was all before Sept. 11 and things may have changed. Flying them cargo was never and would never be a consideration for us any more than putting a human child in cargo would be. Something has to change with the airlines. Just think of all the cats that fly from place to place for cat shows (or dogs, etc.). Not everyone can afford to fly the one airline that I know of for animals and it doesn’t go to all cities. Poor Jack. The fact that his true condition was concealed from the public is worse than never telling that he was found in the first place. While we probably will never know all sides of the story, the fact remains that this precious creature suffered in spite of the fact that his owner was with him at the end of his life. I am just so very sorry. From The Cats of Lakeview Point and marilyn

  9. catsworking says:

    Karen here… Marilyn, I’ve flown with a lot of children (not my own) in my day, who BELONGED in cargo! I’m sure there are many pet parents who would gladly pay for a SEAT for their pet to fly in the cabin. Naturally, there would have to be size restrictions, but I’d rather sit beside a cat or dog in a carrier in the middle seat than a howling toddler who’s unrestrained and climbing all over everything and everybody.

    The airlines are screwing up big-time with this one. If the customer can show documentation that the pet is of a certain size and up-to-date on shots, and the carrier meets requirements for sturdiness, why NOT sell the pet a seat? They wouldn’t even have to give it a lousy 1/2-oz. bag of nuts! And it wouldn’t get drunk and rowdy. AND it doesn’t need any space in the overhead bin!

  10. Britta says:

    Lot’s of sentiment on this issue. In general, there are clearly varying degrees of appreciation for other than human beings and it seems there is more derisiveness concerning felines. Like that is a revelation to anyone posting here. Sad but true.

    Recall my MIL offering us her palatial vacation home to seek shelter from hurricanes Jeanne and Francis. Oh, yeah, and we can seek refuge provided we put our aged kitties in the garage to ride out the storms. Thanks but no thanks. Expanding our rescue group has worked out quite well with inlaws who don’t place value on the life of cats. I’m loving it but I digress 😉

  11. catsworking says:

    Britta, when my husband left me many, many years ago, I had 2 cats (one of them his, which he said I’d take better care of — she ultimately lived to within months of age 20). My mother offered to let me come stay at her house until I got things sorted out but, of course, my cats weren’t welcome.

    I spent my first night separated sleeping with the cats on a sheet on the floor of my apartment bedroom (husband had taken the furniture, which originally belonged to him).

  12. Britta says:

    Karen – we (all) are ever-loyal and devoted to felines. A fine quality and one that led me to this blog. Thanks for your contributions. They are real and heartfelt. Needed reassurance among all of the nasty stuff going on out in the world.

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