New Year’s is a time for anticipation and reflection. As we look back to 2011, Jack the Cat’s horrific ordeal at New York’s JFK Airport stands out as one of the major cat related stories of the year having gotten lost after escaping from a baggage center at American Airlines. He was lost for close to two months before being found and then euthanized due to injuries and malnutrition
That story went international, and the sad fact is it could happen to any one that needs to travel by air with their pet.
According to reports, the five-year-old Norwegian Forest Cat had been scheduled fly with his owner Karen Pascoe who was relocating from New York to San Francisco, California. Her flight was on American Airlines on August 25. While traveling, Pascoe dropped her two cats off in their kennels at baggage services and soon received a call from an American Airlines agent telling her that one of her cats was missing, and they believed he was in the inbound baggage claim area.
A Department of Transportation Pet Incident Report released Oct. 13 revealed exactly how Jack was lost. Each of Pascoe’s cats was in its own kennel, which a clerk stacked one on top of the other. The top kennel fell and Jack escaped. Thousands of people followed the case on Jack’s Facebook Page, with concerns being aired over how safe is it to put your pet in cargo when flying.
Two months later, Jack reportedly plummeted through a loose ceiling tile into the airport’s customs office, and was taken to a veterinarian to be treated for problems resulting from malnutrition. He was euthanized on Sunday, Nov . 8 after veterinarians and Pascoe, who had returned to New York to be with her pet, agreed he was too sick to recover. He was put down at the Blue Pearl veterinary hospital in Forest Hills, Queens.
Jack was said to have suffered from fatty liver disease, a condition common in malnourished animals, as well as multiple wounds. It is presumed the cat had spent these seven weeks hiding in the ducts, not eating or drinking.
According to Pet MD, when a body is undernourished or starved, the body automatically moves fat from its reserves to the liver to be converted into energy and fuel. Cat’s are not designed to convert large stores of fat, so when a cat is starving or eats much less than usual, this fat released to the liver is not processed efficiently, and causes a fatty, low functioning liver. If not treated promptly, hepatic lipidosis can lead to various complications and eventually death.
It is well known that cats have high nutritional requirements for proteins, being strictly meat eaters. The lack of protein or inability to process proteins will quickly develop into malnutrition. That is why it is so important that cats have a regular diet and not go weeks or even days with out food.
Which brings us pause to putting cats, or any pet, in cargo when flying. While probably the most famous lost cargo story, Jack is not the only one.
On Apr 10, 2011, a blog listing talks about Cat Missing at Cairo Airport, Can YOU Help following a December 2010 incident when Delta Airlines lost her pet, Patch, at the Cairo Airport.
On Sept. 7, 2007, A cat has been reunited with its owners after surviving cars, planes and rat poison for three weeks at Stockholm Arlanda Airport. The feline, Kattitz, escaped from his cage during transit.
On April 27, 2010, Julie Mannell, 20, flew from Montreal (going home from McGill University) to Toronto. She had planned to bring Ludwig, her 2-year-old domestic shorthair, aboard with her, but airline officials in Montreal said the cat would have to travel in the baggage compartment because she didn’t have a soft-sided carrier. She said she paid an extra $50 for Ludwig’s ride and expected himctually knocked to the ground as it was being loaded onto a conveyor belt inside Terminal 3. The cage door popped open and Ludwig bolted.
According to pettravel.com, the number of pet related airline incidents climbed in 2010. Ten airlines reported incidents that included 39 pet deaths, 12 injuries, and 5 lost pets. With a total of 56 incidents being reported in 2010 compared to the 32 incidents reported in 2009.
According to the Air Transport Association (ATA), over 500,000 animals are shipped via the air every year. Approximately 1% of the shipments encounter problems including transport in unapproved kennels, missed flights, lost pets, and animals’ deaths.
PetTravel.com strongly encourages owners is to makes sure the kennel is solid and to secure the doors and frame with zip ties. Even so, this give paws to whether or not to every travel without your dear feline friend guaranteed a safe trip.
More on safe travel with your pet later this week.
If you, a friend, or relative, has had a problem related to their pet getting lost during air travel, please share. If we think about how many times our luggage gets lost, what prevents our pets from getting lost as well.