Tux the cat has been found, and Lyft has agreed to cover “all of her veterinary bills,” after a Lyft driver zoomed away with the sick cat still in the car, a Lyft spokesperson told Ars.
“We’re so happy to report that Tux has been reunited with her owner, and we are focused on ensuring Tux has everything she needs right now, including covering all of her veterinary bills,” Lyft’s spokesperson told Ars.
Tux’s story went viral online after the cat’s owner, Palash Pandey, posted on X, detailing his attempts to recover his lost cat. The cat went missing on Saturday, and millions of concerned online onlookers worried she might not be recovered. But Pandey posted today that Lyft investigators helped retrieve the cat, which was found at a real estate agency in Austin, Texas.
“The investigators from Lyft found Tux!” Pandey posted. “She looks very tired, is covered in fleas and dehydrated. She started eating wet food again which is a good sign, but I’ll monitor her and take her to the vet as soon as she calms down and stabilizes a bit. I would update again once I hear from the vet.”
Ars could not immediately reach Pandey for comment.
According to Pandey’s thread, the incident happened as he was taking Tux to see the vet. He had the cat in a carrier that he’d placed on the floor of the passenger-side backseat during the ride. When Pandey exited the Lyft, he intended to walk around to open the passenger-side door to get Tux, but the Lyft driver pulled away before he could.
“I banged on the back and passenger windows and screamed, running behind him, but he drove off,” Pandey said on X.
Distressed, Pandey attempted to contact the driver—offering to pay for the driver to return or meet the driver to pick up the cat—reportedly for hours, with no response. When the driver finally responded, the driver ultimately told Pandey that the cat was no longer in the car.
“They were not helpful at all,” Pandey said.
Six hours after the cat went missing, Lyft responded to Pandey’s pleas for help, telling Pandey that they were “sorry to hear that your cat was still in the vehicle when the driver drove off.”
“I can only imagine the anger and sadness you are feeling right now, as a cat owner myself,” Lyft’s representative, Yasmine, told Pandey.
Yasmine assured Pandey that Lyft had contacted the driver about “the urgent situation” and noted that if Pandey’s “item” was “returned by the driver,” he would see a “standard return fee of $20 for their time and effort.”
This only upset Pandey more, who swore, “I’m never using” this “godforsaken app again and advise everyone to do the same.”
Lyft promises to review policy
Lyft’s spokesperson did not directly respond to Ars’ request to comment on whether the driver or Yasmine responded appropriately to the situation but told Ars that Lyft would “continue to work directly with Palash to provide the support that they both need.”
“We are actively working with all involved to fully understand the situation—to help prevent it from happening again,” Lyft’s spokesperson told Ars. ” We’re evaluating our policies to improve support for our community, including in cases like this.”
Lyft’s pet policy for non-service animals says that passengers can request to bring pets on rides, but they must call for the driver’s permission ahead of the ride, and “it’s up to the driver to allow the passenger’s pet into their car.”
“If your driver doesn’t feel comfortable with having a pet in their car, you should cancel the ride and request a new one,” Lyft’s policy says. “If you’re charged a cancellation fee, contact us below, and we’ll take care of it.”
Pandey said in his X thread that the Lyft driver eventually told him that “he is allergic to cats and ‘would have canceled the ride if he knew I had a cat in the carrier.'”
“He said that he drove off quickly because he got startled,” Pandey wrote. “I am very doubtful.”
Of the millions of X users who saw Pandey’s story, many expressed support and attempted to join his quest to find his lost cat. As Tux’s story went viral and Pandey continued tagging @AskLyft for help, Lyft investigators got involved and found the cat approximately 1.2 miles from where Pandey was dropped off. Lyft’s team was able to catch the cat by cornering Tux on a staircase, wrapping the cat in a T-shirt, and then transferring Tux to a new cat carrier.
Pandey’s cat carrier was never found, and it’s still unclear if the Lyft driver or subsequent Lyft passengers removed the cat from the vehicle. For Pandey, the outpouring of support from X users helped him hold out hope that Tux would eventually be found.
“You guys have restored my faith in the community,” Pandey wrote.