The Austin-based pet owner, Palash Pandey, took to X, formerly known as Twitter, on 2 October to reveal that Tux had been found, days after posting a handful of tweets about the search for her. Speaking to local news station KXAN, Pandey revealed that his pet was discovered about a mile away from Banfield Pet Hospital, where he had initially been dropped off. He added that he was contacted about Tux at around 1.30am on 2 October.
On 30 September, he first revealed how the pet was lost, explaining that when he was leaving his Lyft car, the driver took off while Tux was still in the vehicle.
“I was taking my cat to a vet appointment, I was sitting behind the driver and had the cat carrier on the floor of the passenger side back seat,” he wrote.
He shared a series of follow-up posts to detail the situation of how he got separated from the pet, writing: “I got off from the driver side door and started walking to the passenger side door to pick her up. Before I could open the door, the driver started driving. I banged on the back and passenger windows and screamed running behind him, but he drove off.”
Pandey claimed that when he tried to contact the driver through Lyft, the application was “not helpful at all”, noting that users can only send three messages and three calls to the driver through the app. He added that once the driver responded, “about two hours” after he’d sent the message, the Lyft worker told him that he didn’t have Tux.
After explaining that he went on to call 911 and 311 to file a report, he later shared the email that he received from Lyft about the incident. According to the screenshot of the email, the Lyft associate expressed their sympathies to Pandey after he lost his cat, before noting that if his pet was returned to him by the driver, he’d “see a standard item fee of $20 for their time and effort”.
“Thank you for showing such amazing empathy and grace,” Pandey tweeted, along with a screenshot of the email. However, he also noted that he wasn’t pleased with Lyft, and said he still took issue with the additional charge mentioned, adding: “The first thing that I’m concerned about right now is the $20 return fee on return of my ‘item.’ I’m never using [this] godforsaken app again and advise everyone to do the same.”
In another update, shared on 1 October, Pandey claimed that he was contacted by the driver, who allegedly said that he is “allergic to cats and ‘would have cancelled the ride if he knew [there was] a cat in the carrier.’” According to the pet owner, the driver also said that he “drove off quickly because he got startled,” before noting that he picked up many other passengers after Pandey.
Throughout the search process, Pandey shared a series of tweets tagging Lyft, asking if the company had any information on where the passengers after him could have been dropped off. He also shared a lost pet poster, which included a photo of the black and white cat.
In his tweet about Tux’s rescue, he revealed that while she was found inside a real estate agency building in Austin, she was not found “in her carrier”. He also shared snippets from an investigator who found her, quoting “Cat ran up a set of stairs on the back of the building next to it. The team was able to get her caught up at the top of the stairs and she was too scared to jump from up there”.
“I was able to give my over shirt to the team member at top of the stairs to wrap her up in and had an extra cat carrier that I brought with me just in case of,” the snippet from the investigation continued.
Pandey added that after reuniting with Tux, she looked “very tired,” was “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 stabilises a bit,” he wrote, before sharing another tweet to criticise the person who allegedly stole her, with claims that the person “saw what was coming for him and left [Tux] on the side of the road”.
During the search for Tux, Lyft’s CEO, David Risher, took to X to explain that his company informed Lyft “drivers and riders in Austin to be on the lookout” for the cat.
He also asked people not to “vilify the driver” of Pandey’s Lyft, claiming the driver received “unwarranted threats and is just as distraught as we all are”. Rich later added the driver’s account had been “deactivated” for now. However, he also said that after speaking with the driver, “it’s clear things are somewhat more complicated than they first appear”.
In a statement to KXAN on 1 October, before Tux was found, a spokesperson for Lyft said they were in touch with Pandey “within minutes of his initial outreach”.
“In addition to communicating with Palesh, we have been directly in touch with the driver and other passengers that rode with him following the ride with Palesh,” the spokesperson said. “We realise we could have done better in communicating regular updates to Palesh and the community. We all want the same outcome – for Tux to get home safely – and will keep the community posted.”
After Tux was found, Lyft also shared a statement on X, writing: “We’re focused on making sure Tux has everything she needs right now. We are actively working with all involved to fully understand the situation. We must do better in how we support our community. And, we will.”
The Independent has contacted Pandey and Lyft for comment.