Cat reunited with owner after Lyft trip separates them

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Local cat owner Palash Pandey was reunited with his cat, Tux, overnight Sunday into Monday morning after the two were separated following a rideshare trip on Saturday.

Pandey has posted updates on social media throughout his search for Tux.

Pandey told KXAN over the phone that investigators hired by Lyft found Tux about a mile away from where the driver dropped Pandey off, and he was alerted around 1:30 a.m. Monday. He said Tux is back home, ate food and drank water, and will be taken to a vet later Monday.

Palash Pandey’s cat, Tux

According to Pandey, he took the trip Saturday to bring his cat in for medical care at a Banfield Pet Hospital location on Research Boulevard in Austin. When they arrived, he exited the vehicle and went around to the other side in order to retrieve Tux’s carrier.

But before he could, the Lyft driver began to drive away.

“I like ran behind him, screaming like ‘wait, wait, wait,’ I banged on his windows hoping that he would notice me and just stop. But instead of that he just like, peeled off, he drove away,” Pandey said. “I don’t know how else you would perceive somebody who you just dropped off running behind you and banging on your windows and doors. I don’t know if there’s a charitable explanation for that.”

Pandey then attempted to contact the driver through the Lyft application, but did not receive a reply before using up the application’s message limit. He attempted to use Lyft’s live support but said it was unresponsive.

Palash Pandey holds a flyer asking for help to find his cat, Tux. (KXAN photo/Frank Martinez)

“We are aware of the situation and we’re currently in touch with the rider and driver,” said a Lyft spokesperson in a Sunday afternoon statement to KXAN.

In a statement to KXAN Sunday night, a Lyft spokesperson said they were in touch with Pandey “within minutes of his initial outreach.”

Note: the above video is from coverage on Sunday, Oct. 1.

“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 realize 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.”

Screenshot of Lyft notification sent at 10:02 p.m. Oct. 1, 2023, about missing cat, Tux. (KXAN Photo/Abigail Jones)

Pandey contacted the Austin Police Department about the incident, filed a report, and also posted about it on social media.

Around three hours after filing the police report, the driver called Pandey.

“He called me back saying that he doesn’t know where my cat is. He said that he had riders right out after my drop off, said that he went to pick up people right after he dropped me off,” Pandey said.

As he put up flyers on Sunday, Pandey said that he was encouraged by the community response to his online call for help.

“The community here is very nice. I’m hoping that somebody picked it up, took her in. I’m just hoping that I can find that person and get her back home,” he said.

He also said that Tux has a medical issue and needs veterinary attention.

Pandey posted detailed, real-time updates on Reddit and X (formerly Twitter) throughout his search for Tux.

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