Jack the cat is stuck at JFK airport

Talk about being stuck at the airport.

[Update: August 31, 2011 2 p.m. west coast time: Jack still at large.]

For msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin I tracked down the story of Jack the cat today.

Jack has been on the loose in the American Airlines baggage center at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport for five days now and animal lovers on Facebook and Twitter are joining forces to urge the airline to get serious about finding this lost cat.

Here’s the story:

Karen Pascoe and her two adopted cats, Jack and Barry, were scheduled to fly American Airlines Flight 177 from JFK to San Francisco on Aug. 25, just ahead of Hurricane Irene. Pascoe was moving across the country with her two cats to start a new job in California.

The cats, too big to fit comfortably in one under-the-seat cat carrier, were flying in separate carriers as cargo. But shortly after the cats were checked in, Jack went missing.

“I said goodbye to cats and then went to get dinner,” said Pascoe. “And then I got a call from American letting me know Jack was out of the kennel.”

The cat didn’t appear when Pascoe went to the baggage area to call out to Jack. Pascoe had to leave without finding him because the other cat and the rest of her luggage were on the last flight to San Francisco. “That’s a giant baggage area, and he was nowhere to be found. At best I knew he was hiding somewhere,” said Pascoe.

Pascoe was assured the airline would keep looking for Jack and that she’d get a call with an update the next day. But no one called, and when Pascoe tried calling the baggage area on the weekend, no one answered the phone.

“I respect the fact that a hurricane was coming and things were a bit challenging,” said Pascoe, “but I didn’t hear from American until about 60 hours later.”

American’s silence prompted Pascoe’s sister to set up the “Jack the Cat is Lost in AA Baggage at JFK” Facebook page over the weekend, which quickly attracted mor than 2,000 fans. Many pet lovers also posted notes on American Airlines’ Facebook page urging them to find Jack, prompting the airline to post a response about its efforts to find the missing cat.

“Our JFK employees are using a variety of methods to try to find Jack, including setting cans of cat food by his kennel,” American Airlines spokesman Ed Martelle told msnbc.com. “Additionally, we are working with the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City to assist in providing humane animal traps … We offer our sincere regrets for this incident and are doing everything possible to locate him.”
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Pascoe credits Facebook and Twitter, and other animal lovers, with getting the airline to finally pay attention. She said she finally got a call from someone at American Airlines on Sunday and on Monday spoke with an assigned contact person in the airline’s central baggage claim department four times.

“I can’t help but feel a little frustrated that they didn’t have a better procedure in place,” said Pascoe, “but they’re finally stepping up and are on their game to help me.”

As of midday Tuesday, Jack the cat still hadn’t been found.