Viral missing Lyft cat has been recovered and is ‘back to her usual self,’ owner says

An Austin cat owner went viral after a Lyft driver took off with his pet still in the back seat — and a company rep said he’d have to pay a $20 ‘returned item fee’ if the cat was found

The cat, named Tux, was recovered in Austin, Texas, after a Lyft driver drove away with the pet left in the back seat.

MarketWatch photo illustration/Lyft, iStockphoto

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The cat that went missing after a Lyft driver took off with the owner’s pet carrier in the backseat “is back to her usual self” the owner told MarketWatch.

Lyft’s CEO has apologized for the “awful” response the ride-share company gave to an Austin man whose cat went missing for almost two days after a Lyft LYFT, +12.02% driver sped off before the passenger could retrieve his pet.

Owner Palash Pandey went viral on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, when he tweeted a plea for help over the weekend in finding his 2-year-old black and white cat, Tux. He’d used Lyft to bring his pet to the vet on Sept. 30, but when he got out at the end of the trip — intending to go around to the other side of the vehicle to take his pet’s carrier out of the back seat — the driver drove off, despite Pandey banging on the window of the car.?

“I tried contacting the driver through Lyft. They were not helpful at all,” he tweeted. “You can only send three messages and call the driver three times. The driver didn’t respond for about 2 hours and then said that he didn’t have her.”?

The good news is, Tux was eventually found almost two days later thanks to the efforts of Lyft and the thousands of followers mobilized by Pandey’s thread.?

But the company’s initial response upset Pandey and many of his followers. In fact, Pandey tweeted screenshots of his conversation with a Lyft representative who, at one point, said the company would charge him a $20 “returned item fee” if the cat was found. This fee, which is part of Lyft’s terms of service, is commonly charged to people who leave phones, keys or bags with a driver.

Pandey’s call to find his missing cat went viral and elicited thousands of responses on

Pandey’s thread detailing his nearly two-day struggle to get his cat back had drawn more than 20 million impressions as of Monday morning, and even Lyft CEO David Risher was compelled to respond.

“We’ve been working on this for 24 hours. Our first response was awful, but we’ve now alerted every driver and rider in the area, and we’re not done. We’ve also spoken to the rider and driver multiple times. It’s heartbreaking for us too— please don’t think we’re taking this lightly,” Risher tweeted.

“They have been very supportive ever since the initial bad response. I really appreciate them hiring private investigators and helping look for Tux, I don’t think I would have found her otherwise,” Pandey told MarketWatch after Tux was found.

Lyft told MarketWatch that the company will be covering Pandey’s vet bills associated with his cat.

“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. We’ll continue to work directly with Palash to provide the support that they both need,” Lyft said.

“We are actively working with all involved to fully understand the situation – to help prevent it from happening again,” the company added. “We’re evaluating our policies to improve support for our community, including in cases like this.”

So what should you do if you leave something valuable behind the next time you use a ride-share service like Lyft or Uber?

If you lose or leave something behind during a Lyft ride, the company suggests you do the following:

  • Contact the driver directly through the Lyft app or the link in your email receipt – call or messaging are both applicable.
  • If you left the phone associated with your Lyft account in the car, then visit Lyft’s support page.
  • Review Lyft’s law enforcement support portal for specific inquiries surrounding lost items that may contain sensitive or personal information.

And Uber’s UBER, +1.72% lost items policy can be found below:

  • Reach out to Uber’s 24/7 customer support via its app, and Uber will connect you with the driver to get your lost item.
  • Visit Uber’s contact page if you left the phone associated with your account in an Uber.

Also keep in mind that Lyft’s pet policy (for non-service animals) states that passengers can bring pets along for the ride at the driver’s discretion, and drivers are not allowed to have any pets while driving. Uber has a similar pet policy, but it also created an Uber Pet option where users can get rides from drivers who have preapproved a pet companion as a rider. Uber Pet is available in only select cities.

“I think adding a pet mode or adding an emergency override in the app would be a good idea,” Pandey said about ways to stop this from happening in the future. “It was gut wrenching for me to wait for the driver to respond. If they can add an SOS feature where the driver is asked to safely pull over and respond before taking another passenger that would be a great idea.”

See also: A ride-share price war is brewing, and it could mean bad news for Lyft