Snickers, an eleven-week-old hairless kitten, flew from from a breeder in Utah to her new home in Connecticut in the supposedly climate-controlled cargo hold of a Delta Airlines plane. Her new family paid the airline $70 extra so she would be removed immediately. Instead, she sat under the plane for about 50 minutes, on a 10 degree Fahrenheit evening. When she finally met her family, she showed symptoms of severe hypothermia. They tried to warm her up and rushed to a vet, but it was too late.
A Delta spokeswoman told the Associated Press, “Regardless of the cause, we understand the impact the loss of an animal can have on a pet owner. We are turning our attention now to offering our condolences and discussing how we can provide some kind of restitution to support her during this time.”
The heartbroken adopter of the kitten wrote to a USA Today pet blogger, who described the difficult lesson learned from this situation.
She didn’t know one very important detail until she talked to the vet after the kitten died. He told her “climate control” basically ends after a plane lands. So if the animals sits on the runway for any length of time, it’s going to get hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It was 7 degrees, she says, when the kitten was sitting on the runway. She sat outside 50 minutes.
A final determination of the cat’s cause of death will come from the necropsy, but Snickers was cold, unable to move her head or paws, and bleeding from her mouth and nose–all symptoms of severe hypothermia in a cat.
“I feel so guilty. We sat there for nearly an hour,” the new owner told the Associated Press. “If I’d known, I would have thrown a fit. We just sat there. We had no idea she was dying.”