Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Kitten Dies Needlessly

We interrupt normal proceedings of the Tortureshell variety to bring you some very important and very upsetting news that we found yesterday. We feel that it is important and needs to be spread as wiedly as possible. We'd appreciate it if you made mention on your blogs too. The more publicity this gets, the more chance there is of something being done about it.

Warning, the story below is very upsetting. Please be aware of this before you read further.

This is the tale as written by the people of a kitten who was needlessly killed by neglegence from Delta Airlines. If you want to see a picture of her, I believe Pedda's Blog
has one of her at nine weeks old.

Kitten Dies on Delta Airlines

Hi Everyone, Last night our family experienced the worst tragedy I have ever personally experienced & I wanted to post this hoping to reach as many Sphynx cat owners & breeders as I possibly can.

We purchased an 11 week old Sphynx kitten from a breeder & her flight was scheduled to come in last night at 8:40PM on Delta Flight # 738 into BDL (Hartford). (Climate controlled cargo by Delta Dash)

We arrived at the airport at 8:15pm, camera & 2 kids in hand to pick up our long awaited new arrival. We immediately went to baggage claim where we would pick her up from her long flight from Utah.

When we arrived, we were told to go sit by the conveyors for luggage & that as soon as the plane was unloaded, they would bring our new family member out to us. We waited & waited & at 8:50 I went to the baggage claim & asked for an update. I told the woman that the kitten was a Sphynx & had no hair & that I was beginning to worry since it was only 7 degrees outside. I was told the flight had arrived on time (8:40pm), but to sit back down, that the cargo hold latch was stuck, but they were doing all they could & would bring her out as soon as they could.

I wasn't incredibly alarmed, After all, I paid $290 for her to be in a climate controlled cargo area. I figured she would be fine as long as she wasn't outdoors. At 9:30pm, they brought the carrier out to me & the woman who handed the carrier to me told me I should take her out & that the carrier was very cold. She removed the zip ties & I took the carrier to the floor & opened the door.

The kitten was ICE cold, limp, and unresponsive. I IMMEDIATELY put her into my coat, grabbed my kids by the hands & ran out of the airport to get her into my car & cranked up the heat putting all vents on her as I rubbed her trying to warm her up.

She couldn't lift or control any limbs, her breathing was labored, she had a blank stare in her eyes, and she let out a meow. As if to say help me -- please.

We rushed her to the emergency vet clinic, but to my utter devastation, on the drive, she let out a blood curdling cry & went completely limp as we frantically drove to the vet.

When we arrived, I literally ran in, and gave her to the nurse who whisked her into the back. After 10 minutes, a vet came out & told me that she that she was "DOA" and that there was nothing they could have done to save her. There was nothing I could have done to save her either.

The vet then explained to me that once a plane lands, the cargo compartment depressurizes & there is no longer climate control. She told me that she didn't stand a chance in this freezing weather sitting in the Delta Cargo hold for almost 50 minutes.

I spent the rest of the night last night crying & more or less having a nervous breakdown. She died cold, lonely & scared. Her last hour of life was spent frozen & unable to escape. I am so utterly devastated -- I cannot express to anyone how this feels. I am so sad for her, her little 11 week life lost for no reason. A tragedy that could have been prevented if the airline had valued her little promising life.

Delta didn't have much to say to me last night & I am waiting for the president of cargo to call me today, the bottom line is that they can't bring her back to me or my family, there is nothing they can say or do to make this whole. We don't want a new kitten, we fell in love with HER. She was our new child & there is nothing that can be done to bring her home to us. Snickers lost her life unnecessarily.

I just hope that by reading this, I can save someone else the devastation. If you are buying a kitten & live in a cold climate -- PLEASE RETHINK SHIPMENT WHEN IT IS BELOW 30 degrees. If you are a breeder -- PLEASE RETHINK SHIPMENT if you are shipping to an area below 30 degrees. You can put a kitten in a climate controlled cargo, but if it depressurizes -- IT IS NO LONGER CLIMATE CONTROLLED.

Please please please don't let another kitten die, be patient, let it warm up a bit. As we all know, these hairless creatures are the most loving wonderful animals, but they just don't stand a chance against a cargo area that is utterly freezing with employees who are more concerned with getting luggage to their respective owners. Value life everyone, I have just experienced something I pray no one here has too. Don't let Snickers lost life be in vain, I pray you guys read this & maybe another kittens life won't be lost to the cold & lonely Delta Cargo holds.

If you want to read the original thread that the story was posted on, please click Here

Tips for Flying with Animals

In response to reading this, the human and I thought that we should put together our thoughts on safe travel with a pet in an airline. From the start we'll admit that the human's never put a cat on a plane before, and I can't tell you what it's like cuz I've never travelled that way either. But common sense and a lot of reading have given us the insight for the below points. Bet you can't guess which ones I submitted?


Aircrafts, however climate controlled they are, or pretend to be, still can get pretty cold. A kitten doesn't even begin to regulate its own body temperature until 4-6 weeks old, and it doesn't have total control until about 16 weeks of age. The younger the cat, the more prone to cold it is. Very old cats are also prone to feeling it more, but even a healthy cat can freeze in a short period, especially if it's used to being kept always in a house.

A PTU means that, even if we want to, we can't escape the cold, so it's important to provide us with enough cosy warmth in there. Lots of blankets are a must, and the warmer, the better. We should be able to snuggle right down and bury ourselves in it if we need to so that we're out of all draughts. Snugglesacks, sleeping bags for cats, are also very useful. For hairless cats or short-haired kittens, a sweater will also help, but do be aware that if it doesn't fit snugly, the cat may try and escape and end up tangled in it. If the airline will allow it, it's worthwhile wrapping a heat pack in layers of towel and placing it at one end of the PTU to provide extra warmth.


This is a very important part of any journey. Some airlines suggest that food is removed before flying, but if you ask me, that's just wrong! Only the best, freshest tuna, the most juicey prawns and the total contents of a whole bag of treats will sustain your precious cargo long enough for it to reach the other end. The human says I have to tell you I'm joking so that you know that your cat can survive without it, but I'm not admitting that, even under torture! If I do, it means she'll know that my "I'm starving, feed me or I might just faint right this minute" lost kitten miaow doesn't indicate the dire circumstances it pretends to! The human says that it's fine for a cat to be without food for a few hours, but I don't agree. If you value your cat's sanity, then feed fish and treats. It's the only way!


It's very important that your cat has water at all times. This should be provided in a bowl which attaches to the door of the PTU. This way, it can be refilled easily and won't spill over on top of them. If they are travelling in the height of summer, it might be a good idea to freeze water as ice cubes, as the cat will have fresh, cold water as the ice melts. Here it's also important to note that as well as getting too cold, cats can also over-heat. See my next point. Obviously, if it's winter and very cold, freezing the water isn't going to be such a bright idea.

Too hot to handle?

Temperatures can reach staggering proportions in some parts of the world, and this can be just as dangerous to your companion as cold can. Long-haired cats suffer the most here, unfortunately. When I went to my first show I got too hot, and that was without me being stuck in a stuffy cargo hold or left sitting in the sun for a long time. My human was able to keep me cool with ice and fanning and that sort of thing, but if you're on a plane, you won't have a handy people to cool you down. Suggest to them that they pack an ice-pack wrapped in layers of towel in with you. When you're packing though, whether it's a heat pack or a cold one, you must also make sure that the PTU is big enough to allow the kitten or cat to move away from the pack to equalise body temperature if necessary. This is super important, as without the room to do this, you could be causing the problems you're trying to avoid. Imagine lying on a block of ice for hours. You'd get far too cold!


This is an absolute must, even if you're only in a PTU for a short period of time. It's insensible and frankly insensitive of peoples to think that cats can survive in a PTU or in any area that doesn't have at least a gazillion ping pong balls in it. Sure you might be a bit squashed and pressed for space, but it's worth it to make sure that the ping pong balls make it to their new home safely. The peoples won't leave you behind, so if you have them in with you, they can't leave the balls behind either. A stuffed or rope mousey can also make for good company on the long journey, and when you get tired of conversation, he's fun for bunny-kicking.


Some airlines are more pet friendly than others. Some are dedicated only to animal transport while others treat us as no more than a noisy piece of luggage that needs to be tolerated rather than loved. I don't understand this myself, but they continue to take this attitude. Delta have many reported animal deaths every year, so unless you're flying with your peoples in the cabbin, I'd probably give that one a miss unless you're being transported at a time of the year when the weather is mild and comfortable. If at all possible, I'd make your peoples drive you there rather than flying at all, but I know that isn't always an option.

I hope some of those thoughts will help you if you are ever considering allowing your peoples to fly with you. Keep a close eye on them, friends, and make sure you're put at as little danger as possible! Today my human and I think of the family who didn't get lucky, of the kitten who was really too young to leave her mummycat and go travelling on her very own, and of the breeder who must be feeling the loss more than anyone as she knew the kitten for the longest. Let us hope that nothing like this ever happens again. If this post saves only one life, then we have made a difference. Perhaps the post on your blog will only add to the life saving that we can all accomplish together.


Torie said...

Awwww that was such a heart breaking story. How could someone do such a thing. I think the woman should soo the airline. I mean if a passenger died would they take the same attitude?

Take care, and keep warm! Xxx.

Us4 Cats said...

we read about this earlier. it is heartbreaking !!

Cloon said...

We can't believe how sad and heart-wrenching this story is...there are not even words to describe it. Our prayers to the family and our purrs to the innocent one...Be Well Sweet Snickers.

ML said...

Delta Airlines lost my Labrador Retriever for over 12 hours on a flight from Norfolk VA to Dallas TX. Then it took another 6 hours for them to get her to me. At she was alive when we were reunited.
I have never flown Delta since.
That poor kitten, Snickers, she paid for their incompetence with her life.

Freya's Staff said...

If Delta killed an animal through neglect, and caused it undue suffering and cruelty, then (I believe at least in the UK) they could be subject to a croiminal prosecution. I guess the ASPCA could advise on that.

Alexi said...

I think we need to realize the breeder who probably also shipped the kitten bears responsibility for this- not the airline. The airline simply ships what they are paid to ship. The breeder is at fault. The new owners should ask for a replacement kitten and ask for a refund of the money they paid for shipping.

Junior and Orion said...

I lay blame all the way around on this one. Did the new "owner' exhaust all breeders and rescues closer, within driving distance, to her own home? The breeder should have never shipped the kitten on a flight in extreme conditions even if it was climate controlled. If one is that willing to get an animal from out of state, why not spend the extra money and fly with it? This way the animal, if small enough, goes on the plane with a person, not in the climate controlled section of the plane. AND, Delta, knowing that they had animal(s) in the climate controlled section should have never turned off the plane till they knew, without a doubt, that the animal(s) were unloaded. Honestly I wonder if the climate controlled section was a good idea at all for a hairless kitten.

I do feel badly for the people that wanted this kitten, but I also blame them, along with the breeder and Delta, for the loss of this kittens life.

Ultimately, another animal has paid the price for humans stupidity.


Anonymous said...

I don't blame the breeder at all. Yes, she should have recommended to Snicker's owner that she wait to ship the kitten until it is at least above 35 degrees. BUT, the owner payed for Climate Controlled shipping. It's easy to point fingers and say that it's the owners fault too. But, if you have never dealt with this before, then HOW would you know that this would happen? You wouldn't.

In my opinion, Delta should be held responsible for the death of this poor kitten...It's devestating.

The Lee County Clowder said...

We are sorry to hear about Snickers. The whole thing must have been devastating.

The breeder and new pawrents all tried to do the right thing, and Delta just messed everything up.

Alexi said...

Meowm, I agree there is plenty of blame to go around, the vet who signed the health certificate, the breeder who shipped the kitten, Delta for not getting the hold open quick enough. This kitten should never have been shipped in cold times. Even Delta has minimum and maximum temp. guidelines. Living in the south, summer's hot temps are more problematic than cold temperatures. I have delayed shipping or had the owner fly to pick up the kitten. I agree this kitten's death is the result of a lot of human stupidity.