Why Do 15,000 People Care About a Missing Cat At JFK? One Word: Facebook.

jack2 Why Do 15,000 People Care About a Missing Cat At JFK? One Word: Facebook.The story of Jack the Cat, lost by American Airlines baggage handlers at JFK International Airport, continues to captivate public attention six weeks later–as evidenced mostly by tweeting, clicking the Like button on Facebook and commenting on Facebook. This is a guest post by a Delaware-based “Friend of Jack,” Andrea Baumann, who writes about why she felt moved to join the 15,000 or so fans of “Jack The Cat is Lost in AA Baggage at JFK.”

I logged onto Facebook August 29th. There is an adorable little cat out there in cyber-land, called Willow. She has her own page because she’s “different”–she’s not everyone’s idea of a “normal cat.” Willow has a physical disability with a spunky, outgoing personality, which is showcased through the efforts of her family to show the world their version of a “normal” cat. Props to them. Willow commented on a news item–“omg! There’s a cat lost in the airport!” I clicked the link–what the heck, I thought, the noodles are still cooking–and began to read.

We need your help. Please–we have no way to do this alone. Our sheer frustration, worry and concern has brought us here to Facebook to share the story of Jack the Cat. The honest desperation just jumped off the screen as I scrolled. And didn’t click away. I was there on day two of the Facebook page, with just under 1,000 likes. Over the course of the next few days there were times I’d log in to see numbers doubling, tripling, and often it appeared people were caring and listening at the rate of one per a minute. I’d never seen anything like it.

Few people can sit down and write on Facebook something that propels strangers to care; act, or even keep reading. Maybe it was the writing, or the story, or the pure honesty of Karen (Jack’s owner) and Mary Beth’s statements, who from the very beginning were overwhelmed by the love and support. Maybe we–the public–are so starved for truth and sincerity that we latched onto the story and vowed to stick with them until Jack was found.

And stick with them we did; for almost five weeks–until day 35 rolled around–until the ticker clicked 15,000 likes on September 29th. What was in this story, or group, or mission, that had people all over the globe joining in with encouragement, blessings, advice, suggestions and thoughts? In such a short period of time I’d seen comments from Brazil, the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, France, and the one that we needed a spanish-speaking person to translate and post underneath for us, the best wishes for the quick recovery of Jack the Cat.

HOW was it possible that this one little cat could draw this assembly of fans?

What is so special about a long-haired debonair cat who looks as if he could be in show business? How did 15,000 fans like his page in a little over a month? And who are these many people spending hours on emails, flyers, posting, phone calls, walking the streets, etc., for a cat that is not theirs?

jack the cat 1 Why Do 15,000 People Care About a Missing Cat At JFK? One Word: Facebook.

Another photo of Jack.

I’ve been around the internet for a while; am familiar with websites, news blogs, social media. However, I never in a million years thought that an event happening the day after my 40th birthday in August would have me hooked; sucked in; addicted to watching a Facebook page. Was I–at my age–actually becoming a groupie?? Am I really following a fan site at all hours and even getting text updates sent to my phone?

Maybe it’s because we don’t get honesty a lot. Corporate biggies, mainstream advertising, media – they never give off the “We are really, truly sincere” vibe, do they? It’s sort of manipulative the way political news is fed to us; how we’re told to eat; where we should be shopping; what we should be driving. We all sort of watch the news with a cynical eye, right? So I’m betting that when something comes into our lives that looks real … FEELS real … appears genuine; maybe we just grab hold of that and hang on. Because the “rest” of the world is well, out to manipulate how we think and offer us only carefully-screened information, and deep down, I think we know that. And resent it.


  1. J. Arnsdorf says:

    Great post! In addition, I believe that with the current political and economic disillusionment,  people need a diversion or a small cause in which they feel they can actually make a difference. Hopefully, this cause has a “pawsitive” outcome. 

  2. J. Arnsdorf says:

    Great post! In addition, I believe that with the current political and economic disillusionment,  people need a diversion or a small cause in which they feel they can actually make a difference. Hopefully, this cause has a “pawsitive” outcome. 

  3. Angela C says:

    That cat isn’t going to be found!  I wish they’d just accept that; they’re delaying the inevitable.

    1. Megan says:

      you obviously don’t own any kind of pet or have children, because only parent or pet owner knows what it is like to have a lost pet or missing child. And would never say ” just accept that the cat isn’t going to be found”, because a parent knows never to give up hope of find their child. And Jack is like that wonderful woman’s child.

    2. Sonya A says:

      Why do you care? This sounds like a post from someone who wishes the story might go away…. AA? To me, this outcry is capitalism / supply and demand at its best. People have an interest in making sure their family and pets get where they should safely. This is a service that is paid for and offered – with tragic consequences, only now, people can be aware of it. Definitely to the benefit of all consumers and pets.

      1. Julia says:

        I don’t quite follow your reasoning, Sonya A, but I can tell you what I know for a FACT:  the writer of this post most certainly does not want this story to go away!  Well, yeah, she does:  with the safe return of Jack!!  She’s one of 15K who are deeply involved in seeing this through till the end.  And, so am I!

      2. Sonya A says:

        My Reply was to Angela C – somehow it isn’t tabbing correctly. I agree with you completely Julia.

    3. Marc Candels says:

      Another Village is missing their idiot and made her way on to this forum.

      Yes Jack will be found safe and sent home to Karen with or without AA’s help.

      1. Hinshar says:

        Oh I like that Marc…

      2. Julia says:

        And it’s pretty much a done deal that it will be without AA’s help.  There’s been no public movement on Jack’s behalf in at least 30 days.  

      3. Suz says:

        Shame on AA.

    4. Hinshar says:

      People with negative attitude like you shouldnt post.

    5. Smolderingiz says:

      Angela, I can’t even be angry with you, but I rerally do pity you for your lack of emotion, caring and compassion.  By the way, do you work for AA management?

    6. Marilynne says:

      Don’t you have something else to do, you crabby old bag?

    7. Nicole DiBona says:

      I am one of the searchers and believe whole heartedly that Jack will be found. It may not be tomorrow but it will happen and no thanks to people like yourself. I never met Karen but was asked by a mutual friend to help out. It’s a very small world. JFK may be big but it’s not as big as our love for Jack. I will never accept that American Airlines did very minimal to help find him. I will never accept how airlines don’t care about people and thier pets and I will never accept that Jack will not be found!

    8. Irishwoman says:

      Jack will be found; we don’t need negativity here…..go spread your attitude elsewhere!

    9. Lzbme01 says:

      You must be employed by AA? Sounds like you belong in their public relations dept.

    10. Allie L says:

      Jack WAS found Angela and he is under the care of a loving vet until he is well enough to go home. The world doesn’t need such negative comments such as yours. How about some positivity?

  4. Lexi says:

    AA banned you if you post something about JACK on their facebook page. This is a very ” mature” attitude! Shame on you AA!!!

    1. Suz says:

      My post was removed from their site, too!

  5. Smolderingiz says:

    Great article!  As one of Jack’s followers I can tell you what keeps us riled up and dedicated is love for the cat that AA obviously mishandled and just as importantly refuses to admit to.  Their engagement in helping find him has been meager at best and beset with lies.  They will even block you from their site if you post about Jack.   There so far are a few good things coming out of this –the friendship of Jack’s followers, the near unanimous promise to NOT use AA.  If AA thinks they will just get away with this quietly, they have a lot of karma yet to receive!!

    1. Julia says:

      Amen to that!  AA just doesn’t get how big this has gotten and will continue to get.  They thought that after a few weeks, everybody involved would give up, go on about their lives and forget.  Ain’t happenin’!  

    2. Irishwoman says:

      I had commented about Jack on their site….and when I looked for my comment, it was gone! Goes to show you they are hiding the truth……

  6. Irishwoman says:

    What a great, truthful article; I think of Jack each and every day and know how I would feel if one of my furry kids were lost through no fault of their own……thanks for speaking the truth!

  7. FoJ's Rock says:

    Friends of Jack, welcome anyone who wants to join the cause!  Just go to Facebook, enter “Jack The Cat is Lost in AA Baggage at JFK and “Like” it.  We love new volunteers – but a positive, can-do attitude is strongly desired.  ;)  

  8. Becca Moon says:

    Great article!  
    Why do over 15,000 people care about Jack?  This amazing thing we called life is full of hardships and struggles and it is important that we support each other.  No one walks alone…we should do what we can for others, in whatever capacity is available to us.  So it’s simple…Jack is lost and his family is hurting…we can help. 
    I may not be able to find Jack…but I can support efforts to do so. 
    I may not be able to ensure Jack’s health and safety…but I can pray for his comfort.
    I may not be able to heal Karen’s broken heart…but I can help her know that others care. 
    I may not be able to get American Airlines to improve their customer service…but…
    Jack is out there somewhere and he needs to go home to his family.  I have faith that Jack will be found!