Jack the cat, who gained unlikely renown after going missing in August at JFK Airport, died Sunday night after battling critical wounds since being found on Oct. 25.
“It is with tears that I must tell you that Jack has gone over the rainbow bridge,” said a note posted by Mary Beth Melchior Sunday evening on Jack’s Facebook page. “Jack had extensive wounds on the back of his body, and the wounds were unable to heal because his skin had deteriorated due to the malnutrition that occurred while he was lost.”
On Aug. 25, the 7-year-old male cat went missing from his carrier after his owner, Karen Pascoe, checked him into baggage on an American Airlines flight bound for California. In the 61 days that passed, Jack’s cause grew, and the Facebook page set up to document the search efforts eventually amassed more than 20,000 fans.
When he reappeared in a customs office at the airport two months later, Jack was severely malnourished and was taken in critical condition to BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Queens.
On Friday, the hospital had upgraded Jack’s condition from critical to serious and stable, but despite having made improvements, Jack took a turn for the worse the next day.
“After pursuing every possible path for recovery, the specialists at BluePearl Veterinary Partners had to make the sad recommendation to have Jack the Cat euthanized earlier this evening,” says Joanne Lynch, media and public relations manager at BluePearl Veterinary Partners. “Jack had already been through so much it didn’t make sense for him to suffer through more treatments that offered little or no chance of survival.”
“We want people to understand the risks that attend putting an animal in cargo, and we hope to spur change in the industry so that no one else ever has to go through this again,” reads Melchior’s Facebook note. “We honor Jack, we honor all the other animals who have been killed, injured, or lost while being transported through cargo procedures, and we honor all of you who have taken the time to share your kindness and love with us.”
Update: American Airlines offered condolences in an official statement. “We are deeply saddened that Jack has passed away, and we offer profound sympathy to Jack s owner, Karen Pascoe, for her loss. Our heart also goes out to the Friends of Jack and those in the cat-loving community who have grown fond of Jack since he went missing. We understand that a cat is a beloved family member for so many, including our own employees.”
[RELATED_TEXT “Can’t get enough pet news? See more on PEOPLE Pets