Cat Climbed into Amazon Return Box, Found Alive 630 Miles Away

Brandy Hunter
Galena in the return box.

Carrie Clark’s cat mysteriously went missing, causing her and her husband to panic. They posted on social media and distributed fliers in and around their neighborhood in Lehi, Utah.

“We were frantically searching for her for a week,” said Clark, whose 6-year-old indoor shorthair cat, Galena, disappeared on April 10. “We tore our home up trying to find her.”

Seven days into their search, they were beginning to lose hope. Then Clark got a call from Southern California: A veterinarian said Galena had been found 630 miles away from home. Clark thought it was some kind of prank.

“I was completely shocked,” Clark said. “I did not believe her.”

Courtesy of Carrie Clark
Galena, a 6-year-old shorthair cat.

Clark was told that Galena had been found at an Amazon return warehouse, inside a 3-by-3-foot cardboard box – next to several pairs of steel-toed boots that Clark’s husband, Matt Clark, had returned. Clark and her husband started sobbing.

“When we realized she was in that box, we broke down in tears,” Clark said.

The couple said they were overjoyed that Galena was safe but also distraught that she was trapped in a box for a week. How on earth, they wondered, did this happen?

They realized Galena must have slipped inside the return box while Matt Clark went to grab some tape to close it up. He sealed the box and didn’t give it another thought.

“She is the kind of cat who is very quiet and loves to hide,” said Carrie Clark. “She’s not a big meower.”

Clark said her husband didn’t hear a peep as he packaged up the box of shoes and delivered it to the post office. The parcel weighed about 35 pounds.

“Adding a little 10-pound cat in there, he didn’t even notice the weight difference,” Clark said.

Courtesy of Carrie Clark
Carrie Clark, left, with Brandy Hunter, a process assistant at Amazon in Riverside, Calif.

Galena spent six days – without food or water – trapped inside the cardboard box, until Amazon employees found her at 1 a.m. in Riverside, Calif. The story of the stowaway cat spread rapidly online and was reported by local news.

“They opened it and had eyes looking at them,” said Brandy Hunter, a process assistant at Amazon. “Everybody screamed because they had no idea what was looking at them.”

Hunter wasn’t working that evening, but she got a call from her co-worker who was on duty to let her know about the frightened-looking feline that arrived at the facility. Hunter – who calls herself a “crazy cat lady” and rescues cats in her spare time – grabbed a cat carrier, a blanket, food, water and dishes and drove there right away.

“She sounded frantic and scared and didn’t know what to do,” Hunter said of her co-worker.

When Hunter arrived, the cat seemed petrified and was huddled in the corner of a room.

“The cat was very disoriented and very weak,” Hunter said. “It’s absolutely incredible that she survived.”

There was a small split in one of the edges of the box, allowing air to flow to Galena, Clark said. Plus, the weather during the journey was relatively mild.

Hunter took Galena home that night. Based on the cat’s demeanor, including that she was willing to go into a carrier, “I knew she was somebody’s,” Hunter said. From the start, she believed whoever was responsible for shipping the box with the cat had no idea what they had done.

“I knew 100 percent this was an accident,” Hunter said. “There are so many people who don’t understand how this could happen, but they’ve obviously never owned a cat.”

She hoped the cat might have a microchip and brought her to the vet the following morning.

“I knew that backtracking this package through Amazon was going to take way longer,” she said, explaining that customer addresses are not visible to her and her co-workers for privacy reasons. “I knew the best option would be to check her chip.”

The vet was able to quickly identify Clark as Galena’s owner and gave her a call. The Clarks booked the next flight to Los Angeles.

“We jumped on a plane as fast as we could,” Clark said.

Hunter took Galena home for a second night and brought her back to the vet’s office for a checkup and to meet the Clarks.

“I was scared of what kind of shape she would be in,” Clark said.

Although Galena was dehydrated and had lost some weight, she was otherwise in good health.

“Mama’s here now,” Clark told Galena while holding her in her arms.

As a cat lover, the reunion was emotional for Hunter, too.

“It was the sweetest moment, and I’m so happy I got to be a part of it,” said Hunter, adding that in the two days she had Galena, she developed a soft spot for her. “I told Carrie that if it turned out she wasn’t microchipped, she would have been taken care of. I would have kept her.”

Clark is grateful Hunter kept Galena safe after the distressing ordeal.

“There are good people in this world,” Clark said. “Brandy Hunter is one of those people, and we are so thankful for all of her heroic efforts to save Galena.”

Hunter said she plans to stay in touch with Galena via FaceTime.

Galena arrived home on April 19 after a 10-hour drive, and the Clarks said they are still in disbelief that their cat is alive and well after an awful voyage.

“I can’t believe I have her back again,” Clark said. “The circumstances were just totally against us. How everything lined up to get her back has been miraculous.”

Clark knows Galena’s story very easily might not have had a happy ending and said she hopes others can learn from her husband’s mistake, and her cat’s sneaky ways.

“We encourage all pet owners to please consider microchipping their pets,” Clark said. “And triple-check those Amazon boxes.”