Trapped in an Amazon return box: One Utah cat’s mistaken journey to California

Carrie Clark and Brandy Hunter meet at the veterinary office after Hunter helped rescue and reunite Galena.
Carrie Clark (left) and Brandy Hunter meet at the veterinary office after Hunter helped rescue and reunite Galena the cat with her family.
(Carrie Clark)
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Matt Clark needed to return five pairs of steel-toed work boots that he ordered from Amazon, so he packaged them up in a big box — along with the family cat.

Now, the family has a tale with a tail, all about the journey of Galena, a 6-year-old short-haired feline who traveled nearly 630 miles inside the sealed package from her home in Lehi, Utah, to an Amazon warehouse in Riverside in early April.

Clark’s wife, Carrie, said Galena loves to play in boxes, hide and hunt. She is known to be quiet. But nobody expected her to become a stowaway.


“Unfortunately, she’s not the kind of cat who makes noises, so she wasn’t speaking up for herself,” she said.

A seam in the return box had become unglued allowing for airflow for Galena to breath.
A seam in the return box had become unglued allowing for airflow for Galena to breath while snuggled up next to the five boxes of boots.
(Carrie Clark)

Galena’s accidental journey started April 10, when Matt Clark put the five boxes of boots in a 3-foot by 3-foot package.

The Clarks suspect Galena jumped into the box when Matt walked away to get a pair of scissors and tape to seal it.

Matt did not really inspect the box because he had already placed the boots inside. He sealed it up and took the large package to the local UPS store, which handles Amazon shipping, Carrie Clark said.

That evening, the Clarks and their two daughters noticed Galena wasn’t anywhere in the house.

For the next seven days, the family checked their house multiple times. They checked their neighborhood, nearby communities and the Jordan River that runs behind their home.

Clark said the family even enlisted friends and extended family in the search for Galena.

Galena, the 6 year old short hair, days after surviving her mistaken journey to California.
(Carrie Clark)

For an entire week, the distraught Clark family wept over their lost cat. They had started to give up hope when they got a text message and phone call from an out-of-state veterinary office on April 17.

The person on the other end of the line said they had scanned Galena’s microchip and found the Clarks’ information. Their cat was in California.

“I was in shock. I didn’t believe her,” Clark said.

The veterinarian passed the phone to Brandy Hunter, the Amazon Warehouse worker in the customer returns department in Riverside who helped rescue Galena.

“We adore Brandy, and we’re going to be forever grateful for what she did for our cat,” Clark said.

Hunter could not be reached for comment.

In a three-part Facebook post, Hunter said her coworker called her to say that they found a cat inside a return package. The adhesive on one of the box’s seals had come unglued, allowing for more airflow for Galena.

“My co-worker didn’t know what to do, so naturally ... she called me the crazy cat lady,” Hunter wrote on Facebook.


Hunter packed up her cat carrier, a blanket, cat food and water and drove to work to catch Galena. She took her to the veterinary’s office the following day. The post said Galena did not hesitate to get into Hunter’s carrier. She drank water but would not eat.

“We’re really pleased Brandy was able to help Galena reunite with her family,” said Alisa Carroll, a spokesperson for Amazon.

Clark and her husband booked a flight for California the next day to reunite with their furry family member.

“It was like a rescue mission and we got to have this big reunion with Galena and meet [Hunter],” Clark said.

Other than mild dehydration and a little weight loss, Galena was healthy.