It’s not every day that a cat makes the news. But then again, it’s not every day that a cat manages to travel 2500 miles, land up in a completely different state, yet still end up back in the arms of its very relieved owners. Yet that’s exactly the situation that happened to Panda, a tiny little feline whose appetite for adventure almost landed him in big trouble. If you’re in the mood for a story with a happy ending, you’ve come to just the right place. Here’s the story of a cat, a freight container, and a very unusual journey.
The Start of the Tale
Panda is a house cat who lives with his owners, Christina and Josh Clevenger, on their farm in Washington state. He’s a cat who likes to get out as much as possible: with 40 acres of farmyard at his disposal, he’s not short of places to explore. Whatever he gets up to when he’s gone, the Clevenger’s have never really minded. Providing he gets back in one piece, that’s all that matters. But then on 8th October, he didn’t come back at all. At first, Christina didn’t think too much of it – he was just having a longer than usual adventure, she assumed. But then as the hours stretched on, she began to worry. He’d never been gone this long before. Concerned for his wellbeing, she started to check around with her neighbors in case he’d wandered away from the farm.
“We had people helping us look for any sign or a clue,” she told Today. After a few days with no sign of the cat, she began to get desperate. Concerned that he’d got lost and couldn’t find his way home, she posted a picture of him to a few local social media groups. No one responded … but as luck would have it, someone else was posting a very similar picture at almost that very same time, a photo that would eventually lead to the little cat and Christina being reunited.
Panda’s Found… But in Alaska
When their cat went missing, the Clevenger’s assumed that he’d strayed into the surrounding neighborhoods. They were right about him straying, but wrong about the surrounding neighborhoods… something they found out a few days later when Josh’s aunt spotted a picture of a cat on social media that looked very familiar. But while the cat looked familiar, the location certainly didn’t. If it really was who she thought it was, then the couple’s pet was alive, well, but living in… Alaska! Confused as to how the cat had managed to travel all the way to another state, Josh’s aunt decided to check in with the couple to make sure it wasn’t just a look-alike. After checking with Christina if Panda’s collar was the same as the one being worn by the cat in the picture, the aunt showed her the post. She was so happy to see her missing pet, she instantly started sobbing in relief.
Confused but Happy
The picture confirmed that the Clevenger’s missing pet was alive. For a few minutes, that was all they cared about. But then they started to puzzle – how had their cat managed to get all the way to Alaska? He’d always been a fit young thing, but walking 2500 miles would have stretched even his capabilities. So how had he got there? After a while, the puzzle started to make sense. As The Animal Rescue Site explains, based on where the cat had been found (a store in Kenai), it looked like he’d decided to hitch a ride on a freight container without paying attention to where it was bound. After contacting the social media group that had posted the picture, the Clevenger’s discovered that an animal rescue center called United Angels were looking after the little cat. Best of all, the center was more than happy to help reunite them. “If it wasn’t for them, we would not have gotten him back,” Christina has since explained. “There were so many hoops to jump through.”
Planning the Return
She wasn’t wrong about the hoops. The little cat might have found it easy enough to get from Washington to Alaska, but the way back would be a little more challenging. But fortunately, the staff at United Angeles were eager to do as much as possible to make the reunion happen sooner rather than later. Together with the Clevengers, the center set about fundraising to cover the costs of the return journey. Before anything else, the cat needed to get a health certificate from a vet. His previous journey may have been free of red tape, but his next one was going to need all the usual documents to be stamped, sealed, then delivered. During the examination, the vet found that the cat had lost a little weight as a result of his adventures, but other than being slightly dehydrated (not to mention a little skinner than usual), he was in good health.
A few weeks after Panda’s adventure started, he was given the all-clear to make the journey home. As Christina’s since explained via People, the return journey was a lot more complicated than simply hitching a ride on a truck like the cat had done previously. First, he flew from Kenai to Anchorage. Once he arrived in Anchorage, he was handed over to another airline for the final stage of the flight. After landing in Washington’s Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he was greeted by his very relieved owners. From there, he was driven the rest of the way home in style. “It was hectic, but a good hectic,” his relieved owner has since shared “I want to thank everyone who helped us get him home.”
The End of the Adventure
Now that their pet is safely back home, the Clevenger’s have no plans on letting him out of their sight again. Despite his wander-lust, Panda’s been grounded – and it’s unlikely he’ll be leaving house arrest anytime soon. Although it’s unlikely he cares too much either way – since his return, he’s been treated like royalty, getting a heap of new toys and more treats than he knows what to do with. “He’s more spoiled now than he ever was,” Christina laughs.
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