After ending up thousands of miles away from home, a lost cat finally reunited with his worried family.
Panda disappeared from his Washington state home on October 8. At first, his owner Christina Clevenger said she didn’t worry too much when the cat didn’t go home because she knew he liked to wander their 40-acre property and explore the outdoors.
But once she and her husband realized that Panda had been gone for too long, they knew something was wrong.
“We had about a dozen people helping us look for some sort of sign or clue, like if he ended up getting caught by a coyote,” Christina told TODAY.
Despite their collective effort, Panda was nowhere to be found. On October 11, Christina posted a photo of the cat on several local Facebook groups, hoping someone who knew where he was would contact her.
They waited and waited but got no message from anyone.
Two weeks later, Christina’s husband’s aunt saw a photo of Panda on social media. She came running down to their home and asked her what color collar Panda was wearing.
“And I said a bright green one. And she turns her phone around and goes, ‘Isn’t this Panda?’” recalled Christina.
“I was holding my daughter’s little Chihuahua, and I hate to say this, but it’s true, I ended up dropping the little Chihuahua, and my phone,” she said. “I instantly started bawling. … The fact that she turned the phone around and he was right there, I lost it. I was emotional for the whole day.”
When Christina read all the details of the post, she was shocked to learn that Panda had been found thousands of miles away at a Home Depot in Kenai, Alaska.
She believes the cat had gotten into a boat or truck transporting a delivery to the store.
Once Christina got in the Facebook group where Panda’s photo had been posted, she discovered that an animal rescue group called United Angels was already taking steps to get him back home.
“It was amazing that they got a hold of us and jumped to help right away,” Christina said. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for (United Angels), we would probably have not gotten Panda back, because there was so many hoops to jump through.”
Christina then raised money to cover the cost of getting Panda back from Alaska.
First, the cat had to be taken to a veterinarian to be checked out and get a health certificate that would allow him to travel via plane. The vet said Panda had lost weight and was dehydrated, but he was still considered healthy.
Panda was flown from Kenai to Anchorage. He was then transferred to another airline, which took him from Alaska to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington, where his owners eagerly met him.
“It was hectic, but it was a good hectic,” Christina said. “I just want to thank everyone. I know that sounds cheesy, but everybody came together. They helped us get our baby home.”
Now that Panda is back home, Christina and her husband decided he should be kept inside all the time from now on. However, they’re making sure that it will still be an enjoyable experience for their beloved pet.
“He’s spending all of his time inside,” Christina said. “I learned my lesson the hard way … He got grounded permanently. We gave him more toys to play with; he gets more treats. He’s more spoiled than he ever was.”
It had been one heck of an adventure, and we’re so glad that Panda is now back in his owners’ arms!