Otis was found on the side of the road with a broken hip and foot. Now he is exploring the world with his mum.

We asked his mum, Lilly, to tell us all about him.

Tell us the story about how Otis came into your family.

The story of how I found Otis really is a miracle.

I was on a bike ride and still miles from home when I heard a kitten meowing. I pulled over on the side of the road to see where the noise was coming from and a tiny black kitten crawled out of a drainage pipe.

It was meowing fiercely and looked pretty beat up.

It came right up to me and allowed me to pick it up like it was asking to be rescued. It was too friendly and used to people to be a feral cat, but there were also not any houses nearby so I assumed the poor thing had been dumped by someone.

A few days later after taking the kitten to the vet I discovered it had a broken leg and foot, most likely from getting stuck in the fan belt of a car. I also found out it was a male kitten and only about 5 or 6 weeks old.

He had had such a rough start to life and most likely hadn't known love.

I knew then that I wanted more than anything else to turn this kitten's life around and give him the life he deserved.

Tell us the story behind Otis' name?

My family has a history of naming cats with names that start with the letter 'O', so it was only natural that I picked an O name for this kitten.

My parents have an Oscar, Opie, and Olive, and we now have an Otis as well!

He is also a little black kitten and reminded me of the Otis Spunkmeyer double chocolate chip muffins I used to eat for breakfast every morning.

So his full name became Otis Spunkmeyer!

What is Otis' favourite thing to do?

Otis loves to be outside and when he is in the house, he often sits at the back door and waits to go out.

When he is outside, he enjoys what we call "snorkeling" through the tall grass and playing with anything that moves. He also loves to climb trees and be up high, but needs a little boost while he figures out how to climb with his newly healed leg. 

When Otis is inside he loves to dig and play in our potted plants, which is a constant reminder of how much he loves the outdoors.

And like all cats, he loves to snuggle up on a fuzzy blanket in the sun and sleep away the afternoon.

We know you are passionate about black cats, tell us more.

Black cats matter!

There are many superstitions about black cats, the main one being that they bring you bad luck.

Unfortunately, black cats are targets for abuse around Halloween and most shelters won't even allow black cats to be adopted out in the month of October in fear they will be used in abusive rituals.

People need to know that just because a cat is black doesn't mean that it is any less of a cat than the other colors and patterns out there.

In fact, research shows that there are genetic mutations in black cats that make them resilient to illnesses!

My family owns three black cats (including Otis) and they bring us so much happiness!

What kind of cat adventures do you like to go on?

Any and all adventures!

Otis is still pretty young and learning what it takes to be a catexplorer, but when he is ready I plan to take him everywhere I can!

One of the smaller adventures that we like to go on is to the local coffee shop. They love and welcome pets and Otis has become quite popular there.

He loves to sit on the patio and watch the cars go by and get attention from people coming and going who have never seen a cat on a leash before.

Tell us about your most memorable adventure.

Since Otis is still so young we haven't been on very many adventures yet, but my most memorable adventure is the first big one we went on together.

I took him to a state park about 20 minutes from home.

It was the longest car ride he had been on up to that point and handled it very well! He sat on the middle console and wanted me to hold his paw the whole way!

We ended up walking almost 1 mile through the state park and I was very impressed with how well Otis did.

That was by far the longest he'd ever walked on a leash and he followed the path and stayed on the trail perfectly.

It was then that I realized how much he enjoyed being outside and how with a little training he could be a great catexplorer!

Why did you decide to train Otis?

Otis showed an interest in the outdoors very early on.

I assumed he spent most, if not all, of his life outside before I found him so it was a familiar place for him.

Training Otis to be a catexplorer and to be able to walk on a leash was the safest way that he could spend time outside exploring, and a great way for us to spend time together.

I am a very athletic person and I love the outdoors, so any outdoor activity that I can include Otis in the better!

How did you train Otis? 

Initially, I started training Otis by carrying him around outside with me to see how he reacted. I wanted him to get used to the noises and commotion of the outdoors so he wouldn't be afraid.

Once I learned Otis really enjoyed being outside I decided to train him as a catexplorer.

I purchased a soft kitten harness and leash and began by putting the harness on him while he was inside so that he could get used to it.

At first he acted like he was paralyzed with the harness on and wouldn't move!

It took some nudging and some treats to get him to see that he could walk just fine with the harness on.

I would put it on him for periods of time throughout the day to get him used to it. After several days, I began carrying him outside with his harness on.

Then I tried walking him on his leash and harness inside so that he could get used to the pull of the leash and learn the boundaries. After several days of that, I took him outside to the backyard and let him sniff and walk around as I followed him with the leash.

Once I saw that he was comfortable with that I began walking and gently tugging on the leash to get him to come with me.

He seemed a little insecure outside at first, which I think worked in my favor because he did not want to be left alone and followed me on the leash.

Since then he has done a tremendous job walking on his leash and going where I want him to go.

Every adventure we take together just builds his confidence!

What has been the most rewarding part of having a catexplorer?

For me, the most rewarding part so far has been to see how happy Otis is now and how much his life has turned around.

If left on the side of the road, Otis probably wouldn't have made it.

His life has taken a complete turn for the better and it makes me happy to see how happy he is and to see what a good life he has now.

It is also rewarding to know that you trained your catexplorer yourself and put it all the time and effort!

What has been the hardest?

The hardest part of having a catexplorer is finding or making time to take your cat on an adventure.

Sometimes I may have to put my plans on the back burner to take Otis outside, or adjust my weekend plans so that I can take him on an adventure.

Having a catexplorer doesn't stop after you've taken your cat on one adventure. It is something you have to continue to work on and commit time to.

But, when my plans involve something that I can include Otis in it's great!

In hindsight, what would you do differently?

I think I definitely could have spent more time working with Otis outside at a younger age.

I don't think you can spend too much time with your cat outside when you are in the training process.

Exposure is very important!

What advice would you give other humans training their catexplorers?

Start them young!

As long as it is safe to take your kitten outside I would begin getting them used to a harness/ leash and the outdoors as soon as possible. 

Patience is also very important when training a catexplorer.

Your cat is not always going to do what you want, and he or she may not even want to go outside sometimes. Have patience with your cat and keep working on their adventure skills.

It takes a lot of time and commitment.

Make sure you do not force them to do something that makes them uncomfortable or puts them in harm.

What are your favourite products for Otis?

A harness is a must for a catexplorer!

It allows them to safely walk on a leash without the risk of injuring their neck when pulling.

I also carry a small rubber collapsible bowl when I take Otis on adventures. I stop several times along the way and offer him water to make sure he stays hydrated. This bowl is the perfect size and takes up very little room when collapsed.

A colorful bandana or bow tie is also a fun accessory to show your cat's personality!

Is there another Catexplorer that inspires you?


Nathan was found in a box on the freeway so she had a similar upbringing as Otis, but is doing wonderful things now!

This kitty loves to swim (which I hope to get to with Otis one day) and go to the beach and is a great example of how amazing black cats are!

Follow Otis on Instagram (@otis_outdoors).