Shelter Kitten Becomes Adventure Cat

When her 21-year-old cat passed away, Sandra was devastated. She says she felt like a piece of her was missing, and couldn’t bring herself to get a new cat for months. Once she was ready, she spotted an 8-week-old kitten on Foothills Animal Shelter’s website. She was immediately drawn to his photo and decided to meet him. She arrived before the Shelter opened and waited patiently in the parking lot until she could visit with him. Once she did, she knew he was the right cat for her. In the visiting room, the tiny kitten was completely comfortable, scenting Sandra and walking around like he owned the place. She took him home as soon as she could.

An avid climber and adventurer, Sandra first saw a cat on a leash climbing in Joshua Tree about 10 years ago. Ever since then, Sandra knew she wanted the same, and she had a hunch the kitten from Foothills Animal Shelter would be just that. She named him Denali after Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak, certainly a fitting name for the future adventure cat.

Once Sandra brought Denali home, she started taking him everywhere. She fit him with a harness and started to train him to walk on a leash. By going everywhere with Sandra, Denali got used to all sorts of people, scents and sounds. Eventually, Sandra started taking Denali to the climbing gym where he learned to climb with her. Denali’s safety always comes first and Sandra climbs with Denali secured in a backpack. While you might think a cat would squirm and try to get out of a pack, Denali is never more relaxed than when he is climbing with Sandra. He completely chills out and actually spends most of the time grooming himself.

After adventuring together for the past year, Denali has now been indoor and outdoor climbing all over and he loves it. He comes running when Sandra pulls out his harness, and sits and purrs while she puts it on because he knows a new adventure awaits him. He’s even somewhat of a celebrity at a climbing gym in Boulder. Sandra says that Denali absolutely loves the outdoors. “He has an absolute ball each time,” says Sandra. “There are rocks to climb, trees to climb, little rocks to chase in the dirt, bugs to chase. Most climbers are animal lovers, so there is always a stranger’s arms to be held and hugged in, or a lap to take a cat nap in.”

In the past few months, Denali and Sandra have even become somewhat famous! The two were recently featured in a story on and will be featured in the upcoming issue of Your Cat Magazine. From humble beginnings as a shelter kitten, Denali sure has lived up to his big name.

If you want to stay up-to-date on Denali’s adventures, make sure to follow him on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube!


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