Nervous travelers passing through this US airport can now ease their anxieties with Stitches, an emotional support cat.
Minneapolis St Paul Airport recently welcomed its first therapy cat. Stitches, an 11-year-old, medium-haired Tabico (a mixture of Calico and Tabby) made her debut on Monday morning, delighting travelers in the airport mall. Stitches is the only cat to join the airport's Animal Ambassador teams. The other 96 members are dogs but we're told she'll fit right in. This is a seasoned professional with years of calming nerves and bringing joy to people under her collar.
Stitches has been an official therapy cat for the past three years, registered through Pet Partners, a nonprofit that manages emotional support animals. She and her owner Nikki Crawford are also members of the local chapter of North Star Therapy Animals. The cat showed up for work at MSP wearing a rose-style collar and sitting in a stroller, especially designed for animals of her age and size. "She needs to be on a leash and in the stroller," explained Christopher. "It’s one of Pet Partners’ guidelines."
When not making weekly appearances at Terminal 1, Stitches visits residents of local nursing home and is tasked with greeting music students who arrive to Christopher's house in St Paul for harp and piano lessons. For her downtime, the middle-aged cat likes to unwind by watching episodes of Law & Order, SVU with her owner. According to Christopher, she "likes the sound of Ice T's voice."
Many airports throughout the US have therapy animals to help anxious passengers relax and feel more at ease before boarding their flight. One of the more unusual pets is LiLou, San Francisco International Airport's five-year-old Juliana-breed pig. LiLou is part of 'Wag Brigade' - the airport's therapy animal program. She can usually be found dressed in a pilot’s cap and with toenails painted bright red, accompanied by her owner Tatyana Danilova.
"People are very happy to get distracted from the travel, from their routines, whether they’re flying on their journey for vacation or work,” Danilova told Reuters. "Everybody is usually very happy and it makes them pause for a second and smile and be like, ‘oh, it’s great.’"