Traveling during the holidays can be stressful. According to a 2017 Ebates Holiday Survey, 1 in 10 Americans says that traveling is the most stressful part of their holiday experience.
But if you’re lucky enough to be traveling through the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, your holiday journey may actually go purrfectly. That’ss because the airport just added a “therapy cat” to their staff.
The airport announced the news on their Twitter account:
We are very excited to introduce Stitches, the first feline to join our Animal Ambassador crew! Stitches will be available for pets and neck scratches in Terminal 1's mall from 3 to 5 p.m. today. pic.twitter.com/kBuIKFF5EF
— MSP Airport (@mspairport) November 8, 2019
Predictably, the cat-lovers of the Internet are sort of freaking out about this news.
Oh please let there be an animal or two for me to pet before I board a plane on Black Friday…
— Marie Kopp (@mkopp1) November 9, 2019
And Twitter user @JasonKorstad wonders if Stitches will be able to help out with those infamously long lines at security:
Stitches is a trained therapy cat who helps supports airline travelers by offering lots of love and snuggles. Her owner, Nikki Christopher, accompanies her on this mission, although the 11-year-old feline is no newbie. She has worked for years as a therapy animal with the North Star Therapy Animals program and is now a proud member of the 96 Animal Ambassador program. And she just so happens to be the only member who is not a dog, making her something special indeed.
This program is funded and led by the Airport Foundation MSP, which is dedicated to helping travelers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have a more enjoyable travel experience.
Those from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs explain that therapy dogs have become very popular in recent years, particularly since the terror attacks of 9/11.
“Their goal was to help flyers who were understandably nervous about their flights to calm down,” reads the copy on the Alliance’s website. “They were so successful that videos of passengers reacting to these pet therapy dogs convinced airports around the country to start implementing their own programs. The programs have today become so widespread and integral to the airport’s success helping passengers de-stress.”
In fact, research has proven the effectiveness of comfort animals in reducing stress and anxiety. Animals can have positive physical benefits on our health, helping to lower blood pressure and diminish pain, among other things.
And according to UCLA Health, interacting with animals can promote the release of serotonin and oxytocin, hormones that can help to relax us and improve our moods. Considering how frazzled people get while traveling, it’s easy to see that emotional support animals at the airport can be beneficial.
Contact the MSP Airport to find locations and times to meet Stitches or any of the other emotional support animals in the 96 Animal Ambassador Program.