First Cat To Join Animal Ambassadors At Minneapolis Airport Helping To Calm Anxious Passengers

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Many of you out there may be nervous flyers. So you’ll be happy to know there is a unique program aimed at putting airline passengers at ease. At the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minnesota, travelers can visit with a group of special dogs whose only goal is to bring peace and smiles. But now, the very first cat has joined the ranks of the popular animal ambassadors!

And as far as animal ambassadors go, Stitches the cat is purrfect for the job! 

The sweet 11-year-old long haired torbie has been working as a therapy animal for about 3 years now. It’s primarily through Pet Partners and North Star Therapy Animals, who have a wonderfully unique group of animal helpers.

Not all North Star Therapy Animals say ‘bow wow’. We recently welcomed a pair of friendly and popular llamas – Zoe and Fred. another sweet kitty named Stitches, two new bunnies, Oreo and Blu, and an NSTA first, Luna the therapy rat. Pet Partners registers a total of nine species as therapy animals serving the community. And North Star Therapy Animals is pleased to have so many species represented among our members!

Stitches and her devoted owner Nikki Christopher, have donated their time and big hearts to helping at numerous events. Wherever there is a stress or anxiety, the amazing duo do all they can to replace the sad feelings with happy one. They visit nursing homes, attend cat shows and were even at the Minnesota State Fair.

Nikki also gives music lessons at her home in St. Paul, MN. Stitches is happy to welcome each student into their home and bask in their attention.

But beginning on Friday, November 8th, Stitches joined the elite team of animal ambassadors in their airport duties. 

Local news site the StarTribune announced the calming cats arrival at the busy airport.  

The 11-year-old feline, who makes the rounds on Fridays in the north rotunda in Terminal 1 and at the entrance to Concourse C, has helped relax anxious passengers who have stopped to cuddle and give the 13-pound cat neck rubs before getting on their flights.

In October 2015, the Airport Foundation brought registered therapy dogs to the airport. Since then, the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport’s Animal Ambassadors has become the third-largest program of its kind in the country and a treasured part of the airport community, spokesman John Anderson said.

Other airports around the country using therapy animals to help passengers overcome their fears before flying include Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix, Miami and Denver.

From this video shared by the airport on YouTube, it looks like Stitches is a hit with people of all ages! 

And I’m sure you’ll agree with me that a calm pilot and happy flight crew is ALWAYS a bonus!

Nikki and Stitches know wherever they go, they’ll leave smiles in their wake.

But Nikki needs to make sure that Stitches safety is still first and foremost. She rides around in a pet stroller donning the words “Pet Me!” on the side.

“She needs to be on a leash and in the stroller,” Christopher said. “It’s one of Pet Partners’ guidelines.”

While she gets to travel in her own privately operated “carriage”, the 96 canines in the program are more than happy to run up to weary travelers, tails wagging and flop on the floor for pets. 


So if you happen to be flying into or have a layover at the St. Paul Minnesota airport (MSP), be sure to stop by and see Stitches! She’s there “working” on Friday afternoon’s only for now, but there are so many other loving animals that will help you settle your soul. Just be ready to smile and don’t be late for your flight!

Let us know if you’ve ever visited the therapy animals here or at the other airports! Do you think it’s a good idea to offer this service as long as allergic passengers are avoided? That would be the biggest concern in my opinion, but that’s why the animals have their human “servants”. They are trained to avoid these situations and areas to eliminate allergic reactions to those around them.

Perhaps you are interested in becoming a volunteer or your pet has the perfect demeanor to join the program at MSP? If so, be sure to apply online today at


Related Story: Love Looking At Cats AND Pretty Homes? Now You Can Do Both In Minneapolis On A Cat Tour!

Related Story: Bear The Therapy Cat Forced To Retire After 7 Years Of Bringing Chemo Patients Comfort

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