Denver Canine Aiport Therapy Squad (known as DEN CATS) has welcomed a new member unlike the others: Xeli, the lone cat in the squad. Don’t feel sorry for her though as this feline knows what she’s doing and fits right in.
Major airports around the world have implemented canine therapy squads on their premises. If you’ve recently been to an American or British airport, you might have spotted a cheerful animal wearing a “Pet Me” jacket.
This pet participates in the airport’s animal therapy program, designed to assist passengers in unwinding while waiting for their flights.
Despite their acronym, DEN CATS is a group of more than 80 dogs and one cat. The group comprises four-legged volunteers that thrill tourists with a friendly wag or fluffy snuggle.
It is one of the nation’s most significant airport therapeutic animal programs. Identifiable by their distinctive violet plaid “Pet Me” vests, DEN’s team is available for hugs, pets, and photos.
A gifted therapy cat
Xeli the cat, is accompanied by her two owners, Laine and Nathan, yet she’s the one who directs them.
According to Modern cat, the kitty instantly identifies passengers needing moral support and when she finds them, she starts pulling on her leash.
Her handlers once followed the cat to an elderly couple slumped over in their seats at one of Denver International Airport’s lounges.
Their return flight was canceled, and they’d spent endless hours attempting to return home, but at the sight of Xeli, the travelers livened up.
The tabby jumped onto their laps like she’s known them for years. Xeli reminded the senior couple of their previous pet.
The travelers spent some quality time with their new furry friend and on their way to their boarding gate, the whole family was merry. The family even made the remark that; ‘The highlight of their day was spending time with Xeli,’
That’s Xeli superpower. She can charm anyone, even the most cat-averse. With the exception of passengers who are allergic to cats, Xeli is so popular some travelers have asked to adopt her.
The tabby was discovered at a Petsmart adoption event and after meeting her, Nathan and Laine decided to keep her.
The kitten‘s gentle temperament made her owners realize she would be a perfect fit for a therapy program.
A rigorous selection
Kelly Gahn, the program manager, asserts that not all cats are suitable, essential requirements include a friendly and sociable nature.
After a pre-selection, budding CATS members go through a series of simulated real-life conditions, such as loud noises and canine neighbors. Then, a reputable national organization certifies the ones who succeed.
At the airport, the process continues, the pets must go through security, ride escalators, and hop on trains under the guidance of their handlers.
Once Xeli completed her training and the subsequent tests she joined the CATS program at Denver International Airport as their first actual cat. Her shift lasts two hours each month.
When she’s not at the terminal, Xeli hangs out with her siblings, three dogs, and two cats. She also likes to nap, lounge, and play with catnip.
She enjoys having visitors and giving a warm welcome to everyone.