Therapy cat soothes passengers at Denver airport

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Xeli is certified by Pet Pet Partners, and is the first feline member of DIA’s support squad – the largest airport therapy animal program in the country. Photo courtesy of the Petco Foundation.

This friendly feline was hired to ease the stress of travelers at the Denver International Airport — and she’s doing a furbulous job!

There’s nothing more mind-numbing than killing time in an airport. Whether you’re waiting in anticipation of an exciting holiday or itching to get home to your own bed, even a few hours spent waiting to board a flight can seem like forever. Motivated to change this experience for their visitors, Denver International Airport (DIA) decided to add something special to their facility. In the fall of 2017, they invited Xeli, a trained therapy cat, to join their team.

Throughout October, the Petco Foundation recognizes Xeli and other “Helping Heroes,” who are therapy, service and working animals that have a significant effect on people across the nation. Photo courtesy of the Petco Foundation.

Since she was hired, Xeli has been bringing smiles to the faces of DIA’s passengers by boosting their moods and relieving their travel-induced anxiety. She volunteers in two-hour stints to prevent burnout, and is accompanied at all times by a human handler. During her shifts, travelers are invited to hug, pet and take photos with her. “We’re really excited to have Xeli,” says airport spokeswoman Emily Williams. “We know there are a lot of people who love cats just as much as people who love dogs. It’s been great having her on the concourse visiting people and making people smile.”

Video courtesy of the Petco Foundation.

Xeli is certified by Pet Pet Partners, and is the first feline member of DIA’s support squad – the largest airport therapy animal program in the country – which currently consists of more than 100 therapy dogs.

Planning to pass through DIA in the near future? Look for Xeli! She can be found wearing a blue, plaid “Pet Me” vest, and would be happy to offer you some much-needed cuddles!