How one cat helps alleviate the stress of an entire fire department

Whenever I have a bad dream (which happens a lot because my stupid brain hardly ever gives me good dreams), my cats are always lying next to me, and their presence calms me down.

But, early this morning, when I awoke from a nightmare, my cats weren't there. I was about to yell their names when I remembered they weren't even in my apartment. And I started to have a panic attack without them.

My cats are currently staying at my boyfriend's place because I am moving this week, and I know they won't handle moving day well. Last night was my first night without them, and my anxiety has already raised exponentially.

Studies have shown that pets do, in fact, reduce anxiety. Positive human-animal interaction is proven to reduce psychological stress and increase oxytocin levels in the brain, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

And staff at the San Francisco Fire Department Station 49 can attest to this fact.

Edna, a tortoiseshell cat, has been living at the fire station for the last four years after she began visiting as a feral cat.

"Our jobs are very, very stressful. A lot of us see Edna as our little stress unit," the firefighters said in a statement to SFGate News. "She (became) our family. ... Now she is always there and is the most docile, loving baby."

Being a firefighter is listed as the second most stressful job in America (close behind enlisted military personnel). Everyday, firefighters risk their lives to save the lives of others. For many of us, we spend our work days sitting behind a computer. But, for firefighters, their work days can be tragic as they return to the station after hours of trying to combat a wildfire, after being unable to save someone, after nearly dying themselves or after dealing with the loss of a co-worker. After a day like that, returning to work to a therapy cat or dog greeting them can help these grieving and overworked firefighters.

But Station 49 is at risk of losing their little emotional support kitty. An anonymous person complained to the city about Edna being around the firefighting equipment, and the fire department was told to "get rid" of her. Management said, if the department doesn't met the deadline, animal control will be called.

The department has started a social media campaign on their Instagram using the hashtag #EdnaStays. They hope if they get enough support, it will convince management to let Edna stay. There is also a petition to save Edna the Fire Cat.

"We have just been asking people to make some noise so we can put up a decent fight to keep one of our valued members," the department said.

So here's my plea to management and to the city: Please let the fire department keep their therapy cat. With all they do for the citizens of your city, isn't this the least they deserve? Do you really want to take away that small joy in their work day? Do you really want to send this cat, who is heroic in her own way by helping these firefighters, to a shelter where she could be euthanized?

How can you say no to this face?!

Photos from the Instagram @fire_cat_edna

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  1. Edna should be allowed to stay. Cats are amazing creatures. I can't imagine my life with my Agent Kitty!