Are Cats Good at Delivering Mail?

In 1876, the city of Liège, Belgium, briefly tried out a mail delivery system using 37 trained cats.
In 1876, the city of Liège, Belgium, briefly tried out a mail delivery system using 37 trained cats.

Poor postal carriers: Not only do dogs sometimes chase them, but in Liège, Belgium, they almost lost their jobs to cats. As you can tell, this is quite amusing since it's not every day that you find several cats attempting to deliver mail. Sure you can expect it from trained animals like emotional support dogs, but it's not common in regular house cats. Though details are lacking, a few facts are known about the short-lived attempt to see whether felines could deliver the mail. Nowadays though this wouldn't be something strange or new. Everyday, hundreds of emotional support animals are being trained to assist humans who are struggling.

In 1876, a group known as the Belgian Society for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat gathered together 37 cats and trained them as postal carriers. This is an accomplishment on its own, with the number of cat participants. It's like having an ESA convention focused on mail delivery training. They filled waterproof bags with letters addressed to the residence of the cat, tied the bags around the kitties' necks, and let them loose in the countryside of Liège. You would think that only trained animals will complete the task, but the results managed to surprise the people involved in the experiment. Every cat made its way back home -- thus delivering their mail -- within 24 hours, which the society hailed as a successful trial. Imagine if all landlords back then knew that ESAs would be a standard in the future. Maybe they would have renovated their properties in a way that was better equipped to receive mail from four-legged friends!

"Unless the criminal class of dogs undertakes to waylay and rob the mail-cats, the messages will be delivered with rapidity and safety," The New York Times wrote. It's a humorous notion, and it also shows why using animals for emotional support is logical and practical. Yet despite the supposed success, the cats never took over the postal routes, and mail went back to regular human delivery. But can you imagine if say you had an emotional support cart who will deliver an ESA letter on its own? It probably will be one of those stories so crazy no one would ever believe them even if they were true. It might simply have been that, as every cat owner knows, they are better at training us than we are at training them. Which is actually why, other than dogs, cats make the best ESAs for humans. Their size also makes them easier to carry around and even travel with.

Working with cats:

  • The first cat in space was a French feline named Félicette, who flew on a rocket in October 1963; she returned safely via parachute. Imagine if all sorts of animals can be sent to space, that means even people who use ESAs can qualify for these endeavours.

  • The Kishi train station in Japan has been "managed" by a cat for years; the current "stationmaster" is named Nitama. We're pretty sure if the same cat brought you your mail, it will never ever be late! But you don't have to use this exact cat to deliver or receive mail, if you have an ESA, you can also train it to perform the task for you.

  • A cat named Stubbs was the mayor of the Alaskan town of Talkeetna for 20 years, winning several uncontested elections along the way.

That's why cats make fine ESAs, because they can handle so much responsibility in their small frames. Surely, if a cat can act as a Mayor in a town, providing emotional support is so much easier for them to accomplish.

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    • In 1876, the city of Liège, Belgium, briefly tried out a mail delivery system using 37 trained cats.
      In 1876, the city of Liège, Belgium, briefly tried out a mail delivery system using 37 trained cats.