Maya, a 12-week-old kitten, is seen at the Gardiner Public Library, where she is tasked with relieving the stress of humans who visit. Courtesy of Gardiner Public Library

GARDINER — Maya the 12-week-old kitten is Gardiner Public Library’s newest staff member.

Her job description? Relieve the stress of the library’s guests.

Around four weeks ago, one of the summer employees, Iris Ireland, was on her way to work when a kitten ran across the road in Whitefield, alone, and seemingly belonging to no one after Ireland checked with the few houses in the area.

“She texted me and said, ‘I might be a little late to work, I just found a cat,’ and I told her, ‘Bring it in and I’ll bring a carrier,'” said Dawn Thistle, the library director, who came equipped with kitten formula.

Since then, she has done a “great job” at soothing the humans who have sought her services, Thistle said.

Thistle said many guests have come in excited to see the tiny, black kitten with piercing blue eyes, especially families that can’t have a cat due to allergies. Maya is kept in a tent in a section of the library so if guests have allergies, they will not have to come in contact with her.

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“We have had a couple of people come in with a lot going on in their lives, and one person spent 20 minutes with Maya and it was exactly what they needed,” Thistle said. “She has a great ‘purr machine.'”

Scientists have said that the frequency of a cat’s purr can lower stress levels and blood pressure in humans and promote the healing of bones and tissue. Owning a cat can reduce the risk of a stroke or heart disease by up to a third, according to a study by researchers at the University of Minnesota. 

Thistle brings Maya home at night to be with her three other cats and back during the day to work as the so-called head of “Stress Relief Services” at the library, but only Thistle gets to bring Maya home.

“A lot of people want her to come home with them, but we joke, we can’t check her out!”

Gardiner’s Public Library is located at 125 Water St.

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