As a cat parent, you are fully aware of all the benefits of having a feline companion. They are a source of comfort during troubling times, particularly when you are alone. Their antics can help to cheer up even the gloomiest days. And, if all else fails, their demands will keep you busy enough to forget about your problems.
So, considering just how much a cat can do for you, it is only natural to wonder if they can be considered an emotional support animal. Well, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you may imagine. This is because there are many different factors to consider.
To truly appreciate whether your kitty can be an emotional support animal, you need to be aware of the following facts:
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
The first thing that you may be wondering about is what an emotional support animal does. As the name suggests, ESAs are prescribed to individuals who may suffer from an array of emotional or mental health concerns. These animals can help to calm, stabilize, or soothe their humans.
Unlike service animals, emotional support animals don’t have to be trained to perform a certain function. In most instances, people get comfort from their ESAs simply by having them around. However, some animals maybe be trained to help to detect or relieve certain symptoms.
Emotional Support Animals vs. Service Animals
You also need to understand the difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal. Although some people may use these terms interchangeably, they are quite different. As mentioned, service animals are trained to help people with physical or psychiatric issues.
There is also the fact that there are specific laws protecting service animals. Under these, service animals enjoy certain freedoms. This includes having access to virtually all types of housing and being able to go to most public and private areas.
In many instances, service dogs are also welcomed in workplaces. Since they are considered a detrimental part of their owners’ lives, they face very little restriction. Nevertheless, service animals are almost exclusively dogs – the law doesn’t allow other species to function as service animals.
Unfortunately, emotional support animals don’t enjoy such carte blanche access. Thus, you often require some kind of certification to prove to landlords and employers that you need to have an emotional support animal with you.
Can a Cat Be an Emotional Support Animal?
The thing about ESAs is that there aren’t too many restrictions regarding species. Therefore, by this logic, your cat can be considered as an emotional support animal. However, there are other points to consider before the final verdict.
For one thing, more authorities are cracking down on ESAs. This is because there has been a fair amount of fraud taking place over the past few years. Not to mention, some people are trying to pass some rather unique breeds as ESAs. This includes serpents, large birds, and more.
There is also the fact that a mental health professional has to deem a particular animal suitable to be an ESA. In short, your psychologist or psychiatrist will need to decide whether a cat is a right companion to help you through troubling times.
Furthermore, some breeds are better suited to be an emotional support companion than others. This includes Persians, American Shorthair, Abyssinian, Main Coon, Siamese, Exotic Shorthair, American Bobtail, Bengal, and Sphynx.
Will Your Cat Work as an Emotional Support Animal?
So, let’s narrow down the field a little bit more. Is it possible for your cat to be certified as an ESA? Well, that all depends on what your kitty is like. You don’t have to be told that each cat differs wildly in personality and behavior.
In addition to a mental health professional, you also need to determine if your kitty is right for the job. For instance, do they help you to feel calm, particularly during stressful moments? Do they make an effort to comfort you when you are in distress? If they tick these boxes, your cat is suitable for this position.
Be mindful that this designation is just for a single cat. So, if you have several pets, you will only be able to register one of these individuals as your ESA. The other cats may not enjoy the same benefits as your emotional support cat.
How to Register Your Cat as an ESA?
It isn’t enough to claim that your cat functions as an emotional support animal. If you don’t want to receive any complaints from your landlord, employer, and others, you will need to have your cat properly licensed. To this, you will need to contact a professional service. They will show you how to get started with the process and how to get an ESA letter.
Once you have received a letter from a mental health professional, you can continue with the verification and validity process. After this, your cat can be certified as a proper ESA. This should make things easier for you when you are looking for housing or traveling.
What You Should Know About Having an Emotional Support Cat
As mentioned, emotional support cats aren’t as readily accepted as service dogs. Technically, your landlord, employer, or airline isn’t legally bound to allow your cat. Due to this, you may still find a certain amount of limitation.
However, getting your cat certified with a reputable service can help quite a bit. Most people are appeased when they discover that the paperwork is valid. It also proves to them that your cat is well-behaved and will not cause any problems when they are with you.
There is quite a bit to know about ESAs and emotional support cats. At the same time, it should be a relief to hear that your cat can be considered as an ESA, especially if you go through the proper channels. Thus, if you were considering an ESA, you can now begin the process to help get them certified.