Yes, cats can be emotional support animals because they can improve mental health, and they’re legally recognized for their role as support animals under federal and state laws.

The presence of a cat in the household, as well as interactions with a cat, have been shown to reduce measurable negative moods like anxiety and depression.

And because ESAs have housing rights, you don’t have to live in fear that your landlord will evict your emotional support cat. ESA owners also enjoy perks like the ability to live in no-pet buildings without having to pay any fees or deposits. 

In this article, we’ll explain why cats can be emotional support animals.


How Cats Are Eligible as Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support cat is more than just a pet: they play a vital role in helping their owners maintain mental and emotional stability. 

One study showed that cat owners scored better on measurements for health, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance than people without any pets. Another study showed that cat owners enjoyed a higher quality of life than non-pet owners. Because of their benefits for people with mental health issues, cats are explicitly recognized as valid emotional support animals under Fair Housing guidelines.

Yes, Cats Are Covered by the Fair Housing Act

orange emotional support cat
Did you know that the FHA allows emotional support cats to live with their owners? Pet fees and deposits cannot be charged for emotional support cats.

The FHA, or Fair Housing Act, allows you to live with your emotional support cat, even in “no-pets” apartments and condos. The FHA also protects ESA owners from unlawful discriminatory acts by landlords, including homeowner associations (HOA), co-ops, and rental apartments. 

A landlord can’t excuse themself from accepting an ESA because they’re afraid the cat will tear up the carpets and curtains or cause other damage. A mere concern about potential allergies or the odor from a litter box is also not a valid excuse.

Even if the housing provider has a written policy explicitly banning cats, they still have to make an exception for legitimate emotional support cats. Landlords have faced expensive lawsuits for not correctly welcoming emotional support cats. 

Emotional support cats are also exempt from pet fees, application fees, and deposits. A landlord cannot discriminate against your cat because it is a certain size or breed. You don’t need to register an emotional support cat, but you will need an ESA letter from a licensed healthcare professional.

How can I get an ESA letter for my cat?


Click here to qualify for your ESA letter from a licensed health professional.

ESA cat
Cats make excellent emotional support animals.

Tips for your future emotional support cats

There’s no right or wrong answer when adopting an emotional support cat, but there are some considerations like breeds that exhibit specific traits and going with feral vs. shelter born. Below you’ll find seven tips we’ve discovered in our 10 years of experience assisting people just like you with their ESAs.

Tip #1 – Familiarize yourself with cat breeds

Just like people, every cat has a unique personality, and just like dogs, some breeds have people-oriented tendencies, making them the go-to for ESAs. 

Here are 7 cat breeds you may want to consider:

  1. Ragdolls are known for their calm and affectionate nature and tendency to form strong bonds with their owners, which offers a strong feeling of companionship.  
  2. Maine Coone cats have a friendly, social, and empathetic nature, making them perfect for people who want a cat that plays and offers loyal companionship.
  3. Siamese cats can be vocal and communicative and bond deeply with their humans, offering affection and reducing feelings of loneliness.
  4. Scottish Folds are recognizable by their adorable folded ears. They are calm, cuddly, and enjoy being close to their owners. 
  5. Burmese cats are people-oriented and incredibly affectionate. They thrive on interaction and provide constant companionship and love.
  6. Persian cats are known for their long, luxurious coats and sweet disposition. Persians are calm and gentle, making them great stress-relievers.

In your search for a cat, don’t forget to neglect shelter cats. They come in various personalities, allowing potential owners to find the perfect match. Shelter cats, once they adapt, can be even more affectionate, loyal, and supportive than any purebred cat. 

Tip #2 – Feral cats are difficult to rely on for emotional support

It is always wonderful to rescue street cats, but when it comes to having a cat as an ESA, that feral fellow may not work. Feral cats are sometimes wild, nervous, and afraid of humans, causing more stress or anxiety rather than alleviating the mental health issues someone is facing.

These cats can be “tamed,” but it takes time, patience, and the right person. Training a cat can be a therapeutic journey for the owner, fostering a deep sense of achievement and emotional bonding that reduces stress and enhances empathy. 

This transformative process not only benefits the cat but can also serve as a source of therapeutic healing for the caregiver, offering mutual comfort and companionship.

Tip #3 – Bond with your cat

To bond with a cat and build a deep connection, start by providing a safe space and letting the cat approach you on its terms. Engage in play and offer treats to create positive associations. Speak softly and consider gentle grooming to enhance trust and comfort. With patience and consistent care, this approach fosters a strong bond of mutual trust and affection, enriching both your lives.

Try paying attention to the cat’s instinctive behaviors. Is it a pouncer, a chaser, a bird watcher? By knowing your cat’s natural tendencies, you can introduce toys and activities that match its interests and needs. 

Tip #4 – Consider Special Needs Cats

Don’t overlook special needs cats, including those with physical disabilities, chronic health issues, or older cats. Adopting a special needs cat offers a unique opportunity to form a deep, meaningful bond through the extra care they require. This experience can enrich your life with enhanced compassion, a sense of purpose, and the joy of overcoming challenges together. 

Special needs cats often demonstrate remarkable resilience, teaching valuable lessons in adaptability and perseverance. By choosing to adopt one, you not only save a life but also gain a loyal and affectionate companion, making a profound impact on both your lives.

Tip# 5 – Spay or neuter is your safest bet

Consider whether spaying or neutering your cat is advisable. Males left intact tend to urine mark and can be more aggressive. Females left unaltered will regularly come into heat and try to escape outdoors to be bred. These extra worries may be troublesome if you already suffer from emotional issues.

Emotional support animal cat
Cats are awesome! They can provide comfort and support to those who need it most.

Cats are awesome!

If your cat provides comfort for your depression, anxiety, or other mental illness, you’re certainly not alone. Emotional support cats are the second most popular type of emotional support animal after dogs. 

Follow the link below to get started on your path to making your cat an official ESA. You will be happy you did, and so will your furry feline friend.

Qualify for your ESA cat letter today


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