Emotional support animals help their owners deal with their mental health disability by offering comfort and support through companionship, a focus in life, affection, and positive regard.
An emotional support animal can be any domesticated animal such as a cat, dog, guinea pig, hedgehog, rat, horse, miniature pig, bird, etc. The most important thing is that the animal is domesticated and does not pose a threat to people, other pets, or the housing facility.
What’s equally important is that an ESA needs to be recommended to the owner by a licensed health professional or therapist. If the therapist has determined that the person needs an emotional support animal, the animal needs to be able to help alleviate some of the symptoms of the owner’s mental illness.
Are you ready to make your cat an emotional support cat now? Complete the questionnaire in the link below to qualify your cat as an official emotional support cat.
Can Cats Be Emotional Support Animals?
Yes, cats can be emotional support animals. In fact, they make great emotional support animals. Cats are very affectionate and playful. They create strong bonds with their owners, regardless of the general belief that they are pesky little creatures that hate socializing.
In addition, emotional support cats are easier to house and maintain than emotional support dogs. They are generally smaller than canines and are very agile. They will find enough space and activities for themselves most of the time. You will still need to take care of their food and water supplies and clean the litter box. Other than that, all you need to do is ensure some quality play time.
Emotional support cats are fun to play with and fun to watch, which can help boost your mood. Purring can also have therapeutic effects on people. There’s no doubt that your cat’s calm personality can also calm you down. Felines are also very good at reading people’s emotions and will respond to them appropriately.
How to Register an Emotional Support Cat
Step 1. Connect with a licensed mental health professional online or in real life.
If you think you could qualify for an emotional support cat, you need to talk to a licensed health professional. If you’re already in therapy, you can ask your therapist about making a cat an emotional support animal. To qualify, you need to have a mental health disability. If your doctor/therapist finds that the animal can be beneficial to you, they can write you an ESA letter. If you do not have access to a licensed mental health professional in real life, you can connect with one online. To connect with a LMHP online, complete the ESA Questionnaire by clicking the image link above.
Step 2. Qualify for an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.
In order to qualify for the ESA letter, you must demonstrate your need for an emotional support animal in your life. If you suffer from a mental disability (i.e. depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.) and it limits your daily life, you may qualify for an ESA letter. The ESA letter must be written on the official letterhead of a licensed health professional and include the license number, the date it was issued, and expiration date.
Step 3. Make sure your cat does not pose a threat to others.
If you already have a pet cat that you want to make an emotional support cat, you will need to provide some information about the animal, too. There is no age limit and there are no special training requirements. Whether you want a kitten or an adult cat to be your ESA, you can make it happen.
As long as your animal provides support for your disability and doesn’t pose a threat or a nuisance to people and property, your kitty is good to go. Your emotional support cat doesn’t need to perform any tricks or tasks to qualify. However, good behavior is mandatory, or you can be excluded from no-pets housing or airplanes.
Step 4. Notify your landlord or airline about your emotional support cat.
You can submit your ESA letter to your landlord or airline via email. This will provide a record that you have submitted your paperwork. Most airlines require that you submit your paperwork 48 hours in advance of your flight date. This is not always strictly enforced, but make sure to submit it early so that you do not run into any issues at the airport.
Step 5. You can if you want to register your emotional support cat.
Keep in mind that no special tags or vests are required for any emotional support animal. Unless you really want these products, it is not required by law. ESA cat registration is also not required. Registering your cat as an emotional support animal will not make it a true ESA. The only “Emotional Support Cat Registration” you will ever need is your ESA letter.
Legal Rights for Emotional Support Cats
Emotional support cats have the same rights as all the other emotional support animals.
Under the Fair Housing Act, you can live in a no-pets housing with your emotional support cat. The building manager or the landlord must make reasonable accommodations to house you and your pet. In addition, they cannot charge any additional pet deposits or fees for your emotional support cat. Also, you shouldn’t let anyone review your confidential medical information. This goes for apartment managers and landlords.
If you are rejected or your rights are compromised in any way, you can file a complaint with the HUD for discrimination. Note that there are instances when you can be denied access with your ESA. Most commonly, this can happen if your animal is too big for the housing or if the animal poses a danger to other residents.
Flying with an Emotional Support Cat
Other than the Fair Housing Act that works in your favor, there’s also the Air Carrier Access Act. This act allows you to fly with your emotional support cat in the airplane cabin.Most airplanes will allow this (and they have to), but contact them in advance to avoid any possible inconvenience.
You will need to provide your ESA letter to the airlines in advance by submitting via email. Please note that some airlines (i.e. Alaska, Delta, United, etc.) will require an airline document in addition to your ESA letter. ESA Doctors will be able to assist you with your ESA letter and airline documents online.
You will need an appropriate pet carrier for the flight, so contact the airline to get the most accurate information.