Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Cats
With emotional support animals (ESAs), most people immediately think of dogs. But, an emotional support pet can be any animal or breed that comforts someone with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. This means that cats can be emotional support animals too.
Emotional support cats can offer a variety of benefits for their owners’ mental and emotional health. For example, several studies have shown that cats can lower stress and blood pressure levels. ESAs can even help to decrease feelings of loneliness and offer benefits to individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In this article, we discuss the many advantages of having cats as emotional support animals and how to get an emotional support cat.
About Emotional Support Cats
An emotional support cat provides companionship, comfort, and emotional assistance to their owner. While an ESA can technically be any type of animal–such as a rabbit, miniature horse, etc–the most common types of emotional support animals are cats and dogs.
Emotional support cats can help to reduce some of the negative symptoms concerning the handler’s psychological or emotional disabilities. For example, people who suffer from anxiety or depression may find that the companionship provided by a cat can relieve feelings of sadness, stress, and loneliness. They achieve this by helping to calm down their owners and reduce the emotional stress that they may be experiencing.
Emotional Support Cats vs. Service Animals
It’s important to understand the key differences between emotional support animals and service animals. This will help you determine which type of assistance animal will best serve your needs. Furthermore, they will offer different protections concerning housing, travel, and other circumstances.
Emotional support animals–including support cats–are protected under the Fair Housing Act. As such, they can always live with their owners, no matter what the landlord’s or property manager’s pet policies are. Unfortunately, emotional support animals are no longer accepted by all airlines. You may need to pay the airline’s pet fee and use a pet carrier.
According to both federal and state laws, emotional support animals are not considered service animals. The Department of Housing and Urban Development defines them as animals that vary by nature and may relieve depression, anxiety, and/or stress-induced pain in people that suffer from certain medical conditions. They do not require training to qualify as emotional support animals.
Adversely, service animals must be individually trained to perform tasks or to do work directly related to their owner’s disability. For instance, service animals may assist those who are blind with certain tasks or alert individuals who are deaf to the presence of people or sounds. A service animal may accompany their owner into places where pets are not typically allowed, such as restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, etc.
Even though some cats can alert their owners to medical concerns and emergencies, only dogs can be service animals. Since there is no special training required for support cats, an ESA certificate is the only thing that distinguishes them from other animals. To get an ESA letter, you must first be evaluated by a licensed health professional.
Benefits of Having a Support Cat for Companionship
If you are suffering from a mental illness, like anxiety or depression, emotional support animals can be extremely beneficial. If your condition is more severe, then you may want to consider getting a psychiatric service dog instead.
With support cats, you will find that they can be incredibly helpful to your mental health and emotional well-being.
The specific advantages provided by emotional support cats will vary from person to person, but some common benefits are:
- Relief from anxiety and depression
- Reduces post-traumatic stress
- Helps with certain phobias
- Improves mood
- Lowers blood pressure
How to Qualify for an Emotional Support Cat
To qualify for an emotional support animal, including a support cat, you must get an ESA letter from a mental health professional.
ESA Pet is a reliable emotional support animal letter service that can connect you with a qualified mental health professional licensed in your state. Simply follow these three easy steps to get your ESA letter.
Step 1: Pre-Screening Questionnaire
This quiz will ask some basic questions about your cat and mental health. It will only take two minutes to complete. Your responses will help us determine whether you are an eligible candidate for an emotional support cat.
Step 2: Speak With a Licensed Mental Health Professional
After completing the pre-screening questionnaire, ESA Pet will connect you with a mental health professional licensed in your state. You will have a brief phone consultation to discuss your mental health.
Step 3: Get Your ESA Letter
Upon approval, ESA Pet will promptly send you the ESA letter within 24 hours after the consultation.
The entire process is simple, easy, and quick. Get started with ESA Pet today.
How to Register an Emotional Support Cat
You do not need to register your cat as an emotional support animal with any database or organization. Also, support cats are not required to wear special tags or vests.
The only proof you need is an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. You can provide it to your landlord as evidence that your cat is an emotional support animal. Your emotional support cat will then be afforded protections under the Fair Housing Act.
Housing Rights of an Emotional Support Cat
All housing providers, including landlords for rental buildings, temporary houses ,etc., must allow residents to keep their emotional support animals. This is considered a reasonable accommodation for a disability, unless the emotional support animal is dangerous or unsafe to others.
Landlords with no-pet policies, or policies that restrict certain breeds, weights, or sizes of pets, must make an exception for emotional support animals.
If an emotional support animal causes damage or disruption, the owner is responsible for covering any resulting costs.
Travel Restrictions For Emotional Support Cats
According to the latest guidance by the Department of Transportation, airlines are no longer required to accommodate travelers with emotional support animals, including support cats. American, Delta, United, JetBlue, Spirit, and Frontier are some of the major airline carriers that no longer allow emotional support animals.
If you are unable to travel with your support animal, it may lead to distress and other emotional issues. Luckily, your cat is still allowed to fly in the cabin with you. The only difference is that you are no longer exempt from paying pet fees and the cat must be placed in a carrier.
Some international and domestic airlines allow emotional support animals on board for free. Therefore, if you want to travel with your support cat, all you have to do is book these disability-friendly airlines. Just be sure to check out the airline’s requirements for ESAs before traveling. You will most likely need to submit certain documents, like your ESA letter and a relief attestation form.
Best Breeds For Emotional Support Cats
Just as there are ideal breeds for emotional support dogs, like Golden Retrievers and Labradors, there are also ideal breeds for support cats.
If you have a mental or emotional disability and wish to include an emotional support cat in your treatment plan, consider these breeds:
The American Shorthair is a family favorite and an ideal choice for an emotional support cat. They have even temperaments and above-average intelligence levels. This breed is very gentle-natured and good around kids and other animals. American Shorthairs make excellent emotional support cats.
Maine Coon cats also make great feline companions and emotional support cats. They are very active, easy to train, and extremely intelligent. They are also known for developing deep relationships with their owners, which is an ideal quality for support cats.
The American Bobtail is a relatively new breed but is already a fan favorite for emotional support cats, therapy cats, and family pets. They are known to be affectionate, active, less vocal, and very independent. Additionally, American Bobtail cats have tails almost half the size of other cat breeds. They make wonderful companions for anyone in need of comfort and support.
The Russian Blue cat breed is intelligent, easy to love, and extremely quiet. While they are less demanding than other felines, Russian Blues are very affectionate toward their owners. These are classic family cats, as well as ideal emotional support cats.
Persians are one of the more beautiful breeds. They have lush coats (that require significant grooming) and unique faces. Persian cats are very gentle and quiet, making them an excellent breed for those suffering from anxiety, extreme stress, or PTSD.
Manx are commonly known for not having tails. Beyond that, the Max cat breed is intelligent, playful, and quite gentle. don’t have tails. They love to interact with their owners and tend to attach themselves to a single member of the family. With a loyal and endearing nature, the Manx breed makes for the perfect support cat.
The Bengal breed is active and independent. But they are also very intelligent and athletic. Bengals are not as cuddly as other breeds but still require some attention every now and then. Most enjoy being outside and some will even go for walks on a leash with their owners!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Is an Emotional Support Animal Different From a Service Animal?
Emotional support animals (ESA) provide therapeutic benefits through companionship and affection. They do not require any special training and do not perform specific tasks. ESAs can help with conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more.
On the other hand, service animals are specially trained to perform tasks that help someone with a disability. People who require a service animal typically need assistance because of an illness like asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.
Further, emotional support animals are not limited to dogs. They come in different animal types and breeds, such as cats, dogs, birds, hedgehogs, and occasionally miniature horses. Service animals are strictly dogs.
What is an ESA Letter?
An emotional support animal letter is written for an animal companion deemed to provide mental and emotional benefits for the owner. ESA letters can be used for housing and travel purposes, serving as proof that the animal provides key therapeutic benefits.
How Do I Find a Doctor Who Will Prescribe an ESA Letter?
ESA Pet can easily schedule an assessment with a doctor or other qualified mental health professional who is able to issue an ESA letter if you’re eligible. To schedule an appointment with a mental health professional for an ESA letter evaluation, simply visit the ESA Pet website.
Can Cats Provide Emotional Support?
Yes, cats can provide comfort, companionship, and emotional support. These animals are intelligent, gentle, and form a strong bond with their owners. This makes them excellent emotional support animals.
Which Cat Breeds Are Good for Emotional Support?
Some of the top breeds for emotional support cats include American Bobtail, Manx, Persian, Russian Blue, Bengal, and Maine Coon.
Can Owning a Cat Help Reduce Symptoms of Depression?
Having a pet such as a cat may help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Also, they may help to reduce loneliness and encourage playfulness.
Do I Need Special Training for My Emotional Support Cat?
No special training is required for emotional support cats. Only service animals are required to be individually trained to do work and perform tasks that help their owner’s disability.
Any type of animal that provides therapeutic value can be considered an emotional support animal, including cats. A qualified emotional support cat requires a letter prescribed by a licensed mental health professional stating that the animal provides emotional support and comfort to its owner.
Individuals suffering from psychological disabilities, mental disabilities, mental illness, and emotional disabilities may meet the requirements for an emotional support animal with ESA Pet. Simply put, if you’re a cat owner, a number of emotional conditions will qualify.