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How to Make a Cat an Emotional Support Animal

While many people typically choose dogs as their emotional support animal, some prefer to have other species of animals as their therapy companions as they make them feel calmer and more comfortable.

Cats, for example, are the second most popular breed for an emotional support animal. Mental health professionals recognize cats as excellent emotional support animals for mental illnesses and emotional disabilities. This article will tell you how you can obtain and register an emotional support cat.

Can Cats Be Emotional Support Animals?

In short, yes, cats can become emotional support animals. Any species of animal can become a certified emotional support animal, although emotional support cats and dogs are the most common. Anyone can have emotional support cats if they get approval from a mental health professional and obtain the proper documentation, such as an emotional support animal letter.

motional support animals and can be helpful when an individual with a disability needs some calm and peace. Some species of cats can sense when an individual is about to have a panic attack, an anxiety attack, or even need animal-assisted therapy, such as pressure or something to hold.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that provides companionship and comfort to those who suffer from mental health illnesses or emotional and mental disabilities. These disabilities include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and insomnia, to name a few. Anyone can qualify for an emotional support cat, emotional support dog, or any other species of animal, as long as it provides support to its owner.

One important thing to note is that service animals are not emotional support animals. Service animals are protected and approved under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as they assist those with physical or cognitive disabilities perform tasks that are usually simple for an abled person.

While emotional support dogs are a popular option, some individuals may need that dog to be a service animal. Service dogs specifically train to perform their owner's disability tasks. Service dogs undergo special training to perform these tasks, and the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) protect service animals.

On the other hand, emotional support animals are therapy animals that provide companionship for those suffering from mental health problems or some mental or emotional disability. 

Additionally, while emotional support animals are covered under the federal Fair Housing Act, service animals have more federal rights. Therefore, they are allowed to go to more places with their owner than emotional support animals.

How Can My Cat Become an Emotional Support Animal?

The first step to emotional support cat registration is visiting a doctor or licensed mental health professional. This step is crucial to the process as a licensed mental health professional must perform a mental health evaluation to verify that you suffer from a mental health disorder or emotional disability.

Don't be too surprised if mental health professionals don't recommend an emotional support animal or emotional support cat to you immediately, especially if it's your first time seeing a mental health professional.

At this stage, it's essential to be open and honest with your mental health provider about how you're feeling and what treatment option would work best for you. Many mental health professionals have dealt with many people trying to obtain a fake ESA letter to have an excuse to live with their pets. So don't be too alarmed if the evaluation to get an emotional support animal or emotional support cat takes a bit of patience.

Once a licensed mental health professional certifies that an emotional support cat could provide therapeutic benefit for you, they will write you an emotional support animal letter. This letter is an essential document as it is what will allow your emotional support cat to travel and live with you. Making sure this letter is signed and certified is vital.

If you need more information on obtaining certified letters for your emotional support cat, check out this article by the Austin Chronicle that covers the best emotional support animal letter services.

Why Should I Get an Emotional Support Cat?

Anyone who struggles with chronic mental health issues, such as a level of anxiety that leads one to alter their daily lifestyle, is a good candidate for an emotional support cat. Essentially, it comes down to whether you would prefer an emotional support cat, dog, or other animal species and which breed helps you feel calm and better. You can also discuss this decision with a licensed mental health professional.

Ideal candidates for an emotional support animal or emotional support cat include people who have experienced a traumatic event, those who deal with a high level of stress daily, and anyone struggling with depression, along with any other mental health complication a person may experience.

Suppose you're considering getting an emotional support cat. In that case, it's important to note that emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This act means emotional support cats can live with their owners, regardless of a landlord's or building manager's pet policies. Although emotional support animals are protected by HUD, as of January 2021, emotional support cats and emotional support animals are no longer allowed on airplanes. Suppose you need to travel with your emotional support cat. In that case, you'll need to make other accommodations for them, such as using a pet carrier and ensuring you have the proper documents, like a certified ESA letter.

While cats can be certified emotional support animals, it's worth mentioning that only dogs can be designated as service animals. In the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the U.S. Department of Justice defines service animals as "dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities."

Service animals can accompany the person they assist into spaces they do not typically allow pets, such as grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, and more. Emotional support animals or emotional support cats do not own these same rights but are still entitled to live and travel with their owners.

So can cats be emotional support animals? Yes, they can! Having an emotional support cat can be an excellent solution for anyone struggling with mental health or emotional disorders. While everyone deserves to live a fulfilled life without struggles, any kind of emotional support animal can be incredibly beneficial for those who feel stuck or trapped in their lives. It's always worth trying to discuss owning an emotional support cat or any emotional support animal with a licensed mental health professional today.

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