If you are a cat person, you can become the keeper of an emotional support cat that will give you moral endorsement and inner comfort. So, here’s a quick guide on what you need to do to get an ESA cat.
Emotional support animals
An emotional support animal supplies psychological consolation and moral strengthening to people in need. Studies of the animals’ influence on a person’s psyche and emotional state have shown the extraordinary helpfulness of emotional support animals. Because of this, ESAs cannot be considered pets since they are a therapeutic agent necessary for successfully treating human mental maladies.
The most popular companion animals are emotional support dogs. Thanks to their active and friendly nature, these creatures can give their keepers bright emotions and happiness. The main goal of an ESA is to create a favorable emotional environment for a human, which will contribute to their faster recovery. An emotional support dog helps eliminate stress and tension, relax and rest.
How can an animal be registered as an emotional support one?
A man with a diagnosed psychical disturbance can become the possessor of an emotional support animal. For this, you need to contact your therapist and discuss the possibility of including an ESA in your treatment plan. Only a qualified specialist can determine whether an animal will positively affect your therapy.
After receiving documentary confirmation from a professional, you can register the animal. ESA cat registration is not mandatory but is necessary for your convenience. This process is quite simple and does not take much time. You need to fill in the data about the animal and submit an ESA letter from a doctor about the need for an emotional support animal for you. After that, you can get an ID card for your companion.
Can your cat be an emotional support animal?
Emotional support animals can be almost any animal, including rats, rabbits, horses, birds, and reptiles. The main thing is that your companion supplies you with solace and appeasement and is safe for others. Nonetheless, emotional support cats and dogs have remained popular for a long time. These types are distinguished by their comforting nature and have a well-developed intuition, which allows them to feel the emotions of the keeper better and soften them. Therefore, if you want to choose a cat as an ESA, you can do it.
Some may think cats can give less social and emotional support than dogs because they are believed to be more independent and unsociable animals. Obviously, this is just a stereotype and a misconception about cats. Emotional support cats are excellent animals to help you get through difficult situations. They strongly bond with their holders and always sense when they are most needed.
Moreover, it has been proven that a cat’s purr has a relaxing effect on a human. At the same time, cats feel great when you leave them alone. Emotional support cats do not require constant attention and big effort, so they are a great option for those who work away from home or need periodic solitude.
Breeds of cats that qualify for ESA status
There are no clear restrictions or recommendations regarding what breed of cats can be companion animals. Therefore, when choosing an ESA, rely on your own preferences and needs. Most often, ESA owners choose cats based on how they look like.
For example, Ragdolls, Persians, and Russian Blue cats are most popular for their attractive appearance. American Bobtails and Manx cats are also often chosen because these breeds are very intelligent and sociable. You can also choose hypoallergenic breeds if you are allergic to fur. In this case, Siamese, Balinese, and Sphynx Cats are perfect for you.
How do I qualify for emotional support cats?
To become an ESA owner, you first need to get an emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health professional. This procedure can take some time, as the therapist must carefully analyze your psychological state to ensure that the animal can help you. Only a specialist familiar with your disorder and medical records can issue an ESA letter.
If you have not yet visited a psychologist or psychiatrist, then carefully choose a suitable specialist. It is important that the therapist you choose specializes in your type of disorder. In addition, a doctor who is not aware of the influence of animals on the human psyche cannot issue an ESA letter. Therefore, we suggest you notify your mental health provider in advance of your intention to receive an emotional support cat.
Do cats need the training to be emotional support animals?
Emotional support animals are called to aid humans with psychical afflictions. For this, an animal does not need special tutoring or preparation. For severe forms of mental or emotional disabilities, there are service animals that monitor the taking of medications, help with household duties, and can provide first aid if necessary.
However, it is still desirable to devote some time to exercise with your animal. The process of training a cat is quite different from training a dog. You should not expect the cat to be able to fulfill any commands or tasks. At the same time, the animal must be obedient and must not harm people, other animals, or damage property.
However, note that it is best to visit public places with your cat in emotional support animal vest. This will make it easier to identificate them from ordinary pets and better control their behavior and movement area.
Legal protections for emotional support cats
United States laws are designed to protect the most vulnerable social groups and prevent discrimination. The law also protects people with special needs, service animals, and emotional support animals. However, unlike service animals, ESAs have significantly fewer rights and freedoms.
To date, emotional support animal laws are limited only to regulations in the field of housing. This is because emotional support animals do not have special training, so their behavior can be unpredictable and unacceptable. In addition, many people mistakenly believe that ESAs are common pets and not a method of therapy prescribed by a doctor.
Fair Housing Act (FHA)
The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that allows tenants who require the assistance of service animals or ESAs to live with their animals in rental housing. According to the FHA, the landlord must allow an emotional support animal to stay in an apartment, even if the building has a no-pets policy. At the same time, the lessor does not have the right to demand added payment for the tenant’s accommodation or a pet deposit.
Tenants still have to follow other rules of living in the apartment. It is important that the animal does not disturb other residents and does not pose a threat. Therefore, keep an eye on the animal’s appearance and ensure that the animal does not cause damage to the rental property. For violating the residence rules, the landlord has the right to evict you.
Flying with Your Cat
Unfortunately, the Air Carrier Access Act currently does not cover emotional support animals. However, most airlines allow small animals to be transported in the cabin next to their owners. To do this, you must reserve a place for the animal in advance, pay for the service, and fill out the documents for transporting the ESA. You can find more detailed info about the shipping of animals on the air carrier website.
If the animal’s size exceeds the established norms, the animal can fly in the baggage compartment or as separate cargo. Take care of the animal’s convenience during the flight in advance. For air travel with an emotional support cat, you will need a carrier that fits the animal in size. Also, take care of food and water for the animals during the journey.