The ability to reduce and calm any emotional distress manifested by a mentally or emotionally ill person like post-traumatic stress disorder is the major function of an emotional support animal. An emotional support animal including cats and dogs can be a pet but a normal pet cannot be an emotional support animal.
The ESA letter is the differentiating factor dividing the normal pet from an emotional support animal pet. Unlike service animals, no training is required for therapy animals like cats to become an emotional support animal. The ESA letter is only issued by a mental health professional if they see that an emotional support animal needs to be a part of the treatment plan of an emotionally or mentally ill individual.
Can Cats Fulfill the Role of an Emotional Support Animal?
Cats are generally affectionate, calm, naturally docile, and intelligent—the perfect comfort animals. These characteristics make them a perfect choice as an emotional assistance animal.
Like many dog owners, most cat owners claim to be comforted and soothed by their pet cats. For people struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions that significantly affect their daily life, the soothing comfort and loving nature of cats are the ideal antidote. The usually calm and serene temperament of cats mixed with their unique funny personalities makes them perfect pets or emotional support animal.
The small size of cats and their uncanny ability to form a bond with their owners qualify them as exceptional ESAs. Their diminutive size, quietness, cleanliness, and chill factor are personalities qualifying cats to become one of the excellent types of emotional support animal.
A cat is also capable of being a supportive, loving, and compassionate companion. The unconditional love and acceptance shown by dogs to their owners are also reflected in the behavior of cats.
Dogs may top the list and choice for emotional support animals but it doesn’t mean that cats can’t provide therapeutic benefits as a companion animal to people afflicted by mental and emotional disabilities.
Legal Rights of an Emotional Support Cat
Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA) rules and regulations, emotional support cats can fly on a plane or live with their owners without being charged pet fees.
The ACAA allows an emotional support cat to travel with their owners without buying another ticket or paying additional pet fees. If you are planning to go on a plane with your emotional support cat, you need to contact the airline to inform them about your travel plans 48 hours prior to the departure date.
The FHA allows an emotional support cat to live with their handler even on housing facilities that have a no-pets policy. The law prohibits housing facilities, homeowner associations, and landlords to discriminate against an emotional support animal that is part of the treatment plan of a mentally and emotionally ill individual.
Choosing the Perfect Emotional Support Cat
Cats have a natural aloof personality than dogs. However, this should not count against them for they can be excellent emotional support animals like their canine counterparts. Here are some timely guidelines to help you find the perfect emotional support cat:
Invest in a Kitten
Choosing your emotional support cat is better started with a kitten. A kitten is still free and innocent without any hang-ups. Bonding is easier with a kitten. Go one step further by purchasing a kitten from a reputable breeder.
Neuter or Spay Your Cat
Good emotional support animals are those that have been spayed or neutered. Male cats have a tendency to show aggressive behaviors when they are left intact. They also have a bad habit of urine marking. Unaltered females will run away when they come to heat. These worries will further aggravate whatever mental or emotional problems you are currently facing.
Go for the Best Breeds
The best cat breeds are those with a people-oriented temperament. Some of the specific cat breeds to go for are the Ragdoll, Scottish Fold, and Tonkinese.
Keep Your Feline Indoors at all Times
Cats that are brought up to stay indoors develop a people-oriented attitude. Staying indoors is also a healthier option for your cat to prevent him from injuries, getting lost or picking up parasites.
No to Street Cats
Rescuing street cats may seem like a good deed but will not work as an emotional support animal. It takes the right person and a lot of time and effort to tame them. You are not in a position to do this if you are currently suffering from any mental or emotional problems.
Requirements to Meet to Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal
It is not a difficult task to get an ESA letter for your feline companion. Mental and emotional illnesses such as panic attacks, anxiety, and depression can readily qualify your cat to become an emotional support animal. Here are some things to do to start the process of getting an emotional support animal:
- If you don’t have a cat, it’s the right time to get one.
- Ensure that your choice of cat is capable of giving you the emotional support that you need for your condition.
- Personal meet-up with a licensed mental health professional to ask for an ESA letter.
- Provide the airline and your housing facility copies of your ESA letter.
Cats are considered as one of the best choices to have for emotional support during times when you feel that everything is not going right with you. If you find it hard to do real-time visits with a licensed mental health professional, you can still request an online ESA letter
An ESA can often be the most important lifeline if you have been diagnosed with a mental or emotional illness. The first step is to find out if your condition qualifies an Emotional Support Animal to be part of your treatment. If you do, it will only take less than 60 seconds to get your ESA letter.
Scientific studies through the years have been telling us that raising an animal is good for our health and general well-being. Having a loyal, loving, and supportive animal by your side is the best way to lower down stress, anxiety, and depression levels. Make it happen today by having your cat certified as an emotional support animal.
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