Can Cats be Emotional Support Animals?
Absolutely! Cats can provide the same love, compassion, and support as any other Emotional Support Animal. Some people who aren’t “cat people” may not understand, but a cat’s love can be just as unconditional as a dog’s. More than that, many mental health professionals recognize and report that the positive effects of cat ownership are just as considerable as dog ownership.
Can a Cat be a Service Cat?
We often get asked, “Can a cat be a Service Animal?”.
The short answer:
Cats CAN NOT be service animals.
Cats CAN be emotional support animals though.
From an American Disability Act (ADA) handout, “Service Animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” There is a special provision written in for miniature horses, but nothing that mentions specifically service cats.
However, as mentioned above, cats can certainly qualify as an Emotional Support Animal (with a letter of recommendation from a Licensed Mental Health Professional). If you’d like us to put you in contact with a Licensed Mental Health Professional in your state to see if you may qualify, get started here.
If you see a site promoting a “service cat registry” or similar idea–run away as fast as possible.
Not only is service cat registration bogus, but the sites are spreading misinformation.
How to Register Your Cat as an Emotional Support Animal
Actually, you don’t “register” your cat anywhere!
The only requirement to have your cat attributed as an Emotional Support Animal is to have a written letter from a Licensed Mental Health Professional, often called an “emotional support animal letter“.
This is contrary to what you might read on websites that ask you to pay to register your cat as an emotional support animal, but it is true. As we’ve covered many times, there is no legal requirement for Emotional Support Animals to be registered.
Online ‘registers’ offering registration services (often bundled with fancy certificates/ID tags, etc) are simply trying to make some money off of people’s lack of knowledge about ESAs. The ESA letter written by an LMHP is everything you need. In fact, as awareness about emotional support animals increases, airlines staffs and real estate renters are increasingly becoming likely to deny any document produced by these so-called ‘registries’ and ‘certification’ services. DO NOT BE FOOLED!
What Disabilities Qualify for an Emotional Support Cat?
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Postpartum Depression
- Phobias and Fears
- General Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
Breeds of Cats That Qualify for ESA Status
There are no breed restrictions for cats that can be qualified as an ESA. However, we do want to bring notice to therapy cats, therapy cat registration, and therapy cat certification.
Like Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals, therapy cat registries are not a real thing.
Also! Therapy cats are different from SAs and ESAs as they are:
Best Cat Breeds for ESA Letters
Is there a best cat breed to be an ESA?
Nope! It just depends on which cat can give support and a sense of ease to an individual who suffers from a mental/emotional disability.
Legal Protections for Emotional Support Cats
Two United States Federal Laws primarily protect the rights of people with Support Animals. Although the rights are not as expansive as those granted to Service Animals, there are still two very important points to be aware of.
- Traveling With Your Cat – The Air Carrier Access Act ensures that people are able to fly with their Emotional Support Cat without having to pay additional fees. The airlines do require that they be informed in advance and that a recent (less than one-year-old) ESA letter is provided as well. Some airlines, such as Delta and United Airlines, now request additional forms, which you can read here.
- Living With Your Cat – The Fair Housing Act ensures that an individual requiring an Emotional Support Cat will be allowed to live with their animal. Furthermore, it prevents landlords and rental companies from being able to charge pet fees or deposits.