Nothing is more soothing than the loving sound of a purring cat curled up on your lap. Cats are excellent for calming anxiety and helping their owners focus and find joy in everyday life. Of course, the same can be said for most pets. This leaves owners wondering; can cats be service animals?
Currently, the Americans With Disabilities Act doesn’t recognize cats as potential service animals. However, cats can be registered as emotional support animals.
That means that cats don’t enjoy the protections as service dogs. They cannot be brought into animal-free stores and restaurants and enjoy fewer rights in public spaces. While it might be disappointing that you can’t harness your cat and take them with you everywhere, that doesn’t mean that your cat can’t provide a lot of comfort and support as an ESA.
Are Cats Good Emotional Support Animals
Cats can be wonderful emotional support animals for the right kind of owner. That’s because an emotional support animal doesn’t necessarily have any particular job they have to fulfill.
Your cat doesn’t have to be trained to tackle you during a panic attack (one job of many service dogs) to provide clinically significant support.
All an ESA has to do is provide comfort and improve your overall quality of life. Many ESAs do their job by needing their owners.
For instance, if a cat’s owner is suffering from severe depression, that cat asking for food might be the extra push they need to get out of bed that day.
The trick is that not everyone qualifies for an ESA, and lots of people claim that their pets are ESAs without any clinical recommendation or requirement for an ESA.
Typically ESAs are only available to people with a chronic mental or physical health condition; regular pets for otherwise healthy owners are not considered ESAs.
How Much Does It Cost To Get An Emotional Support Cat
Getting an emotional support cat doesn’t have a specific price tag. Unlike service dogs, who are often adopted with a high fee that pays for the dog’s care and training before adoption, ESAs don’t have any special training or qualification requirements.
If you already have a cat, you may be able to get that cat declared an ESA.
That doesn’t mean that getting an ESA is free or only costs the adoption fee from your local shelter.
You also shouldn’t go online and buy an ESA certification from a website. The only genuine providers of ESA letters of certification are healthcare professionals, usually mental healthcare professionals.
It can take several appointments with a provider for them to determine if you are a good candidate for an ESA or if your current pet qualifies as an ESA for your physical or mental health.
How Do I Adopt An Emotional Support Cat
Since the right to have an ESA is given to individual people, you can’t just adopt a cat that’s already a registered ESA and have that animal count as your emotional support cat.
However, if you already have a letter saying that you need an ESA, you can adopt any cat you’d like a register them as your official ESA.
Once your cat is an ESA, you’re protected under the fair housing act and cannot be denied housing because your cat is moving in with you.
You’re also usually exempt from fees associated with your cat, but you are still liable for any damage your ESA causes to the home.
Can A Cat Be A Service Animal For Anxiety
Yes! Mental health disorders like generalized anxiety, depression, and PTSD are some of the most common reasons people are given ESA letters.
Your cat might not specifically have any services they perform to help your anxiety. Still, if your cat improves your quality of life and helps you manage your symptoms, then they might be registerable as an ESA.
How Do I Make My Cat A Service Animal
Unfortunately, cats don’t qualify as a full-service animals in most places. There is a difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal, and most places only allow cats to be emotional support animals.
It’s important to know that most websites that have you pay for an emotional support animal ‘certification’ are not valid and have no legal standing.
Only health care professionals can recommend that you have an ESA. Usually, they will provide their documentation stating that you should have an ESA and that your animal is protected under the fair housing act.
Can I Register My Cat As An Emotional Support Animal in the UK
A cat cannot be registered as an emotional support animal in the UK. They won’t have any of the housing protections ESAs are given in the United States. While the UK currently has laws protecting service animals, they do not have any laws allowing for or protecting ESAs.
This can also cause problems for U.S. citizens abroad in the UK. That’s because ESAs have some travel rights in the United States, but they don’t have any travel rights in the UK.
It’s essential to look up how your animal can travel, or not, if you want to move to the UK or if you’re vacationing there.
Can Cats Be Service Animals In Canada
Cats cannot be service animals in Canada. Canada has similar laws to the United States.
Currently, cats are allowed to be emotional support animals in Canada, but they are not considered full-service animals. Only dogs are eligible to act as service animals in Canada.
Can Cats Be Service Animals In Australia
No. Australia only allows dogs to be full-service animals, and they don’t have any legal protections for ESAs. That means that emotional support cats have no legal standing or additional rights in Australia.
Can Cats Be Service Animals In Florida
Florida requires that a service animal be specifically trained to perform a service for individuals with disabilities, though it allows both physical and mental disabilities.
However, since Florida follows ADA guidelines, they only include dogs as eligible service animals. Cats can be registered as emotional support animals, which provides some rights and protections, but not as many as service dogs.
Can Cats Be Service Animals In Texas
Texas also follows federal regulations, which means that cats cannot be registered as full-service animals. However, cats can qualify as emotional support animals and cannot be barred from living with their owners.
They are even allowed to travel with their owners on planes and other transportation.
Can Cats Be Service Animals In California
California doesn’t allow cats to be full-service animals, but they do have fairly extensive emotional support animal protections. Cats registered as ESAs are allowed to live anywhere, even if the landlord usually doesn’t allow pets.
Employers in California are also required to make reasonable accommodations for ESA owners who want to bring their pets to work with them, including cats that are emotional support animals.
California also provides some travel rights and other privileges but does not allow ESAs in all public spaces. It’s essential to look at the specific regulations to understand better the different privileges given to service dogs and ESAs.
Things To Consider
It can sometimes be challenging to get your healthcare provider to agree to provide you a letter saying that you need an ESA. Part of the problem is that many people have tried to abuse ESA protections, and healthcare providers don’t want to provide protections that aren’t necessary.
Be prepared for several appointments and ongoing conversations before you are approved for an ESA. Some healthcare providers may not be willing to provide an ESA letter at all, depending on your situation and their personal opinion of ESAs.
Your landlord is also allowed to demand documentation proving that you need an ESA at any time. Once you have an ESA letter from a health care provider, it’s essential to keep a copy on hand to show your landlord.
Emotional support cats are not given the same rights and access as service dogs. One reason for the limitation is that having many animals that are not well trained for public service can distract service dogs from doing their jobs.
A distracted service dog can have disastrous consequences for both dog and owner, so it’s essential not to take your ESA anywhere they aren’t legally allowed.
Remember that having an ESA is a privilege and relatively unpopular with many lawmakers, healthcare providers, and landlords.
It’s critical to be a responsible ESA owner to help protect the legal status of ESAs and make sure everyone who needs an ESA gets the same protections as your emotional support cat.