Emotional support animals (ESA) are helpful companion animals that bring certain mental health benefits to their owners. Emotional support animals can be any type of animal, though cats and dogs are the most popular choice for companion animals due to their prevalence and the ease of caring for these pets.
If you have a cat and want to register them as an emotional support animal or if you are considering adopting a cat as an ESA, our article tells you how to register your cat so they can stay by your side.
What Are Emotional Support Animals?
Emotional support animals are animals that provide relief from certain mental health symptoms and comfort their owners with their presence. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals aren’t trained to complete any specific task, and they aren’t utilized to help relieve the specific symptoms of a life-impacting disability.
That being said, many individuals who experience mental health problems such as anxiety, chronic stress, depression, and disorders like OCD might benefit from the presence of an emotional support animal in their lives. ESAs give their owners a sense of routine and provide them with companionship, both of which help to boost moods, combat negative feelings, and give individuals a sense of purpose.
Additionally, studies have shown that interacting with your emotional support animal or another pet can improve mood and encourage relief from certain mental health conditions. Further research into the benefits that ESAs provide is still being carried out today.
What Rights Will My Emotional Support Animal Have?
While emotional support animals don’t have the same wide-reaching public access rights as service animals, they are granted rights by the Fair Housing Act. This act states that individuals cannot be discriminated against when it comes to seeking housing with a disability, and that individuals in need of support animals or emotional support animals must be granted reasonable housing accommodations.
Your emotional support animal will be able to live with you in any home or rental unit you choose, regardless of what the landlord or rental agency says about pets. You will also not be required to pay any additional pet fees, pet deposit, or pet rent, as these items can be considered discriminatory when you need your ESA to help relieve symptoms of a mental health issue.
How Do I Register My Cat as an ESA?
Registering your cat as an ESA doesn’t require a formal process or a specific set of requirements that you will need to meet. To get your cat registered as an emotional support animal, you will need to speak to a licensed mental healthcare provider and receive a letter stating that you need an emotional support animal.
This letter will need to be signed, and you will present this letter to any landlord or rental agency you work with to ensure that you can comfortably live with your cat without paying extra fees or being subject to pet restrictions that a building might have in place.
It's important that you pay attention to state requirements when it comes to your ESA, as you will need to make sure that any specifics regarding how long you’ve been seeing your licensed mental healthcare provider or other requirements for the ESA registration letter are completed.
Can My Landlord Deny My ESA?
It might be possible for your landlord to deny your emotional support animal, but this typically only happens when your accommodation request for an ESA is not reasonable or possible. For example, you cannot move several large dogs into a small studio apartment, as it wouldn’t be possible to care for them properly.
When it comes to registering your cat as an ESA, you aren’t likely to have a problem, as most spaces can accommodate small animals like cats. As long as your cat isn’t creating significant destruction or hazards or others around your home, your accommodation request must be approved.
Registering Your Cat Companion as an ESA
Cats make wonderful emotional support animals, and if you think that you would benefit from the presence of an ESA in your life, your first step is to speak to a licensed mental healthcare provider. From there, you can obtain an ESA letter that affirms your need for a cat companion, and you will be able to take advantage of the federal housing rights provided for your emotional support animal so your kitty never needs to leave your side.