KITTENS

How to Register a Cat as an Emotional Support Animal: Make It Official

Image of a woman holding a kitty in the yard
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

It is scientifically proven that having cats is beneficial to our health. Due to their cuteness and adorable purrs, cats can provide calm, comfort, security, and friendship that can ease the symptoms of people who are suffering from mental and emotional disabilities. You consider your cat your guardian angel because her presence helps soothe your mental or emotional disability. You’d like to be able to take her with you everywhere you go, but to do that, you need to first understand how to register a cat as an emotional support animal. Don’t worry; it’s not that difficult.

Your feline doesn’t have to have some training or special behaviors—the thing that qualifies your cat as an emotional support animal is that she alleviate the symptoms of your disability. Cats are great pets to have by nature, and the aura of calm they possess can alleviate the symptoms of mental and emotional disability and help with the quality of life of people who suffer from them.

A pregnant woman and a kitten sitting on a bed

Once the soothing effect of her presence is acknowledged by a professional as a medically beneficial fact, you will be able to keep her with you even if you live in no-pet housings. You will also be able to bring her with you on airplane rides with much less hassle than if she weren’t registered as an emotional support animal. The two of you will be inseparable by law.

In this article, we will provide you with all necessary information regarding what an emotional support animal is, how they differ from service and therapy animals, laws and regulations regarding this type of animals, and why it is important to have a letter that proves that your cat is your emotional support animal.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal is a person’s pet which is prescribed to them by a licensed mental health professional (therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist) to help alleviate said person’s symptoms of mental or emotional disability.

An emotional support animal provides unconditional and nonjudgmental love and companionship.

Many people think that service, therapy, and emotional support animals are all the same and that they provide the same kind of comfort to their owners, but this is not the case. We will fill you in on the exact roles they play in providing relief to people with disabilities.

Service animals have to go through extensive training before they are able to aid and assist a person with a disability. And more often than not they are dogs. They are trained to provide help to people who are suffering from visual impairment, hearing impairment, mobility impairment, seizures, or PTSD in their day-to-day activities.

Therapy animals travel with their owners in schools, hospitals, nursing homes or other places in order to provide short-term companionship to kids and patients.

Emotional Support cat and her owner

The goal of these visits is for the animal in question to provide joy and entertainment in that way that helps improve the patient’s outlook and help ease some of their symptoms.

Emotional support animals provide support to their owner, and they don’t have to go through any special training to do so. Their presence alone is enough to provide comfort and relief to help the patient minimize the negative symptoms of their mental or emotional disability so they could successfully complete major life activities.

The major life activities are defined by The Americans with Disabilities Act as: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, sleeping, eating, hearing, seeing, walking, standing, breathing, working, lifting, bending, learning, reading, concentrating, and communicating.

An emotional support animal simply needs to be well-behaved in public and have a close bond with its ESA owner.

Emotional support animals have been proven to be very effective at alleviating the symptoms of people suffering from:

  • Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Postpartum Depression

  • Depression

  • Phobias and Fears

  • General Anxiety Disorder

  • Panic Disorder

  • Bipolar Disorder

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder

How to Register a Cat as an Emotional Support Animal

In spite of common beliefs, it is actually very simple to register your kitty as an emotional support animal. Before you proceed with the registration of your cat, you will have to acquire the letter from a mental health professional that will attest that your cat helps you with your disability. This process is easy and doesn’t take long.

You only need to make an appointment with your mental health professional, explain that your cat’s companionship provides you with relief from symptoms, and if your doctor agrees, he or she will then give you a letter.

Psychologist And Patient

There are a lot of websites that offer to register your cat as an emotional support animal for money. We advise you to be cautious because most of them will sell a false letter of registration that can cause you many troubles. You are not legally required to register your emotional support animal; you only need a letter from a mental health professional.

Benefits of Registering Your Cat as an Emotional Support Animal

Every cat owner knows that cats are highly intelligent, full of affection, and that they exude a sense of calm. Their playful nature and limitless curiosity make them the perfect emotional support animals. Not to mention they are extremely cute and able to brighten even the darkest of days.

And in those darkest of days, when you find even the thought of getting out of bed difficult, your furry bundle of joy will be there to provide you with the comfort and strength you need to get up and keep moving. Just hearing the soft purrs your kitty makes while you pet her will instantly improve your mood.

It is scientifically proven that petting a cat plays a big role in our well-being. Petting our furry ball of joy produces a hormonal relaxation response that helps reduces stress and cortisol levels, as well as lower blood pressure and heart rate. This can provide a great relief for people who are suffering from anxiety, PTSD, and depression.

Black and white image of An emotional support cat and her owner

If your cat is registered as an emotional support animal, everyone—especially commercial service providers—will have to acknowledge that her presence is indispensable to you, so they wouldn’t try to separate you even if they otherwise would have.

The two special privilege primary Federal Laws that apply to emotional support animals are Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act. We will sum them for you, so you know exactly what rights you and your emotional support kitty have.

Fair Housing Act

As the name suggests, this one is related to accommodation.

  • Owners of emotional support animals are legally permitted to keep their support animals even if they happen to stay in a housing that does not allow pets.

  • This law also states that your landlord can’t ban your emotional support cat because of her breed.

  • Your cat has the free access to all areas of the property where other tenants are able to go.

  • Besides, you are not required to pay a pet fee for your emotional support cat, because according to this law, your cat is an assistance animal and not just a pet.

  • Additionally, you are not under any obligation to provide any certificate of special training for your cat.

Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act provides legal requirements that all persons with disability in need of an emotional support animal are able to travel by plane.

  • Your emotional support cat can travel with you in the plane cabin. Your emotional support cat is allowed to sit in your lap during the flight, or you can place her under your seat if you think that will be more comfortable for both of you.

  • This law also states that no airline can require unreasonable advanced notice before offering their services to a person with a disability. This law also prevents the airline from asking any questions about the type of disability, and they are obligated to allow you and your emotional support cat to travel via plane.

  • You are also excluded from paying any pet-related fees when you are traveling with an emotional support animal.

It is important to remember that once you are airborne, your kitty won’t have access to her litter box, so it is best to restrict her access to food and water before embarking. Be sure that she has fulfilled all her needs before you leave the house.

Entry to Other Public Places

Unlike service animals that are permitted to all public places, emotional support animals are not automatically allowed everywhere, but they will be allowed entry to most of everywhere.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act apply if you want to take your emotional support cat to your workplace, school, or college. If you are experiencing the symptoms of your disability at your workplace or school, it is better to bring your cat to provide you comfort.

An emotional support cat at someone's work office

Although, if you are planning to do so, it is best to talk first with your boss or principal about your need for emotional support animal. Also, keep in mind that your kitty must be well behaved and pose no risk to others in your environment.

Hotels, restaurants, shops, public transportation, libraries, etc., are the places where your emotional support cat may be treated like other pets if the institution isn’t pet-friendly. But you can always try to explain to business owners that your kitty serves as an emotional support animal that helps you cope with the symptoms of your disability. Many of them will allow you access even if they are not legally obligated.

Now that we have mentioned the reasons why you should register your cat as an emotional support animal, there are also reasons why you should not register your cat as an emotional support animal.

Maine Coon cat sitting in the front of the fireplace.

In recent years, many people find out that emotional support animals and their owners have certain benefits and they try to take advantage of them. Most of them only want to travel for free with their pets and get that great apartment that isn’t pet-friendly.

These actions undermine the credibility of people who are really in need of an emotional support animal. If you are not in need of an emotional support animal, don’t try to register your pet as one. The only thing that qualifies you to register your cat as an emotional support animal is if you and your doctor think it can help you minimize the symptoms of a mental or emotional disability.

Wrap Up

If you are in need of an emotional support animal and you don’t have one just yet, we suggest that you adopt a kitty that will serve as your friend. An emotional support cat will help alleviate symptoms of your disability.

Because of their playful and independent nature, cats are excellent as emotional support animals. We’ve all experienced the calming effect that radiates from our cat when we caress her soft fur, and she treats us with purrs of enjoyment. They provide great comfort and relief of negative symptoms for people with emotional and mental disabilities.

A girl holding a cat

If you are already living with a cat and yet he or she hasn’t been registered as an emotional support animal yet so you can’t bring her to public places, all you need to do is ask the medical professional responsible for monitoring your condition for a letter.

Once you’ve got the letter, you will be able to provide the proof of your disability and the need to have an emotional support animal to your landlord. Also, it is your right not to disclose the type of disability you have to your landlord, and he or she has no legal rights to ask you.

You will also be allowed to fly with your emotional support cat once you have obtained a letter from your mental health professional confirming that you are suffering from mental or emotional disability and that your cat is the part of your treatment.

A womans hand holding a cats hand

We hope that we managed to answer all the questions you might have had on how to register a cat as an emotional support animal. Now you know what legal rights owners of emotional support animals have so don’t hesitate to bring them everywhere with you.

Are you already living with a wonderful, emotionally supportive cat? Or are you currently looking to adopt one to help alleviate the symptoms of a mental or emotional disability? If you have more information on how to register a cat as an emotional support animal, please share it with our readers and us in the comment section below.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.

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