Dogs are the most popular pets as well as emotional support animals (ESA), which has made many people assume that no other animal can serve the same purpose. The truth is that any animal can become an ESA, including cats. If you are struggling with mental health issues like anxiety or panic attacks and you would like a cat as your ESA, you will be pleased to know that you are not alone. Cats, just like dogs, are capable of providing the support and companionship that you need to help you recover from whatever emotional or mental issues you may be battling with.
Cats make great emotional support animals due to their playful and affectionate nature. The more people-oriented cat breeds such as the Ragdolls, Siamese, and Persian are just some of the ideal cat breeds for this purpose. This is because unlike their counterparts, people-oriented cat breeds have the qualities you need to keep your stress levels down such as being cuddly, playful, and sociable. The many cat videos online just go further to prove how adorable and hilarious cats can get, and who wouldn’t enjoy such company!
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If you are still not convinced that cats can improve your lifestyle, this article will change your mind. We have compiled not 1, but 7 different ways in which an emotional support cat can enhance the quality of your life if you are suffering from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and even panic attacks.
Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about how an emotional support cat can be of benefit to you. You will also find a simplified guide on how you can acquire an ESA letter to help you reap the full benefits of having an emotional support cat, as well as answers to frequently asked questions.
Number One: Cats Help You Cope Better with Stressful Situations
Stressful situations that occur in daily life such as loss of a loved one, divorce, break-ups, and even job loss can be devastating to anyone. It leaves you sad, and the normal person may find it hard to bounce back without adequate support. The resulting sadness and grief from such situations are worse for people already struggling with mental health. This is because the conditions prevent them from effectively processing calamities, which makes it difficult to get over tragedies.
Regardless of how difficult a situation is, it is necessary to cope with it, go through it, and begin a journey towards recovery. This way, you avoid getting stuck in grief for too long and get back to your normal life as soon as possible.
For those with mental health issues, a companion is critical to provide the much-needed support and strength to overcome misery during a stressful situation. And what better companion to help you overcome suffering and attain peace than an emotional support cat?
Cats as Emotional Support Animals:
Cats can dispense emotional support as well as offer companionship if you are going through a rough patch in your life. While they are known for being aloof and self-centered, cats have unique ways of expressing affection. In fact, studies show that cats have saved lives several times in the past, which shows they are not as selfish as many people assume.
With their unique friendly nature, cats play the role of emotional support animals very well. Since emotional support animals tend to be quite close to their owners, emotional support cats create strong connections with their owners. This means that when you are going through difficult times, your cat can sense your distress easily.
If you are emotionally disrupted, your emotional support cat will offer cuddles and help you feel better by coming to you and getting you to stroke it. This simple act of stroking your cat’s head goes a long way in helping you calm down. It also makes your cat feel loved and helps you form a strong bond with your furry friend over time.
With a consistent companion by your side, you can move on from your grief and get back to a healthier way of life much faster.
Number Two: Your Life Becomes More Cheerful
Mental Illness Result in Feelings of Loneliness:
According to our nature as humans, we are social beings who are always in need of companionship. This explains why we make friends and keep our loved ones close. No matter the size of your social circle, there is always that one person who understands you better than anyone else and you can trust them with everything. Sadly, mental health issues rob you of the satisfaction that comes with meaningful relationships as it leaves you feeling alone and isolated.
If you are struggling with mental health, the condition may stop you from interacting with others. It leads you to become distant, eventually making you lonely. Feelings of loneliness tend to aggravate existing mental health problems as you become more conscious when around other people, resulting in heightened anxiety.
While good friends who can stick by you for most of the journey exist, they may not always be there for you when you need them. As such, you need a companion you can fully rely on to be there as you go through emotional ups and downs as a result of your mental health condition.
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Your ESA’s Attention Brings You the Change You Need in Your Life:
Since you can’t always count on your family or friends to be there all the time, an emotional support cat is your best bet. Your cat will always be present to play, cuddle, and boost your mood whenever you feel lonely. It will brighten your moody days and bring cheer to your life whenever you feel all alone.
You don’t have to worry about isolation when you have an emotional support cat. Your furry friend will stick by your side and stay home with you when you don’t feel like interacting with the outside world. Remember that cats can be very entertaining too. This means you won’t be bored even as you distance yourself from others. What’s more, your cat will give you complete attention whenever you are together, which comes with its perks. According to studies, the cat’s purr may act as therapy for some individuals who are struggling with mental health.
Getting an emotional support cat will, therefore, enhance your quality of life by offering you a companion who instills a sense of peace and calmness. You will be entertained by your cat’s playful nature improving your mood and keeping you cheerful. With an emotional support cat by your side, you will relax, stay calm, and cheerful, as well as deal with your mental health issues in a better way.
Number Three: You Feel Motivated To Live A Healthier Lifestyle
Mental health conditions lead to coping mechanisms that most times are unhealthy. For example, some people who deal with anxiety by binge eating which ends up doing more harm than good. When suffering from mental health disorders, it can be difficult to make healthy choices for yourself. Mental disorders also come with side effects such as.
- Withdrawal from activities and people
- Poor judgment
- Detachment from reality
- Feeling consistently low
The above effects make anyone struggling with mental health vulnerable and unable to think clearly or make the best decisions. This may culminate in more problems in the long term such as inactivity, discontent, and negativity.
A series of healthy choices such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting quality rest, and staying away from drugs and harmful habits enables you to live a happy, content life. Unfortunately, people struggling with mental issues have limited ability to make these healthy choices and stay healthy. This happens mainly due to losing interest in things that previously brought joy.
Your Cat Will Drive You Towards Healthy Living:
If living healthy seems like too much work for you and you lack the motivation to carry out healthy activities, an emotional support cat can help.
Even though cats are known for laziness and sleeping all day, they love to play too. When your cat is in the mood to play, you will be forced to join sometimes, which may bring back your interest and energy to get active. This will push you out of your comfort zone as you appreciate the little playtimes you get to share with your furry friend.
What’s more, most cats love routines when it comes to their meals. This means that if you feed your emotional support cat when you are supposed to be taking breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you might just have to sync your mealtimes with your cat. It’s no secret that cats are impatient with their food and if it’s breakfast time, you will have to get up and fix your kitty something to eat. This will lead you to also get yourself breakfast and regain your healthy eating habits.
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It may be annoying at first as it will seem like your emotional support cat is just throwing tantrums. However, with time, you will get to appreciate the times you spend playing and feeding with your support animal.
Not only will your emotional support cat help you adopt healthy living, but the fun you will have will trigger your brain to release endorphins which make you feel happy and alleviate some of the symptoms of mental disorders. Whether it is eating healthy, getting physically active, or resting more, an emotional support cat will help drive you to live healthy which improves your overall lifestyle.
Number Four: You Will Sleep Better
Getting inadequate sleep can lead to irritability and low energy levels. You need sleep to rejuvenate and re-energize yourself, as well as achieve optimal brain function. Sleep deprivation in the long run impairs your ability to process emotions and thoughts, thereby aggravating existing mental health disorders.
Mental Health Problems Negatively Affects Sleep:
Sleep deprivation occurs as a result of age, hormone imbalance, stress, depression, and even the demanding nature of day to day routines like school and work. While there are varied reasons for lack of sleep, if you are suffering from mental health conditions, you may find it more difficult to fall asleep.
For example, when you are stressed you tend to struggle to fall asleep. This usually occurs because mental distress leads to reduced melatonin levels, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep. It is, therefore, safe to say that constant mental distress translates to very low melatonin levels, and therefore sleep deprivation.
Enjoy Adequate and Quality Sleep with the Help of an Emotional Support Cat:
According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, most people who slept with their cat or dog reported having slept better as a result of having their pet in bed with them. Similarly, an emotional support cat can help you sleep better if you have sleeping problems. Your support cat becomes a source of security and relaxation and gives you a sense of companionship which aids in falling asleep.
Being surrounded by cats as well as spending time with them may also help calm your nerves. For example, if you have a hard time sleeping, you can stroke your cat to calm down. Surrounding yourself with cats, and spending some time with them will calm your nerves and help your mind function optimally.
Stroking your emotional support cat when you can’t sleep may help calm your nerves, help you relax, and make you fall asleep much faster. This is because as you relax and your brain gets to function as it should, it triggers the release of adequate melatonin that you need to attain quality and adequate shut-eye.
Also, getting to snuggle with your emotional support cat can help ease anxiety as it makes you feel safe. This is especially true for lone sleepers who get anxious before bedtime. Just by cuddling with your cat, you can achieve mental relaxation that paves the way to quality sleep. After all, the ability to fall asleep highly depends on both your mental and physical relaxation.
Do you have trouble sleeping and would like to obtain an ESA letter for your cat? Keep reading as we have detailed the steps of getting an ESA letter online.
Number Five: You Will Experience Unconditional Love
Everyone yearns to be loved and cared for. However, people living with mental health disorders may not experience the satisfaction that comes with being genuinely loved and cared for. This may occur because of the distorted perspective on life resulting from mental health problems that lead you to believe that no one loves you.
Sometimes, some mental health issues are hard to identify and treat early, causing them to deteriorate. While this may just be one reason the signs of mental health problems are overlooked, other reasons may stem from the lack of concern from family and friends.
Mental health disorders can lead to a series of unpleasant reactions in those struggling with them. Not only does it result in agitation and emotional instability, but may also cause you to maltreat others and be mean to them even when you don’t mean to. This makes it difficult for the people around you to handle the situation and care for you properly especially if they have little understanding of what you are going through.
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A condition like a bipolar disorder that causes extreme changes in behavior can quickly overwhelm your caregiver. This may lead to frustration on the part of your caregiver, resulting in strained relationships in the long term.
In some circumstances, the person taking care of an individual with a mental disorder goes to the extent of withdrawing their services. This may add to feelings of guilt, self-hate, and resentment in the person suffering from mental issues as it feels like they are being a burden to others. While it may be difficult to deal with mental health issues, it doesn’t have to be a journey full of negative emotions.
Unconditional Love from an Emotional Support Cat
If you feel like you are not getting the support, care, or love that you expect from the people around you, you don’t have to despair. Sometimes, human beings may not be in a position to always offer love either due to getting tired or simply their inability to be empathetic. An emotional support cat, on the other hand, will show you unconditional love and stick with you without complaints or resentment.
Cats have unique ways of expressing their affection. They can cuddle, rub their head against you, or even get you to stroke them. Whatever a cat’s love language is, it always leaves a lasting impression on people who need it the most. If you are struggling with mental health, this show of affection can brighten your mood and help you feel much better.
It doesn’t matter how emotionally unavailable or unstable you may be, your emotional support cat won’t complain or leave you to battle it out alone. No matter how emotionally disturbed you may be, your feline friend will never complain. Instead, it will offer unconditional love, attention, support, and companionship that may be impossible to achieve with people. The love you receive from your cat will positively impact how you view things and gradually change your life for the better.
Number Six: Your Blood Pressure Remains In Control
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension usually occurs due to several factors such as high consumption of salt and fats, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, family history, age, and even stress. A majority of adults suffer from hypertension, with most being uncontrolled while others are undiagnosed. Some people are not even aware of the symptoms.
In case you are wondering what to look out for, below are some signs that indicate you may be suffering from high blood pressure.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Visual impairment
Note that although the above signs indicate that you need to seek immediate medical attention, some people do not experience symptoms. This can lead to even more complications such as aneurysm and cardiac arrest.
How does HBP correlate with mental issues?
It is a popular belief that high blood pressure only affects the cardiovascular system. However, high blood pressure can also clog blood vessels in the brain causing dementia. It also puts you at risk of mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression. This is because hypertensive individuals tend to worry so much about their future health, and also experience increased negative thoughts. Therefore, they are more predisposed to mental health problems.
If you are struggling with mental health issues and also suffer from hypertension, stress can aggravate your symptoms and make your condition worse. As such, you need to ensure that your mental health is in top shape to effectively manage your high blood pressure. The good thing is that with the help of an emotional support cat, you can improve your mental health while keeping your blood pressure under control.
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Keeps Your BP Under Control:
Whether or not you have the symptoms of hypertension, it is important to maintain your blood pressure within a normal range. Most people tend to prefer medications as they offer a fast and convenient solution to high blood pressure.
While it is understandable to opt for quick relief, medications are not your only option when it comes to controlling high blood pressure. Emotional support cats are also a great way to decrease high blood pressure. Although an emotional support cat may not provide instant results, it can effectively help you manage your blood pressure without the side effects that come with medications.
Reports have shown that hypertensive individuals with cats or dogs experience low blood pressure when under stressful situations. Likewise, cats can help you calm down which works as some form of soothing therapy when you are under stress, thus keeping your blood pressure in control.
The psychological benefits of having an emotional support cat such as boosting your mood also help reduce negative thoughts that may spike your blood pressure. As such, you get to enjoy better cardiovascular health while improving your mental health.
Number Seven: You Have A Better Social Life
Whether you harbor past insecurities or social anxiety, people suffering from mental disorders may find it hard to interact with others, maintain their relationships, or even appear in public. If you are struggling with mental health issues, your social life may take a hit since one of the effects include withdrawing from people and lack of interest in favorite activities.
Whatever your mental health disorder is, you may distance yourself from people due to fears of being judged or mocked. This often occurs as a result of anxiety build-up which may eventually cause you to completely stop appearing in public places. The good thing is that you don’t have to suffer isolation when you can overcome your fears with the help of an emotional support cat.
Your Feline Friend Will Add Value to Your Social Life:
An emotional support cat will improve your lifestyle by boosting your social life through forced interactions. By having an animal to talk to even if it won’t talk back, you dispel any feelings of loneliness and isolation that you may have. The little conversations you will sometimes have with your furry friend will help you express your feelings and even vent when you need to without the fear of being judged.
Another way your cat can boost your social life is by forcing you to interact with the outside doors. You may want to play with your emotional support cat outside, which may end up with you interacting with other people outdoors.
Individuals who can form deep connections with pets and assisting animals can replicate the same with human interactions. For this reason, having an emotional support cat improves your ability to form meaningful and healthy relationships with human beings, therefore, improving the quality of your social life.
As animals can sense our emotions, you can count on your ESA for companionship when you are feeling down. What’s more, your cat might just come to you when you are not at your best mentally to help calm you down. An emotional support cat will make a huge contribution to your social life as it not only helps you feel more connected to your community but also provide the companionship and relationship benefits that you would get from a human friend.
With an ESA cat, you will learn how to best handle your insecurities, interact with people more, and even start going out and being social. This way, you get to progress much faster in your journey to recovery and improve your overall quality of life.
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Getting an ESA Letter
Seeing how an emotional support cat can positively impact your overall lifestyle, it is only right to have one by your side if you are struggling with mental health problems. Unfortunately, with housing and traveling regulations, you may not be able to always have your emotional support cat with you whenever you need it. This is because some landlords don’t allow animals on their promises, and neither do airlines.
Although restrictions exist, you can bypass them with the help of an ESA letter. An Emotional Support Animal letter gives you permission to live and travel with your cat wherever, giving you the chance to fully benefit from your emotional support animal.
Keep in mind that ESA letters can only be issued by a licensed healthcare professional after ascertaining that an emotional support animal is necessary for your treatment and wellbeing. The letter enables you to be with your cat even in places it may not be normally welcomed.
With that said, getting an ESA letter online is the most convenient way to obtain one, especially if you are not comfortable with discussing your mental health in a person with a healthcare professional. It also comes in handy when you are currently not undergoing therapy but need an ESA letter from a licensed professional. The procedure of acquiring an ESA letter is a simple one and will only take you 3 simple steps.
Steps of Getting an ESA Letter:
Step 1: Provide your details to the registry
The first step when getting an ESA letter is filling out a questionnaire with basic details of both you and your emotional support animal, which in this case is your cat. You will also need to provide answers to questions regarding your medical history. Lastly, you will be required to answer some questions about your medical history in this step. This data is then added to the medical record’s database.
Step 2: Make an Appointment
After filling out the form with your basic information, you will need to make an appointment with a licensed healthcare professional. Here, you get to choose the time and date that is most convenient for you.
Step 3: Consultation with a Licensed Mental Health Provider
On your appointment day, you will be connected to a licensed mental healthcare provider for assessment. During your consultation, your healthcare provider will ask you to share details of your mental condition for evaluation.
After providing your medical history, you will then be required to take a few tests. Your healthcare provider will then make a decision based on the results of the test to issue you with an ESA letter.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Emotional Support Animals:
Q: Who is Eligible for an Emotional Support Animal?
Anyone suffering from a mental health disorder is eligible for an emotional support animal. Mental healthcare practitioners recommend emotional support animals to people struggling with mental health as they also suffer from emotional trauma.
While wounds resulting from physical trauma are visible, scars from mental trauma are not. This makes it hard to deal with emotional and psychological wounds. Mental health diseases usually involve anxiety, loneliness, and even depression, and coping with psychological issues may prove difficult.
Some common mental health disorders include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)
- Panic Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
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Q: Do Emotional Support Animals Require Special Training?
Emotional support animals do not need any specialized training. Unlike service animals, ESAs are solely for the purpose of providing emotional support by relieving symptoms of those suffering from mental health issues. Therefore, while FHA states that it is not necessary to train an emotional support animal, your ESA must offer health benefits to alleviate the symptoms or impacts of mental conditions.
Q: Who Can Issue an ESA Letter?
Only licensed healthcare professionals can issue you with an ESA letter. Since ESA letters allow you to live with your emotional support animal, FHA permits professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, therapy counselors, and family physicians to issue them.
Always ensure you get your ESA letter from a licensed professional as the recommendations act as a legal permit to live or travel with your animal.
Q: How Do Emotional Support Animals Differ from Assisting Animals?
Emotional support animals and assisting animals are the same thing. The terms are used interchangeably to refer to animals that provide company and emotional support to individuals with mental health issues. However, most people confuse assisting animals with service animals.
While assisting animals is another name for emotional support animals, service animals are animals that help people who are physically challenged to perform certain tasks. Service animals usually receive specialized training to perform specific tasks for their owners. A good example is a dog trained to lead the visually impaired.
Q: Do I Incur Accommodation Fee for Keeping an Emotional Support Animal?
If you are worried about having to pay for accommodation for your ESA, you will be pleased to know that an ESA won’t add to your financial responsibilities in the form of an accommodation fee. This is because an ESA letter legally permits you to live with your support animal for free. Since FHA classifies ESAs as supporting animals, your landlord cannot force you to pay any fee before allowing you to live with your ESA.
Q: Can My Landlord Restrict Me from Keeping an ESA Depending on Type or Breed of the Animal?
Your landlord has no power to restrict you from keeping an ESA based on the type or breed of the animal. The Fair Housing Act prevents the landlord from denying you an ESA as long as you have an authentic ESA letter.
You can, therefore, acquire an emotional support animal of whatever age, breed, or type without having to worry about your landlord’s restrictions. However, be sure to obtain an authentic ESA letter in order to protect both your rights and that of your support animal.
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Whatever takeaways you get from this article, one thing you should keep in mind is that an emotional support cat can turn your life around for the better. With the above tips on how to get an ESA letter combined with answers to some common questions, acquiring an emotional support cat should not be a daunting task. Make a decision today to improve your lifestyle with the help of an emotional support cat and live a healthier, happier life.