What Disabilities Qualify for an ESA Cat?
People with mental health or emotional disorders may find that their pet helps alleviate some of the symptoms of their condition. In these cases, a mental health professional such as a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist will prescribe a pet, such as a cat, as an emotional support animal (ESA). Many mental health conditions may qualify for an ESA cat, the most important factor is that the patient’s mental health professional believes that the cat is vital to their mental well-being.
Anxiety disorders, such as general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are good candidates for an ESA cat because they often alleviate some of their owner’s anxiety. People who suffer from mood disorders such as depression, postpartum depression, or bipolar disorder may find that the companionship of their ESA cat helps them better manage their symptoms. Other disorders such as impulse control disorders or personality disorders may also benefit from the stability and companionship that an ESA can provide.
Breeds of Cats That Qualify for ESA Status
Generally speaking, any breed of cat can be an ESA. With that said, there are some breeds of cats that may be better suited to being an ESA. One of the most popular ESA cat breeds is the American Shorthair, as they are also consistently one of the most common house cat breeds. They are known for their well-rounded temperaments and intelligence. The Siamese is also a very popular ESA cat breed because of their bold personalities and fierce loyalty to their owners. Ragdoll cats also make great ESAs because they are so friendly and affectionate. They are also good at learning dog-like tricks such as rolling over and even playing fetch. The maincoon, a breed increasing in popularity among cat owners, may also make a great ESA. They are highly trainable and tend to make strong bonds with their owners.
Though some cat breeds may have characteristics that make them good ESAs, that doesn’t mean that your mix-breed can’t do the job as well. Overall, the most important characteristic of an ESA cat is that they help support your mental well-being or help alleviate symptoms of a mental health disorder.
Legal Protections for Emotional Support Cats
The rights of people with ESA cats are supported by two ironclad federal laws: the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. The main goal of these acts is to prevent people who need ESAs from being discriminated against when searching for housing or traveling by air.
People with ESA cats can legally live in “no pets” housing without having to pay any additional fees because of the Fair Housing Act. It prevents landlords from denying housing to people with mental health disabilities or disorders because of their need to live with an ESA. Landlords may request the ESA letter prescribed by a mental health professional, and that it be renewed every year.
ESA cats may fly on airplanes in the main cabin with their owners thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act. This act ensures that people who need ESAs still have equal access to air transportation and are not penalized because of their needs. Airlines are not allowed to charge fees for the travel of an ESA cat, and they may typically ride next to their owner in a carrier. Airlines typically require the ESA letter to be submitted sometime before the flight, and some require airline-specific documents to be submitted ahead of time as well.
If you are under the current treatment of a mental health professional for one of the above disorders and believe that a pet may alleviate some of the symptoms of your condition, you may be a good candidate for getting an ESA cat. To get your ESA cat letter, you will need to speak to your mental health professional to see if they will write you a prescription letter. If you are not currently receiving treatment from a mental health professional, you will need to seek one out and start treatment before they can determine your eligibility for an ESA cat.
Once you get your ESA cat letter, you will be ready to show it to any landlord or transportation agencies that may need it. If you have a cat that already fits the bill of an ESA and helps alleviate the symptoms of your mental health disorder or supports your well-being, it can become your ESA without any additional training. If you do not already have a cat, you can go and adopt one of any age to be your ESA. There is no training required for ESA cats, so their status will begin once you find the right fit for you.