by Titunes Kittens

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Your cat your emotional support animal

Your cat, your emotional support animal

After reading some people’s comments about bad experiences trying to fly with their pets, I realized the confusion about when a pet is considered support in case of disabilities. Not because we have a dog with a vest that says “Service dog,” that means cats can do it, or we are free to put them on a flight without any restriction. 

Some cats can help cope with mental illness or extreme anxiety, but still, they are not “service animals” since this category is exclusive to other species like dogs. Even though this limitation, some cats serve as “Emotional Support Animals,” and we will explain their characteristics soon, but first, we need to understand what is a service animal. 

According to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), inside the classification:

“A service animal is a dog, in some cases can be a horse, individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.”

Your cat your emotional support animal

What about cats? Unfortunately, cats don’t qualify as service animals. Even though they can receive training, their level of response is lower than in dogs. Considering that a service animal should help blind people to walk, alert deaf people, or have the ability to pull a wheelchair, cats do not qualify for this kind of job. Still, they can offer support as emotional support animals (ESA) or therapy pets.

An emotional support animal is any pet that provides a therapeutic benefit (e.g., emotional support, comfort, companionship) to a person with a mental health or psychiatric disability (such as a severe mental health condition).

In this category, also there are also two other roles that an animal can fulfill: Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) or Animal-Assisted Activities Therapy (AAA). 

Animal Assited Therapy(AAT)

A health professional incorporates the animal into a patient’s treatment plan, stipulating a certain number of sessions and duration. Also, known as pet therapy, inclusive in cancer patients treatments.

Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA)

These types of activities happen when a specially trained professional or volunteer visits specific locations like hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, rehab centers, etc, with animals that possess a unique character. These animals should be able to motivate, educate or benefit in some way the people’s life quality. Visits are spontaneous and not planned short meet-and-greet sessions.

Your cat your emotional support animal
Your cat, your emotional support animal

Some people suffer from anxiety or incapacitating conditions like depression, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, and phobias, where cats or other animals can provide comfort. 

No matter your kitty’s breed or age, your kitty can qualify as ESA, but remember, always check the law in your state. You must always register your pet and match the requirement for these categories with the ESA organization.

The difference between our beloved pet and a pet that qualifies as an emotional support animal is almost invisible. Still, as a pet owner, you probably know that each animal has its unique personality.

The benefits of an emotional support pet are:


Emotional support cats don’t need a vest, leash, or tag like dogs, but having one when you visit a public place with your registered ESA pet can be helpful. You still need a letter from a licensed mental health doctor for your pet since the ESA requires it.
Also, if your landlord does allow pets, the law(The Fair Housing Act) establishes that you can keep your pet once they have confirmed registration as ESA; so sorry, landlord….but the kitty stays.

For traveling with your ESA friend, you need to consider travel companies’ policies; not all airlines accept ESA pets, but still, some allow it. Cruisers companies like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, and Disney Cruises are very rigid and only get service dogs in a few cases; with the extra cost, you need to check their policies since they are very different.

I am optimistic that in the upcoming years, more travel companies will become “pet friendly.” New hotels, resorts, and shops move towards the pet parent market daily, accepting our furry kids.

My cat my emotional support animal

My cats are not ESA registered, but I can tell you that they are there for me whenever I feel down, sad, or anxious. Seeing their little faces when I wake up just positively changes my day. None of them would enjoy being outside the house like dogs do, so I would only expose them to a public place if it is essential.

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
― Ernest Hemingway