Emotional support animals (ESA) are companion animals and provide significant relief to many individuals with certain mental health conditions or disabilities. Cats are a common emotional support animal due to their lower maintenance care needs, their ability to sense emotions in their owners, and the comfort and relief they provide with their presence. 

If you have an emotional support cat in your life and you want to make sure they always stay by your side, proper registration and documents are essential for your companion. Our article gives you more details on how to achieve this.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a type of companion animal that many individuals with mental health conditions or disabilities benefit from. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals can be any type of animal and they are not trained to help with specific disability-related tasks, such as retrieving items or opening and closing doors. Instead, emotional support animals provide comfort and relief with their presence and the routine that caring for these animals provides.

It’s important to note that because emotional support animals differ from service animals, they are not granted the same type of legal protections – emotional support animals don’t have wide-reaching public access rights, though they are protected by federal housing rights. This is to ensure any individual can live with their ESA despite other pet restrictions or policies that might be in place.

How Do I Register My Cat as an Emotional Support Animal?

Registering your cat as an emotional support animal requires meeting with a mental healthcare provider that is licensed in your state. Your provider will speak to you about your issues, provide you with a diagnosis, and evaluate your eligibility for an emotional support animal. If you qualify for an ESA, you will receive a letter from your provider that states this need. You can then use your letter to ensure your emotional support animal is granted accommodations to live alongside you, no matter where you live.

Examples of conditions that may qualify for the assistance of an ESA include anxiety, depression, chronic stress, OCD, sensory disorders, and PTSD. In general, conditions and disabilities that don’t require a service dog but could still benefit from the support of a companion animal will qualify for an emotional support animal. 

It’s important to speak with your doctor or mental healthcare provider if you are considering adding one of these wonderful companions into your life.

What Are My ESA Rights?

As you work towards obtaining an emotional support animal registration for your cat in your state, it’s important that you also understand the rights that a legal emotional support animal letter grants you. ESA rights are protected federally by the Fair Housing Act.  This act was created to prevent discrimination against individuals who need their companion animal to live alongside them.

Your rights under the Fair Housing Act enable you to request reasonable accommodations for your emotional support animal. When these rights are granted, and they must be unless your animal is destructive, aggressive, or dangerous, you will be able to live with your ESA in any housing regardless of breed restrictions, pet policies, and pet fees. You will not be required to pay additional pet rent each month, nor will you need to pay additional pet deposits or pet security fees.

To obtain these rights, you will need to submit your emotional support animal letter to your landlord or rental agency to inform them of your need for an ESA. Next steps will be taken according to state policies; check with your landlord and the Fair Housing Act directly for more specific information.

Keeping Your Cat Companion by Your Side

For many individuals, emotional support animals are essential companions that need to stay by their side so they can receive the benefits these animals bring. When it comes to ensuring you live alongside your emotional support animal, you must obtain the proper documents to keep your ESA in housing with you and take advantage of your federally protected rights. Emotional support animal registration is the best way to do this, and you will need to work with a mental healthcare provider licensed in your state to learn if you qualify for an ESA and what your next steps should be.

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Last Update: January 4, 2024