What Is an Emotional Support Animal?
If you are a cat owner who derives comfort, companionship, and support for a mental health issue from your feline friend, you already own an emotional support animal (ESA). However, under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) terms, you will need an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional to have your emotional support animal officially recognized by housing providers. Emotional support animals typically help people with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or bipolar disorder.
An ESA can provide its owner with companionship and ease loneliness while providing emotional assistance and improving mental well-being so they can cope with the challenges of daily life. If you rely on your ESA for support with mental or emotional issues or a mental health disability, you may qualify for an ESA letter.
Which Animals Are Usually Emotional Support Animals?
Dog ownership is widespread, so it’s not surprising that dogs are the most common emotional support animals. People often choose emotional support dogs because dogs connect with humans well and can learn to perform helpful, practical tasks – although this is not a requirement for an ESA. Dogs tend to understand their owner’s emotions, making them great emotional support animals. They may also be able to assist if their owner suffers from panic attacks. However, people can derive therapeutic benefits from their relationship with any animal. Cats are widely known to be good ESAs, especially if they have a close bond with their owners.
Unlike service animals, ESAs do not have specific training requirements. However, your housing provider will expect your emotional support cat to demonstrate good behavior, especially around other animals. If you want to bring your emotional support animal with you to a public establishment – with the consent of the owner or manager, of course – good behavior will be essential.
Although dogs and cats make excellent emotional support animals, any animal can be an ESA, including rabbits, mice, rats, birds, and ferrets.
Which Cat Breeds Make the Best Emotional Support Animals?
Emotional support animals can come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. The choice of emotional support animal depends entirely on the owner’s preferences. Although dogs are the most common emotional support animals, emotional support cats are also popular. Some breeds are ideally suited to being emotional support cats. However, even if your assistance animal isn’t one of those breeds, your cat can still provide valuable emotional support for your emotional or mental disability.
Whatever their species or breed, emotional support animals serve the same purpose - to help people who are dealing with mental health challenges or emotional disabilities.
Does My Cat Qualify For An ESA Letter?
There are no rules about which animals can be considered ESAs. However, it is essential to meet with a licensed mental health professional so that your need for an emotional support animal can be evaluated and recognized with an emotional support animal letter. You will want to ensure that you choose a reputable ESA letter provider to avoid scams and be confident that you receive a genuine ESA letter that will work for your housing needs.
During the ESA evaluation process, you should be prepared to discuss your relationship with your emotional support cat with your mental health provider. During your consultation, your mental health professional may ask how your emotional support animal helps you cope with emotional challenges or mental health issues. Your cat must be more than just a pet to get a legitimate ESA letter for housing. It must be an emotional support animal that provides you with emotional assistance.
Are Emotional Support Animals the Same As Service Animals?
Although you may greatly benefit from the presence of your emotional support cat, it’s essential to understand that emotional support animals are not legally considered service animals. It has not completed the special training to help perform a specific task that assists a disabled individual. As per the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, service dogs are usually allowed in most places because they help people with physical or psychiatric disabilities.
Venues and establishments are not required to admit your emotional support cat, even if you have a valid ESA letter. They may have a rule against admitting any animals that aren’t service animals, even if you have an ESA letter, and your cat may be denied entry. However, if you discuss your situation with the owner or manager, they may decide to accommodate your request, especially if you can show them a valid ESA letter. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, this also applies to airlines, which are required to admit service animals but not ESAs.
If you are granted access, be prepared for establishments such as restaurants, shops, and libraries to request that your cat stays in a cage or pet carrier. They may ask that you use a leash – which could take time for your cat to get used to.
Can I Live with My Emotional Support Cat?
Emotional support cat owners with proper documentation enjoy specific housing rights under federal law, whether they have a cat or a dog. As long as your assistance animal is domesticated and well-behaved, there is no reason why it can’t be an ESA.
However, if you hope to live with your ESA, you should be reasonable about its species and size. Although landlords should make reasonable accommodations for ESAs, it isn’t fair to expect to live with a horse or an exotic animal in an apartment building. On the other hand, it is reasonable to expect to live with your emotional support cat, even if the landlord usually has a “no pets” policy or typically charges a pet fee.
A legitimate ESA letter that you can present to your landlord will ensure you can live with your ESA and avoid any pet fees or pet deposits.
What Are the Most Popular ESA Cat Breeds?
Cats have a very long history of companionship with humans. Archaeological evidence suggests that domesticated cats and humans have lived together for around 4,000 years. With such an ancient history of feline-human interaction, it isn’t surprising that many people choose cats as emotional support animals.
Some of the most popular breeds of emotional support cats include:
- Maine Coon
- Russian Blue
- American Shorthair
FAQs: Getting An Emotional Support Letter Online
Is It Difficult To Get An Emotional Support Animal Letter?
Getting an emotional support letter online is surprisingly straightforward, but you will want to choose a reputable provider and avoid scams. Regardless of which provider you choose, you will need to meet with a licensed mental health professional, either online or in person, who will conduct a mental health evaluation and assess your need for an emotional support animal.
Can I Use My ESA Letter When I Move Into My Apartment?
Thanks to the Fair Housing Act, once you have an ESA letter, you can live with your emotional support animal, even in rented housing. The FHA ensures that housing providers cannot discriminate against people who need an ESA. Once you get an official ESA letter, you should speak with your landlord about bringing your emotional support cat to live with you in your apartment.
Can I Get An ESA in Any State?
You should be able to live with your ESA in any state, and your ESA letter should apply all across the country. The Fair Housing Act covers ESA letters for housing in every state. This includes rentals, co-ops, and condominiums.