Fact checked

How to Register a Cat as an Emotional Support Animal: A Complete Guide

While qualification and a diagnosis from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) is required to receive an emotional support animal for a cat or any other animal, there is no official registry for ESAs. Your emotional support animal is considered legally legitimate so long as your ESA letter has been provided by an LMPH.

Susana Bradford
March 14, 2024
April 21, 2023
8 minute read
Updated By
Grant Fiddes
January 26, 2024
Expert Reviewed By:
Marvy BeckmanMarvy Beckman
Sunstar Clinical
April 21, 2023
August 18, 2021
8 minute read
January 26, 2024
 Read this blog to learn the steps on how you can register your cat as an emotional support animal or ESA. Contact Pettable for more information.

In recent years, emotional support animals (ESAs) have become increasingly popular. These animals provide companionship and comfort to their owners, and they have been shown to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. While most people think of dogs when they think of emotional support animals, cats can also make excellent companions.

Cats are typically lower maintenance compared to dogs, and they can be easily trained to perform basic tricks or tasks. In addition, cats are known for their calming effect, and they can provide valuable emotional support during times of stress. A cat is a fantastic option, whether you're looking for a furry friend to cuddle with or a four-legged companion to help you through tough times. Let’s learn how to register an emotional support cat.

How to Register a Cat as an Emotional Support Cat

To register your cat as an emotional support animal, follow these steps:

  1. Obtain an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.
  2. Check your local regulations for specific requirements.
  3. Notify your housing provider about your ESA.
  4. Learn about air travel rules if you plan to fly with your cat.

Remember, genuine need is key for a successful registration.

Can Cats Be Emotional Support Animals?

Feline friends, rejoice — cats are among the many types of animals that can be ESAs. Unlike service animals, which are usually dogs, any domesticated animal can become an emotional support critter, just as long as they provide their owner with care and comfort that alleviates mental health struggles. In addition to dogs and cats, these animals and more qualify for ESA status: 

  • Rabbits
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Birds
  • Hedgehogs
  • Domesticated Rats and Mice
  • Minipigs
  • Mini Horses
  • Ponies
  • Ferrets
  • Chickens
  • Snakes

Even the rarest of domesticated pets could qualify as your ESA as long as they don’t pose a threat to others and are properly handled by their humans.

An emotional support cat comforting their owner.

How Do You Qualify for an Emotional Support Cat?

ESAs provide companionship and emotional support to people with anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions. Unlike service animals trained to perform specific tasks for their owners, ESAs do not require any special training. In most cases, all you need to qualify for an emotional support cat is a letter from a mental health professional indicating that the animal would be beneficial for your mental health.

While there are some exceptions, most landlords will accept this letter as proof that your cat is an ESA. As a result, emotional support cats can provide much-needed companionship and support to people with mental health conditions. Qualified conditions include:

What Do Emotional Support Cats Do?

Emotional support cats provide companionship and emotional comfort to their owners. They are typically brought into the home by people who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders. While emotional support cats are not service animals, they can provide much-needed companionship and love.

Emotional support cats typically have calm temperaments and enjoy cuddling and being petted. They may also help their owner to feel less anxious and stressed. In some cases, emotional support cats can even provide therapeutic benefits, such as reducing blood pressure or improving sleep quality. 

If you consider getting an emotional support cat, be sure to do your research to find a breed that will be a good fit for your lifestyle and personality.

An emotional support cat with an elderly woman.

Where Are Emotional Support Cats Allowed to Go?

Unlike service dogs, ESAs are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so they don’t have as many protections as far as where they are allowed to go. Although service dogs can accompany their owners in restaurants, stores, and medical facilities, ESAs —including cats— are not afforded such privileges. And while the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) doesn’t guarantee that you can travel together, some airlines have their own rules and may allow your ESA to travel with you.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA)

However, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) ensures that landlords can’t discriminate against anyone for their disability and must accommodate ESAs and their owners. They are also not allowed to ask for excessive information about your disability or make spurious claims against your disorder. Once you provide them with a copy of your official ESA letter, they are required to honor your reasonable request for accommodation.

However, to keep your ESA at your rented home, you have to keep it friendly and under your control; you can be denied housing if the animal poses a threat to other tenants and community members. Show your landlord a copy of your ESA letter, and you should have no problem bringing your ESA home with you.

Do You Need to Register Your Cat as an Emotional Support Animal?

Despite what some companies may try to convince you, you don’t have to register your ESA. There is no formal process for certifying or registering an emotional support animal, and there are no specific requirements for what types of animals can qualify. However, you should have an official ESA letter, written and signed by a health professional, to ensure your housing needs are properly met. Also, your emotional support cat should be friendly with other humans and pets to avoid any potential conflicts. You should also make sure that your cat is up to date on all vaccinations and has regular vet visits.

What is an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is essentially an ESA certification from a licensed mental health professional that you have a qualifying mental or emotional health disorder that is benefitted by the presence of your emotional support cat. With an ESA letter, you’re automatically protected by the FHA and should have no problem keeping the animal in your rental property, even if it has a standard “no pet” policy. The letter is essentially a prescription — and your cat is the medicine.

An example graphic of an ESA letter with he clinicians license information listed.
An example of what a legitimate ESA letter should look like.

How to Get an ESA Letter for Your Cat

So, how do you get an ESA letter? Well, if you suffer from anxiety, depression, or another mental health condition, you probably qualify for an emotional support animal. An ESA can provide companionship and boost your mood, but there are a few steps you need to take before you can bring one home. You can trust Pettable to guide you through the process and leave you completely satisfied.

Complete Our Assessment

First, you'll need to complete our quick and easy ESA assessment to help us evaluate your situation and emotional pet support needs. Expect that despite the immediate process, this will be a comprehensive evaluation. Next, you'll have to select the emotional support animal letter type depending on your purpose for getting one (housing, travel, or a combination). 

Consult With a Therapist

You will be asked to fill out some privacy and consent forms that authorize our clinicians or therapists to work with you. We will find a licensed mental health professional that matches your case and send a link where you can book a live consultation with them. During the call, you'll get to meet the therapist and complete a mental health evaluation. This evaluation will determine if you qualify for an ESA. 

Get an Emotional Support Cat Letter

Once our licensed mental health professional determines that an emotional support animal is essential to your care and well-being, they'll write a legally recognized emotional support animal letter for you. You will be given the option to get an ESA letter within 24 hours from the time of your consultation. Note that this doesn't apply to California residents. 

Once you have your letter, you can start looking for the perfect furry friend. When choosing an ESA, selecting an animal that is easily trained and well-suited to living in close quarters with humans is essential. After bringing your new pet home, you need to do a few more things to make sure they are officially recognized as an ESA.

You will need to document them with your landlord and update your homeowner's insurance policy. Following these steps will help ensure that you and your ESA can live happily together.

Because your satisfaction is crucial, Pettable offers a 100% money-back guarantee if your ESA letter is rejected. If the ESA letter does not work, you can contact us for a full refund.

Did You Know?

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are exempt from pet rent, deposits, and fees with a valid ESA letter. Find out more

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Emotional Support Cats

With cats being a less common service animal option, there can be a variety of questions needing answers before proceeding with getting one. Luckily, Pettable is here with the answers needed.

Do Cats Qualify as Emotional Support Animals? 

There is no reason cats cannot also serve as emotional support animals. Cats are loving and affectionate creatures that can provide solace and comfort in times of distress. They are also low maintenance, making them ideal ESAs for busy people.

How Much Does an Emotional Support Cat Cost? 

An emotional support cat can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands depending on the breed. You can get them for less if they come from pet adoption centers.

How Do I Train an Emotional Support Cat?

An emotional support cat doesn’t require any special training to qualify as an ESA. They just need you to provide a loving home and care for them to provide you with the support you need.

Can I Have More Than One Emotional Support Cat? 

There are no rules regarding the maximum number of ESAs you can have. As long as your pets do not violate any state or local laws and you have your ESA letter, you should be fine.

How Do I Pick an Emotional Support Cat?

First, you have to assess your needs. Once you've decided what type of cat is right for you, you can start screening for prospects and get to know them until you're ready to take them home.

Where Can I Get an Emotional Support Cat?

You can either find a reputable breeder or shelter or check out online directories that can help you find your next ESA.

Can I Fly with My Emotional Support Cat?

There are no laws protecting air travel with ESAs and most airlines do not allow you to travel with one. However, some domestic airlines, such as JetBlue, or other international carriers may have their own rules and might allow you to travel with your ESA in the cabin.

Can Cats Be Service Animals?

Simply put, no, cats can’t serve as physical or psychiatric support animals. They are difficult to train to perform tasks, making them less than ideal, and according to the ADA, support animals are limited to dogs and miniature horses.

What is the Best Breed of Emotional Support Cat?

Any breed of cat can be an emotional support cat. The only requirement is that the animal provides you with emotional support that helps relieve your mental health struggles. However, we recommend choosing a well-tempered breed as your feline friend.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.

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