Registering a Cat as an Emotional Support Animal

By Pamela Miller

With their soft purrs and playful nature, it's no secret that cats can provide a calming presence to people in times of need. Emotional support animals are registered to provide emotional support to individuals who suffer with a mental or emotional illness. This special designation allows the person to live with the animal even in a dwelling that may not normally allow pets.

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals don't need special training or skills to be registered as one. An emotional support cat or dog is seen as a "reasonable accommodation" for the person suffering with the illness. The emotional support animal may help the individual to better cope with the symptoms of their mental illness, some of which are considered disabilities by the Social Security Administration.

Benefits to Registering Your Cat

Sometimes animals can provide a sense of comfort that humans simply aren't able to provide. The presence of an animal provides soothing where no words are required. If your cat has special traits that could make her an emotional support animal, she potentially could touch the life of an individual needing her support, or perhaps she provides emotional or mental support to an individual already. Simply sitting by a child or adult who has experienced a traumatic event and letting them pet her can be a welcome comfort to people.

Once the cat is registered, the individual will be able to live with their cat even in buildings where the landlord doesn't normally allow cats. A person cannot be denied housing because they have an emotional support animal. Denying the individual the right to live there or rejecting a rental application on the basis of the emotional support animal would qualify as discrimination. However, emotional support animals typically don't have access to accompany the individual to public places where animals aren't normally permitted, as service animals do. They do, however, have access to ride in the cabin of an airplane with the person who registered them as their emotional support animal.

Emotional Support Cat Traits

An emotional support cat provides comfort to the individual in need and may have formed a special bond with the individual over time. Their role differs from that of a service animal who is typically trained to perform certain tasks. The main "job" of the emotional support animal is to provide emotional comfort and support to an individual with a mental or emotional disability, which must be documented by a physician. Emotional support animals must be calm enough not to cause problems in public, and they must also not cause trouble in or around their home setting.

Documents You Will Need

Secure documentation from a mental health professional or physician. The note must state:

  • The mental illness or disability.
  • What emotional support the animal will provide.
  • The name, phone number, address and professional license number of the medical professional, all on professional letterhead.

An emotional support animal may be helpful when dealing with a number of mental illnesses and disabilities including:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Autism.
  • Panic disorder.
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Clinical depression.

Once you are certain that your pet is manageable in public places, you can register your emotional support animal through the National Service Animal Registry. They will send a registration kit will all necessary paperwork to be filled out and mailed back. Once complete, the cat will be entered into the National Service Animal Registry database. A certificate stating that the cat is an emotional support animal will be mailed to the address on the registration along with two photo IDs that will identify the kitty as an emotional support animal.