A simple googling of the question will present you with the following answer: “Unfortunately not.” As of right now, the Americans with Disability Act does not recognize cats as service animals, and only certifies dogs. But! Cats are able to be registered as both Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Animals. Read on to learn about the difference…
Service Animals are canines that are trained to help someone with a disability, whether it’s physical, sensory or mental duties. They can be trained to provide assistance during seizures, help a visually impaired person safely cross the street, and retrieve medicine, among other tasks. An Emotional Support Animal (ESA), on the other hand, is an animal certified by an owner’s mental health provider in the form of a letter that qualifies the pet (usually a dog or cat — but could even be a horse or ferret!) as an emotional companion. An Emotional Support Animal does not receive specific training for the certification, but rather is recognized by the therapist as a support for someone with an emotional disability.
In addition, cats can also become Therapy Animals that frequent hospitals, nursing homes and even prisons to provide a dose of cuddly comfort (and oxytocin!) to anyone in need. These cats are trained through organizations such as The Pet Partners Story to walk on a leash, feel comfortable with car rides/transportation and most importantly, enjoy spending time on the laps of strangers. An ideal cat candidate is one with a friendly and calm disposition, over the age of 1. Therapy Animals have become increasingly accepted in hospitals and institutions across the country as mounting evidence grows around the wonderful benefits a warm furry animal can have on just about anyone.
In more recent years, there has been a big push for the public to acknowledge that cats can take on certain tasks and be just as much a support as their furry counterparts. We’re here for that push, and as always, feel that the furry members of the family should always be recognized for their remarkable ability to make us feel better, whether it’s in certification form or not!
Click here to learn more about Emotional Support Animals.
Click here to learn more about Therapy Animals.