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Why Can’t Cats Be Service Animals?

Why Can't Cats Be Service Animals

Why Can’t Cats Be Service Animals: People who are affectionate with cats would see that their pet has so much potential. Some have even trained their feline friend to do certain tasks. So the question that bugs them is if dogs can do service work for humans, why can’t cats be service animals?

Cats can’t be service animals simply because the law doesn’t recognize them as one. Unlike trained dogs, cats can’t pull a wheelchair, guide people who are blind or alert those who have hearing difficulties. Nonetheless, cats can be registered as emotional support animals.

In this article, we’ll discuss if cats can be service animals in the US and what other roles they can play. We’ll also dive into the areas where they can be helpful to emotionally, mentally, and medically challenged individuals, so stick around!

Can Cats Be Service Animals in the US? + Why Can’t Cats Be Service Animals?

No, cats can’t be service animals in the US primarily because they aren’t recognized by ADA requirements. These guidelines specifically indicate that a service animal is a dog or a miniature horse individually trained to work and perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Since cats aren’t generally receptive to training, many believe that they can’t perform the tasks that service dogs do. This doesn’t mean that felines can’t be of any help, though.

In fact, people with medical conditions have claimed that their furry companion has saved their lives many times before. Trained or untrained, a few cats have helped their owners by warning them of medical emergencies. For the record, one cat managed to call 911.

Hence, even if they aren’t legally recognized as service animals, to some pet owners, they already are.

Felines can do wonders, that’s for sure. Since most of them are affectionate, intelligent, and human-oriented, they can be trained to become therapy pets. They, too, can serve as emotional support cats, reducing symptoms of mental disabilities.

Can You Train Cats to Be Emotional Support Animals?

Why Can't Cats Be Service Animals

You can choose to train cats, but unlike service animals, they don’t require specific training to be considered emotional support animals. Cats help their owner by simply being present. Their meows, head nudges, and fuzzy faces improve their owners’ well-being and mental stability.

Now, for your cat to become a legitimate emotional support animal, you’ll have to acquire an ESA letter from a therapist/or a service like us. The therapist will then evaluate your emotional and mental stability.

Once they verify your condition, they’ll grant you a letter prescribing a need for the emotional support cat.

With a registered ESA, you can exercise your right to be with your assistant cat in a no-pet apartment. You won’t be subject to pet deposits, too, as per the Fair Housing Act. Plus, you can bring your emotional support cat with you on a flight under the Air Carrier Access Act.

To enjoy the privileges of bringing emotional support cats in public places, they should behave well and not be a nuisance to others.

It’ll help to socialize your cat while he’s still little. You can also teach him basic obedience rules, such as sitting and staying. These things are possible through positive training methods and will ensure that your feline will behave and obey accordingly.

Can a Cat Be a Service Animal for Anxiety?

Cats can provide comfort and support for people suffering from anxiety. Yet, this doesn’t warrant them to be legally called service animals. Their function is more about giving emotional support.

In other words, living with emotional support cats can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disabilities. Socializing with them can calm one’s nervous system, lower blood pressure, and normalize the heart rate.

Do Cats Help With PTSD?

Why Can't Cats Be Service Animals

There are insufficient studies to support that cats can take away PTSD, but they can definitely ease symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Stroking cats, for instance, leads to a reduced level of cortisol—a stress hormone, in the body. This is vital in alleviating symptoms of PTSD.

On top of that, having a cat that reacts to you and loves you in the most genuine way can promote positive mental health. The unconditional love that a cat provides directs people with PTSD to focus on good things in the present rather than the bitter shadows of the past.

To Wrap Up

Cats are quite beneficial to their human companion as they help relieve their owner’s anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental disabilities. They’re intelligent in nature and can be trained to do certain tasks.

Yet, the reason why cats can’t be service animals is that they’re not recognized by ADA requirements.

They can still be registered as ESA, though. However, for some medically challenged owners who’ve proven their furry buddies to be more than just pets, cats are unsung heroes.

If you liked this blog article about the question: Why Can’t Cats Be Service Animals, don’t forget to leave us a comment down below to tell us about your experience.

Elisa Steffes

Elisa Steffes

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An emotional support animal, or ESA, is an animal companion that provides comfort and support to someone suffering from a mental or emotional disability such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or a phobia. Emotional support animals and their owners have certain protections under federal and state laws. Landlords, Co-Ops, HOAs, and other housing providers must allow tenants to live with their ESAs free of charge, even if the building has a policy banning pets.

To have a valid emotional support animal, you must be in possession of a recommendation letter from a licensed health care professional (sometimes also referred to as a “licensed mental health professional” or “LMHP”). The ESA letter will establish that you have a disability and that an emotional support animal alleviates symptoms of that disability. Under federal law, this is the only legitimate way to qualify an animal companion as an emotional support animal.

A valid ESA letter is the only documentation you need in order to qualify an emotional support animal. Landlords cannot ask for a certificate, registration, license or ID, or insist that your ESA wear a vest. These items do not confer any legal status on emotional support animals. Some ESA owners use such items as tools to signal that their animal companion is an ESA, but they are not mandatory and do not function in lieu of an ESA letter as valid forms of proof for an ESA. There is also no need to register your ESA in a database or registry.

No, ESAs do not have an automatic legal right to be in grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels that prohibit animals. ESA owners have the legal right to be accompanied by their animal companion in their home pursuant to the Fair Housing Act. Only ADA service animals trained to perform tasks (such as seeing-eye dogs for the blind) have public access rights in places like grocery stores and restaurants. Some establishments such as hotels are not obligated by law to accommodate ESAs but will do so anyway as a courtesy. It is best to check with the hotel or other businesses to see if they have a policy regarding emotional support animals.

No, ESAs are not a scam. Regrettably, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding on the internet when it comes to emotional support animals that puts an undeserved cloud over legitimate ESA owners and service companies. Contrary to some myths, there is a developed regulatory framework surrounding emotional support animals in the United States. ESAs are protected by federal laws and government agencies which enforce those laws. There are specific legal requirements that ESA owners must adhere to in order to obtain accommodation under law for their animal companion. Legitimate owners of emotional support animals must have documentation in the form of a recommendation letter from a licensed healthcare provider. Housing providers have the right to demand an ESA letter from the tenant before accommodating an ESA request.

There are also many legitimate emotional support animal services online such as You should proceed with caution with any website that promises that their certification, registration, license or ID will immediately qualify your pet as an emotional support animal. Websites that are not scams will instead connect you to a healthcare professional who is licensed for your state. That professional will conduct an independent assessment of whether an ESA is right for you and issue an ESA letter only if they determine that you qualify. Legitimate ESA companies online cannot guarantee to instantly qualify an emotional support animal, since that determination must come from an independent licensed professional after evaluating the client.


A psychiatric service dog (or PSD) is a type of service dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks relating to a handler’s mental, emotional or learning disability. Psychiatric service dogs have the same rights as other types of service dogs which assist handlers with physical disabilities. Service dogs have special access rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act. They are allowed to accompany their owners in the home, on-flights and in places where members of the public are generally allowed to go.

A psychiatric service dog is not the same thing as an ESA. The primary difference between a psychiatric service dog and an emotional support animal is that a PSD must be fully trained to perform tasks relating to a disability. A PSD in training does not yet qualify as a service dog. In contrast, ESAs are not required to have any specialized training. ESAs primarily provide comfort to their owners just through their presence and companionship. An ESA also requires a letter of recommendation from a licensed healthcare professional.

PSDs and ESAs also differ in terms of their access rights. ESAs have the right to live with their owners free of charge (even in buildings that prohibit pets) under federal Fair Housing laws and various state laws. PSDs have greater access rights under the ADA and ACAA – they can board flights as well as places generally open to the public like stores.

The other major difference between ESAs and PSDs is that an ESA can be a wide range of animals but a psychiatric service animal can only be a dog.

In order to qualify for a PSD, the handler must have a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. That can include things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobias, learning disorders and autism. A licensed healthcare professional is best suited to determine whether you have a qualifying condition.

Under new rules that went into effect in January of 2021, PSDs can board the cabin free of charge as long as the handler submits the Department of Transportation’s Service Animal Transportation Form prior to boarding the flight. The form requires the handler to self-certify that their animal is a trained psychiatric service dog. It also requires information regarding the dog’s trainer (which can be the handler) and veterinarian. Only the handler is required to sign the form.

The ADA allows for service animals to be trained by the handler or through a professional. If the handler is confident and capable of training their psychiatric service dog, they are allowed to do so. It is not necessary to use any organization or professional trainer, although those alternatives may be useful for owners who are not experienced in training dogs.