In this article, I’m going to answer the question of where you can take an emotional support cat.
Qualifying your cat as an emotional support animal (ESA) with a licensed mental health practitioner can help a person get into accommodation. This includes rental accommodation, campus, and Airbnb.
Emotional support cats are not allowed to travel via a flight. This law came into place in January 2021.
Service Animals (e.g. guide dogs) perform specific roles to a person relating to medical conditions. Trained to perform roles, these animals have different rights as opposed to an ESA. Access to public locations is the key differentiation between a service animal and a cat registered as an ESA.
My name is Derrick, and I the founder of Simply Cat Care, a website dedicated to understanding and caring for your cat. I compiled this article to help you understand your rights with your cat registered as an ESA.
In this article, I will be going over the following questions.
Let’s get into the article.
What is an emotional support cat?
An emotional support cat is registered as an ESA.
For a cat to qualify as an ESA, you need to go through an application process through a mental health specialist. It needs to be deemed that you have a condition that would benefit from an ESA.
You can get started with the process by going here to start an application.
What accommodation allows an emotional support cat?
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) if a person has a mental or physical disability that impairs one or more life activities, they need to ensure reasonable accommodation for the person.
An emotional support cat qualifies as a companion animal, and not a pet.
For this reason, the restrictions on accommodation will differ and a landlord will allow the person to take their cat with them without fees.
For example, housing providers cannot ask for a ‘pet deposit’ since an ESA is not considered a pet for legal purposes.
Based on the FHA, campus accommodation is a ‘dwelling’ for legal purposes.
Campuses need to make reasonable access to people with disabilities, whether that’s physical (e.g. wheelchair access) or mental (e.g. having an emotional support cat).
Hotels are not considered ‘dwellings’ under the FHA.
For this reason, hotels don’t allow you to take an emotional support cat with you.
Some hotels can make exceptions. It would be worth searching for ‘pet-friendly’ hotels to see if there are any availabilities.
Under Airbnb’s discrimination policy, emotional support cats can access accommodation with you. An Airbnb host can’t refuse access to an emotional support cat.
If you are the victim of discrimination you can flag the host. To do this, check the Airbnb website for more details on the flagging process.
Hosts are also not allowed to ask for a ‘pet fee’.
However, if the pet causes damage to the property, you need to pay repair costs. For this reason, it is up to the owner to ensure their cat is reasonably trained to not cause damage.
Can I take my emotional support cat on a flight with me?
As of January 2021, airlines do not allow emotional support cats to travel with their owners during a flight based on changes to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).
On the other hand, a dog registered as a psychiatric service dog (PSD) has access to flights.
Based on various reports, emotional support animals caused excessive misbehavior disturbances. Training is not a requirement for an ESA.
Since an ESA does not need training, the stress of flying may have led to the issues raised. Airplane cabins transport cats, which can be a source of stress or discomfort for an animal.
Can I take my emotional support cat to a restaurant?
In general, an emotional support cat is not allowed into a restaurant.
Public establishments, such as restaurants, do not need to allow access to an ESA.
The exception is a ‘service animal’ such as a guide dog. They are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
However, some restaurants can have a ‘pet-friendly’ policy that allows animals.
As well as a restaurant, similar establishments will have the same restrictions.
For example, a visit to Walmart, Target, or the latest clothing outlet is not allowed.
Can I take my emotional support cat to my workplace?
In general, most workplaces will have a policy that doesn’t allow cats or other emotional support animals. As with restaurants, a service animal is legally allowed access due to the ADA.
Workplace accommodations should be discussed with management.
Can I take my emotional cat on an Uber car ride?
Uber drivers can make their own decision in this situation.
If the driver does not want to do the trip, they don’t have to. If they want to interact with your emotional support cat, they need to ask for permission.
How do the laws apply outside the US?’
The information covered in this post applies to US laws.
For example, in Australia, only dogs are able to provide some level of emotional support (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder).
Ensure to check your local regulations in order to understand your rights.
In this article, I covered where you can take your emotional support cat.
You can take an emotional support cat to rental accommodation and dwellings, such as college accommodation due to FHA laws.
Airbnb’s allow emotional support cats access to accommodation. This is due to their discrimination policy.
Hotels usually do not provide access. Hotels aren’t regarded as dwellings for legal purposes and don’t need to provide accommodation to ESA’s.
On the other hand, ESA isn’t usually allowed access to public establishments or workplaces. Recent changes in laws have prohibited traveling by airplane with an emotional support cat.
Looking for more information on emotional support cats?
Check out this guide on how to find the right cat for you and your family.