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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
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Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - February 18th 2017, 05:36 AM

Hellooo.

So, I'll (hopefully) be moving into a college dorm this fall, and the university allows emotional support animals, with restrictions, of course. It can't go to class, it can't be unaccomodating to a roommate, it can't be too large or messy, etc. I want a cat. Sold. If I get an ESA, it'll be a cat. I have anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and I believe I could benefit greatly from this. I believe my therapist and psychiatrist would agree. I know there's controversy around ESAs, people getting fake certifications, treating them like service animals when they're not, and whatnot. I know better. I have no intentions of abusing the system. I want a cat to cuddle with me, keep me grounded, keep me motivated (I have to get up and get you food, I have to go to work so I can have money to take care of you) and keep me company. So I don't think there are any downsides or reasons why I shouldn't/don't need one.

I would like to know what anyone's experiences are with ESAs, not just cats, but preferably. Just tell me all about it. What was the (US) registration/certification process? What are the best breeds to own as far as, like, not super vocal or intelligent/easily bored, calm, loving, etc. I know that these qualities are never guaranteed in a specific breed, but I hope it's clear what I mean. Hypoallergenic is a plus.

Also, this wouldn't be the first time I'd be owning a cat, but the first time I'd be independently owning/taking care of one. I know there will be many things I have to put in place before I even think about getting one, like, can my roommate dig it, do I have the money for food and litter and toys and the vet, will my class schedule keep me away too long, is there enough space, etc. I'll be adopting, and I'm gonna try to find one already fixed. So, I'm not CLUELESS or anything, but if there's anything you think a 'first-time' cat owner should know, please tell me.

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Re: Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - February 18th 2017, 08:32 PM

Hi!

I currently live in a dorm, and a girl down the hall moved in with a new emotional support animal just over winter break. I hope I can answer a few of your questions. I don't know much about the individual breeds of cats or what types are more hypoallergenic but I think those are all great things to think about when choosing an animal for a support animal for college. I think you're on the right track with that!

In regards to your roommate and space, a lot of times the college will work with you. Since you haven't already moved in, I feel like it could be a little easier for you as you won't have to make changes to where you live or fix around your schedule to accommodate. With the student living in my current dorm, she was moved to a dorm with bigger rooms, but less people. This not only helps her, but also her animal and their schedule and help them both feel more comfortable. I would think you would just need to work with the student life office at the school you plan on going to to make sure you follow all the rules and are able to get all the paperwork and necessary logistic things filled out. With your schedule, I feel like college schedules are very flexible. You can often times take a wide variety of classes at different times ranging from early in the morning to later at night. As a freshman, it might be harder to get the specific classes and times you want, but I don't think it should be a problem with having a cat. Cats are really good at not having people around 24/7 in my experience. I don't think your class schedule will disrupt that at all.

I've owned cats for a while, so making sure you get one fixed or neutered is a must, as it keeps down on overpopulation of cats and helps your cat live longer. Cats are also super different there are so many types of breeds, ones that shed a lot ones that don't, ones that require a lot of upkeep and ones that don't. Just do your homework before you choose a cat and make sure that you're up for the commitment of taking care of living animal. Your college will probably have certain guidelines you have to follow as well like you said in regards to the size and what types of vaccinations it needs to have, so make sure you look into that as well.

With which breeds on personality, I really have no clue. I've had various different experiences with personalities in cats. Some of them can be super loving and some of them are like don't touch me unless it's my idea kind of thing. My advice is just to look at them, figure out what you need and find the one you think you have a connection with. My cat can be a rotten little monster, but I love her for it. If that makes any sense.

I hope this helps!


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Re: Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - March 2nd 2017, 10:31 PM

Hey,

I think this is a really good idea. I don't have any personal experience with ESAs (and even if I did it wouldn't help you much as our systems are very different), although my friend's former roommate did have a kitten for emotional support. The main point I gathered from that experience was to coordinate and cooperate with your roommate/s so that the cat doesn't cause any problems and that everyone is on the same page regarding how to care for it and behave around the animal.

As far as breeds go, the one that comes to mind immediately is the Ragdoll. They got their name because of their tendency to be very docile and easy to handle, and they also tend to be quite affectionate and placid. They're gorgeous cats, by nature and aesthetically speaking, and I think their temperament is pretty close to what you're looking for. In terms of what not to get, I'd steer clear of the Siamese and related breeds (Tonkinese, Balinese, etc), as these guys are infamously vocal and can be prone to loneliness. If you're looking for low allergy cats, then the obvious choice is the Sphynx, although they're definitely not to everyone's liking. Other breeds could include things like the Cornish Rex or Devon Rex, or the Siberian, as I've heard that they tend to be less likely to exacerbate allergies. That said, everyone is different and people have different tolerances, so if your concern is allergies then the only way to know for sure which breed/s or cat/s will set it off is to be exposed to them.

Out of curiosity, are you planning on adopting a kitten or an adult cat? The latter might be safer, as that way you know exactly the temperament you're going to get rather than guessing how the kitten will mature and which personality traits they'll retain. Other things to keep in mind are the expected lifespan of a cat - chances are you'll still have said cat once you've finished your course, so are you prepared to take the cat with you when you move out of the dorms? What if you decide to move interstate or want to travel overseas? I'm sure you've already thought about all of this, it's just worth mentioning anyway because having a cat is a very lengthy (but, of course, worthwhile) commitment.

Anywho, I hope some of this was at least mildly helpful, and please keep us updated as to how it all goes. Good luck!


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Re: Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - March 3rd 2017, 03:50 PM

I found that my pet cat was weirdly helpful at times so I could certainly see it helping you
   
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Re: Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - March 3rd 2017, 04:43 PM

I wouldn't suggest a tabby. Our vet said they're very vocal compared to other breeds. I love mine to death, but he never shuts up! Also, keep the food and water and the litter box as far apart as possible, and if you're worried about allergies, stick to short-haired breeds.


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Re: Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - March 3rd 2017, 09:37 PM

Does it have to be an ESA though? I know some schools allow people to have pets in the dorm (not in my country but whatever, I'll assume you're American).

I only ask because I have a hard time imagining how a cat would qualify. Theyre usually dogs because they're pack animals and are much more dependent on their people and thus are better in a therapeutic way. Now personally I know cats are good for emotional support, I love having my cats, and it might be less of a hassle to just get a car and not worry about having it be certified or whatever.

My cats are Siamese and they're lovely. They're super into humans and love being around me, they follow me around the house, cuddle tons, and just generally wanna chill with humanity. So... breed recommendation..




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Re: Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - March 5th 2017, 11:49 PM

I find this helped me through depression a few years ago my cat is my rock.
   
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Re: Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - March 6th 2017, 02:57 PM

I have three cats. Ruffio is a tabby. My baby. Really vocal when he wants to be Tequila is a tortoise shell and she loves to be with me when I'm sleeping or watching tv. Amaroo is the good ol domestic grey and white. Likes to be by herself.

I highly recommend Siamese or Burmese or Maine Coons or British Shorthair.


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Re: Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - March 7th 2017, 12:20 PM

I'd 100% recommend a Burmese we got two when I was going through a really tough patch and they've been amazing. One of them is a clown who makes you laugh and that he other would cuddle you all day. When I was about 15 I'd had a really bad day and one of our cats ran and jumped into my arms purring. I would recommend getting one that's around a year old as they're pretty much grown out of the climbing up curtain stage x


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Re: Emotional support cats + what to know about owning a cat - March 12th 2017, 09:39 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kate* View Post
I wouldn't suggest a tabby. Our vet said they're very vocal compared to other breeds. I love mine to death, but he never shuts up! Also, keep the food and water and the litter box as far apart as possible, and if you're worried about allergies, stick to short-haired breeds.
Just a quick note: tabby is a colour, not a breed. Lots of breeds have a tabby colour variation, and I've never heard that tabbies tend to be more vocal - although I suppose that's entirely possible. The point about litter trays and food is very important; make sure your cat has designated places to sleep/eat that are far away from where it does its business.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Always * View Post
Does it have to be an ESA though? I know some schools allow people to have pets in the dorm (not in my country but whatever, I'll assume you're American).

I only ask because I have a hard time imagining how a cat would qualify. Theyre usually dogs because they're pack animals and are much more dependent on their people and thus are better in a therapeutic way. Now personally I know cats are good for emotional support, I love having my cats, and it might be less of a hassle to just get a car and not worry about having it be certified or whatever.
ESAs don't require any specialised training, so they can be just about any animal (although they're mostly cats and dogs, which are the most popular pets anyway). The only requirement for an animal to be an ESA is that it has to provide some kind of therapeutic benefit to the owner, which cats are more than capable of doing. They don't need to perform specific tasks or behave in a certain way, they just have to be present - and they're more protected under law than regular pets are, in that they might be allowed in more places (e.g. landlords can't discriminate against them), which in itself is beneficial. Cats can provide a lot of benefits, as the OP said - having the responsibility can be a motivating thing, and having a cat nearby that you can pat or hug can be incredibly calming and grounding. It's more about the owner than the animal, and the main requirement (in the US at least) is that a medical or mental health professional has to verify that having the animal will help the person with whatever issue they're coping with. So, cats are more than qualified.


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