Cat Tips

Can a Cats be a Service Animal?

Imagine this: You're feeling down, and your emotional support animal is there to lift your spirits. But instead of a dog wagging its tail and offering unconditional love, you get a cat—lounging on the windowsill, giving you a look that says, "You want emotional support? From me? Hilarious." 

This sounds funny because we’ve always thought of cats as aloof. When it comes to pets acting as emotional companions we immediately think of dogs. Probably because the internet and everyone around us has flooded us with stories of how their dog helped with anxiety, depression and other tough times. But are cats really aloof or can they be great companions in tough times? Because it’s not like cat lovers would like to switch to a dog when it comes to emotional support. 

Let’s understand these feline pets more deeply till we get the answers. Before looking for specific answers, it is important to understand the different designations our pets can have when it comes to human companionship.

  • Service Animals – Animals that help differently abled people perform daily tasks.

  • Therapy Animals – Animals that help humans improve their physical, social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.

  • Emotional Support Animals – Animals that provide relief to individuals with psychiatric disability through companionship.

We can now start looking for specific answers regarding our feline buddies.

Can a Cat be a Service Animal for Anxiety?

Siberian Cats

So firstly, a service animal and an animal that helps humans cope with anxiety are completely different. The answer here is hence yes and no. Cats can become ESAs or emotional support animals for people facing anxiety. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) dictates that a service animal must be a dog or miniature horse. (1)

When it comes to service animals, they need to be trained to perform several daily tasks to assist differently-abled people in their day-to-day. Cats are trainable but not as much as dogs when it comes to helping people. A service animal would need to learn how to pull wheelchairs, alert people who are deaf, guide the blind, etc. Cats, unfortunately, cannot be trained for these tasks. 

Can Cats be Emotional Support Animals?

Why Do Cats Knead Their Owners?

The answer to this one is yes, absolutely. We’ve seen people finding emotional support in toys, imaginary friends and whatnot. Cats can become excellent ESAs. Legally, there is no training required as such for an animal to be an ESA. Just being themselves is what helps humans find a companion in them.

You might feel that cats may not be as good as dogs here in interpreting human emotions. But, a study in 2010 found that cats can integrate both visual and auditory signals to interpret human emotions, changing their behavior accordingly based on the emotion(s) that they are detecting.(4) Other studies have also found that cats develop deep bonds with their owners. So next time you’re crying or showing some other obvious signs of sadness, depression or anxiety, your cat will be able to sense it. They will also try to change their behaviors accordingly. 

Covid proved to be a period where these four-legged companions helped millions by providing emotional support. A study in 2020 in the UK found that almost 90% of the 6000 people surveyed who had at least one companion animal during the COVID-19 pandemic described their animals as a source of considerable support. (2)

Cats have helped humans with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and many other mental conditions. There must be a reason why ancient Egyptians treated cats as deities. They used to think of them as magical creatures capable of helping humans overcome many difficulties. 

Can I Have Two ESA Cats?

Can Cats Swim

The answer to this question is also yes. As per the law, for a cat to be registered as an emotional support animal, it must be: (3)

  • Prescribed by a licensed therapist or another mental health professional.

  • Housebroken and not a danger or nuisance to others.

  • Under the owner’s control at all times.

As long as the emotional support animals do not violate the above laws, your request is reasonable, and both you and your licensed mental health professional agree your ESAs provide you with necessary mental or emotional support, you can have one, two, or as many Emotional Support Animals as you need. You can even live with your ESAs irrespective of the landlord’s pet policies. 

Can Cats be Therapy Animals?

Are All Calico Cats Female

The answer is again yes here. Cats can be both, therapy and emotional support animals. Both therapy cats and ESAs help humans with coping with psychological problems. But unlike ESAs, therapy cats are trained, handled by their owners and are part of an individual’s treatment process.

Therapy cats may visit hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and more with their owners to provide comfort and support to patients and residents. Mental health professionals may also use therapy animals in their offices to help clients feel more at ease during sessions.

More About Spot Pet Insurance

Our pets can prove to be magical for us. There are numerous stories of how cats and other animals like dogs have helped humans with mental disorders. In some cases, they’ve even helped them come back from suicidal thoughts. But unfortunately, even these beautiful creatures are prone to several physical and mental illnesses. 

Cats are prone to diseases like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Feline Leukemia Virus, Heartworms, Rabies, etc. Even they can experience mental problems like stress and anxiety. These can turn out to be quite severe at times causing major damage and sometimes even costing them their life. 

With a Spot accident and illness plan, you can take your cat for treatment at any licensed vet in Canada or the U.S. Spot plans don’t have networks, so whether you’re home or traveling within the U.S, veterinary services your cat receives for the diagnosis, treatment, or management of eligible services can be covered. Spot’s accident and illness plans can help cover a variety of conditions, ranging from broken bones and bite wounds to behavioral conditions, and cancer. While base plans do not offer coverage for preventive care services, Spot’s Wellness Riders can be added to any base plan for an additional fee and can help cover the eligible costs of wellness exams, vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more! 

Learn more about cat insurance or get a free quote. 


  1. Shannon, A. (2022, December 28). What’s the difference between a service cat and emotional support cat? | AKC reunite.

  2. Wikipedia contributors. (2024, May 16). Emotional support animal. Wikipedia.

  3. Firm, G. (2023, April 4). Can Cats be Service Animals? - The Goodwin Firm. The Goodwin Firm.

  4. Yelpix. (2023, January 6). Can cats sense depression and anxiety? US Service Animals Blog.

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