Emotional support animals, or ESAs, have substantially increased in numbers over the years leading to more and more animals being allowed in places they were previously not permitted. This has been a huge progression, leading to substantial improvements in the lives of individuals who need an ESA to function properly throughout their daily routines. Additionally, these animals no longer include just dogs; since many people have severe allergies to dogs, making it impossible for them to have an ESA in the past. Now, people can find comfort and support from a variety of animals, including cats, hamsters, and more, making it easier than ever to have an ESA. While emotional support cats are not quite as common, they still provide a great service for their owners and must follow the same rules and regulations as dogs.
Air Travel with An Emotional Support Cat
At first thought, air travel with a cat sounds terrifying and complicated – something no man or woman would ever want to attempt, but air travel is possible with an emotional support cat on many airlines, provided you present the appropriate documentation. Additionally, it is important to get your emotional support cat ready for the flight. Flight preparation is crucial for you, but it is especially important your cat if you want them to behave appropriately during the entire process. Fortunately, this article will help you get ready with tips on what to bring, what to provide to the airline ahead of time, and how to prepare your cat for the experience. These tips are sure to make the flight with your friendly feline as relaxed and enjoyable as possible.
What Should I Do to Coordinate with the Airline Prior to My Trip?
Even though flying with emotional support cats has become quite common and is allowed on most flights, it is still important to check with the airline you plan on traveling with, as they may have certain rules and regulations you must follow. For instance, they may require identification, the medical approval from a licensed psychiatrist, therapist, or other mental health professionals, or health certificates to confirm the animal is a service or support animal. They may also require you to fill out certain paperwork that must be presented before your flight.
Take Frontier Airlines for example; they require that you fill out two forms available on their website when traveling with an ESA. One is an Animal Behavior Acknowledgement that declares that you have properly prepared your animal for the flight, and he/she is trained well enough that they will not become a disturbance or act aggressively towards other passengers, which could result in the airline rejecting both you and your emotional support cat. The other is a Medical/Mental Health Professional Information document, which verifies by your medical or mental health professional that you do have a need for your emotional support cat. These documents are due at least 48 hours before your trip and must be updated every year for you to travel with your ESA. Documents like these are not uncommon amongst airlines, so it is important to check with them at the time you book your flight (or before, if you’re one of those people that plans ahead) to verify if they require any other documents besides a signed letter or any other proof that you are traveling with a real ESA. Airlines and certain countries (if you are traveling internationally) may also require you to fill out a health certificate that verifies that your pet is healthy and vaccinated for the protection of others. Typically, this form is due at least 10 days in advance, so it is important to plan ahead.
The type of documentation required may differ from airline to airline, but each airline has information on their websites or representatives available to help you figure out exactly what is required. Many airlines also have additional requirements, such as notifying the airline that your ESA is traveling with you at least 48 hours in advance. Otherwise, you may be denied service or forced to pay an additional pet fee, per their pet policy guidelines since your ESA will instead be considered a pet and not an emotional support animal. By following the proper guidelines, bringing your emotional support cat is often free on most airlines. So, save money by simply following rules!
Traveling with An Emotional Support Animal vs. Service Animal
Traveling with an emotional support animal differs slightly from traveling with a service animal, so you may get asked additional questions from the airline or gate agent. Documenting your needs and clearly stating why you are traveling with an emotional support pet can make these interactions go smoother. Also, notifying the airline ahead of time allows them to properly prepare for you and your emotional support cat. You do not always need to detail your mental health issues but stating what you need for a safe and comfortable flight can go a long way.
Another option is to list your cat with a company that registers service and emotional support animals. These companies can provide photo identification as well as patches to indicate your cat is a working emotional support animal. US Support Animals is a fantastic resource if you are looking for more information regarding emotional support animals or want more information on traveling with your ESA. They enable you to register your cat, can help with obtaining notes from doctors and other mental health professionals, and even have identifying vests. Using a service such as this also provides you with additional resources and protection should you ever need legal assistance in service animal-related issues. Proper documentation and support from USSA can definitely help the skies feel a lot friendlier again when traveling with an ESA.
How to Prepare Your Emotional Support Cat for the Flight
You might be ready for the flight, but is your furry friend? Don’t forget to get them ready for the experience; oftentimes, all the loud noises, bustling around, and stimuli can be overwhelming for them, which is why it’s important to do your best to get them accustomed to the situation.
Start by purchasing a crate that is approved by airlines, and try and get your cat used to it beforehand. You want the crate to be familiar to them. This will help them feel more comfortable when you depart for your flight, as they will be used to the immediate space around them. You can further perpetuate their comfort by placing a favorite blanket and/or some toys in their crate. This should be done a few weeks in advance to ensure they have properly acclimated to the crate.
Schedule a vet appointment no less than two weeks prior to your flight. A trip can be a grueling feat on your cat, especially if they are in poor health. Your vet will check to make sure they are in good health to ensure the experience is minimally taxing on your cat. They will also make sure your cat is up to date on any required vaccinations needed for the flight and/or destination, and they will fill out any health certificates that the airline or country you’re visiting (if you are traveling internationally) requires.
Other things to help prepare your cat for the flight include getting them used to loud noises and traveling in their crate. Exposing them to loud noises similar to what they will hear on a flight is quite easy nowadays with tools like YouTube. Try searching titles like “Airport Noises” and play it for a few minutes every day up to a few days before the flight. Also, take your cat on car rides in their crate to get them used to the feeling of moving while in their crate. A few minutes of preparation each day will do wonders for your cat’s comfortability during flight.
The Perks of Registering Your Cat as an ESA with Us
Besides protecting yourself legally while traveling from being refused the right to travel with your emotional support cat, registering your cat as an ESA has other benefits, such as with the workforce, housing, and bringing your cat to common places, such as restaurants and stores, but it’s also important to choose the right registry. By registering your animal with us, you can look forward to the following perks:
- You will receive both a card and certificate to protect your rights as an ESA owner in nearly any scenario. The certificate acts as an official document that confirms your animal is registered as an ESA in our database and contains all the necessary information, such as the date of issuance and the animal’s name.
- You and your animal will be included in the largest online database of U.S. service animals.
- We supply numerous resources to help you secure a support animal; this includes a variety of things, such as a licensed medical professional, should you need an official letter for a landlord or airport.
- You can get $60 off your consultation with any medical professional in our network when you seek out an official letter for your housing or travel if you register your animal with us.
- Registering your animal allows you to also carry all the necessary equipment and accessories needed for your animal; this includes items such as a leash, collar, tag, vest, crate, and so on.
- We can help connect you to our on-staff attorneys who are there to protect your rights as an ESA owner.
- You gain access to our ESA kits and products.
With so many perks, you might be wondering why you didn’t register your cat as an emotional support animal sooner!
Other Useful Background Info You Should Know
ESA owners find trouble everywhere nowadays, it seems. From legal issues with landlords to being rejected transportation or forced to pay an additional fee by bus lines and airlines, we want to do as much as we can to help you legally. That’s why we are devoted to educating ESA owners of their rights the best that we can, in order to protect you, allowing you to enjoy life with your ESA.
Fair Housing Act: Are you planning to register your ESA to move into a new living space? Great! We want you to be aware of the Fair Housing Act. Under this act, landlords are required to permit the resident to keep any animal that provides a benefit to persons with disabilities, including emotional and psychological, even if they otherwise restrict animals on the premises. Your task is to only register your ESA and procure a letter confirming its role in your treatment from a licensed medical professional. At, U.S. Service Animal and Support Animal Registry, we are here to help you with every step of the process.
Air Carrier Access Act: This act prohibits carriers from practicing discrimination in public air travel, whether domestic or international, as it pertains to persons with physical or mental impairments.
American Disabilities Act: The ADA requires entities that providing public goods or services to provide “reasonable accommodations” to persons with disabilities in order to satisfy the provider’s regulations, procedures, rules, and policies. The American Disabilities Act extends from government agencies to private enterprise and non-profit organizations.
Your Privacy: We care about your privacy and want to help you protect it. No person or business is allowed to invade your privacy by asking about your disability or requiring medical documentation, a special identification card, training documentation (in the case of a service dog, for instance), or a demonstration of your ESA’s service to you (i.e., perform a task). You should never be required to disclose any details about your disability. While boarding a flight or applying for housing, however, the proprietors and agents will have access to the basic information provided on your emotional service animal’s ID card and in your letter from a licensed medical practitioner.
Disruptive Presence: While you have the right to live and travel with your emotional support animal if your ESA escapes your control to the extent of disrupting others, proprietors or their staff members can request your animal be removed from the premises. Therefore, all service animals must be either harnessed, leashed, tethered, or confined to a carrying container while in public places, unless such containment interferes with the animal’s task or role as it pertains to the disabled person, including the emotionally and psychologically disabled.
Lastly, we want you to beware of scams. Just like any other industry or company, there are imposters everywhere. Therefore, if you have any questions about anyone acting or pretending to conduct business on our behalf or have your suspicions regarding any questions or actions of any person claiming to be a service animal authority, don’t hesitate to contact us. We, at U.S. Service Animals, are here to protect, help, and support both you and your ESA.