While most people have emotional support dogs, emotional support animals can actually be members of any species. Cats are the second most common type of ESA, and many people with emotional or mental health issues rely on their feline friends for comfort and to minimize the symptoms of their disorder. If you have a cat for an ESA, you might be wondering if you should invest in an ESA vest, as well as wondering where such a vest might be required. Keep reading to learn more.
Not Required by Law
First and foremost, as an ESA owner, it's important that you're aware of your rights. It isn't required by law for your ESA-be it a dog, cat, or any other animal-to wear a vest indicating that they are an emotional support animal. Whether your ESA is in your home or on a plane with you, vests aren't required for you to claim the benefits of owning an ESA. So, if someone has given you the impression that you're legally required to get an ESA vest for your cat, please be aware that this isn't true.
With that being said, having an ESA vest for your cat has many practical benefits. The largest benefit is that it very quickly and clearly indicates that your cat serves a specific purpose and that they're much more than a pet to you. As mentioned earlier, dogs are the most common type of ESA, as well as almost exclusively fulfilling the role of service animal for those who require such assistance; this means that people are much more likely to accept a dog as an ESA without a visual indicator.
However, cats are less common, and they almost never serve as service animals. Because of this, most people view cats only as pets and don't realize that cats can even be ESAs. When you put that ESA vest on your cat, you're making it very clear to everyone around you that your cat isn't just a pet. This can make things much easier when you're traveling and may decrease the amount of pushback you experience when claiming your benefits as an ESA owner.
Using an ESA Cat Vest
It's no secret that most cats don't much appreciate being dressed up or restrained in any way. So if you're planning on purchasing an ESA vest for your cat, it's important that you give them time to adjust to wearing it before you attempt to take them anywhere with it on.
First, a proper fit will make the vest more comfortable for your cat and make it less likely that they'll manage to slip out of it. This means you need to properly measure your kitty before purchasing a vest for them. You'll need to measure around the thickest part of your cat's torso using a measuring tape and measure the circumference of their neck. This should give you enough information to purchase an appropriately sized vest.
You'll also want to purchase a vest made of a comfortable fabric. A cotton or polyester fabric is usually lightweight and breathable enough that it won't bother your cat even in hot weather. And, as long as it's appropriately sized and put on correctly, it won't rub or irritate them either. Allow your cat to wear their new vest several times and ensure they're comfortable in it before trying to travel with them wearing it.
If you're looking for ESA vests for your cat, be sure to check out the different styles the National Service Animal Registry has available online.