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Are Cats Able to Work as Service Animals?

service animals
  • 16 June 2017
  • Pet Wants

In recent years, there’s been a lot of interest and confusion in regards to therapy animals, service animals and emotional support animals. Although these terms sound quite similar, they actually have very different meanings. The best way to get a clear understanding of these different classifications is to start with service animals. This term is clearly defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as follows: “(A)ny dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.” This description goes on to say that “other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals.”

Given how clear the ADA is with the definition of service animals, the answer to the question of whether or not cats are able to work as service animals is no. But that doesn’t mean cats are unable to serve similarly important roles. As a company that’s passionate about making amazing cat food, we know from firsthand experience and conversations how much cats can do for the lives of their owners. That’s why we want to share some helpful details about two roles that cats are able to occupy.

Therapy and Emotional Support Animals

One of the reasons the ADA has such a strict definition of service animals is this act is focused on people who are visually impaired, hearing impaired or have mobility issues. While the dogs who become support animals for these individuals are able to do incredible work by going through extensive training and certification, it’s just one example of the positive impact animals can have on humans.

Two roles that cats can fill are being therapy or emotional support animals. Although these positions don’t come with all the rights of service animals, they are recognized positions. The ADA draws the distinction between service animals and these other roles by explaining that “the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship are not considered work or tasks for purposes of the definition of a service animal.”

So, what exactly does a therapy cat do? It’s common practice for therapy cats to help multiple people by visiting them instead of living with one person. This can take the form of animal assisted therapy, facility therapy or therapeutic visitation. For emotional support cats, the best way to think of their role is as a prescription pet for issues like mental health. If someone struggles with a condition like depression or anxiety, a cat can provide significant mental health benefits.

If you have any other questions related to this or any other topic about cats, you can always swing by our store at 2098 Willowick Square to chat!