Emotional support animals usually come in the form of dogs or cats, due to them being traditional domestic creatures that fit easily into a happy home life. But while ESA dogs may be simple creatures, keen to run after Frisbees and bury bones, ESA cats have some downright bizarre habits, traits and abilities. If you’ve already filled out your ESA dog letter then you’re in for a lifetime of long walks and cozy friendship; but wait! How about the intelligence, quirkiness and sassiness of a cat?
If you’re choosing an emotional support animal for its companionship as well as its ability to soothe your anxiety then and ESA cat may be the way to go, especially if you travel a lot. Getting a Labrador onto a plane can be a feat in itself, but as long as you’ve filled out your emotional support animal registration then you’ll be able to pack your kitty in a travel bag and hop aboard a flight, taking you anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. If you suffer from a fear of flying, ESA cats can make particularly good emotional support animals.
However, it’s definitely best to know a little about your traveling companion, so here are eight facts about cats that you may struggle to believe.
They make great emotional support animals for prisoners
As if we needed any more proof that ESA cats make excellent emotional support animals, they’ve been allowed into prisons as companions for those serving time. The Indiana State Prison allows its inmates to adopt a feline that will then live with them in their cell. This is in order to help the prisoners cope with their living conditions and keep them in an upbeat mood, which can be vital in their rehabilitation process.
Cats have entire cafés dedicated to them
It isn’t enough for some people to have ESA cats in their homes to stroke all day; they need to be sure that there’s a feline to stroke when they go out for coffee. With the craze of cat cafés sweeping Japan (where else?), similar venues have popped up all around Europe, including London’s hipster area of Shoreditch, where customers pay to be surrounded by crawling, napping and meowing cats while they sip their lattes.
Adult ESA cats shouldn’t drink milk
The old concept of putting a saucer of milk out for a cat is apparently only advisable for kittens. Once a cat reaches maturity, it no longer produces lactase, which is the enzyme that digests lactose. This means that it can’t digest milk properly, so you’re going to have to think of another beverage with which to placate your ESA cat when it comes and scratches at your leg.
But they can drink seawater
Yes, you read that correctly; due to their incredibly high-functioning kidneys, cats can drink seawater without damaging their health. Their kidneys filter out the salt and rehydrate their bodies in a way that humans’ kidneys can’t. Another reason to take your ESA cat on a sailing expedition?
Cats spend 70% of their lives sleeping…and another 15% grooming
Ever wondered where the phrase ‘cat nap’ comes from? It isn’t hard to guess, as these lazy creatures will happily snooze from 12 to 16 hours a day. However, of the times that they are not in the land of nod they are cleaning themselves, using mainly their tongue and paws to cool themselves off, encourage circulation and ward off predators by cleansing any odors. And you thought that your sister was vain!
They’re smarter than dogs
Any Disney fan could have told you this one; however, this claim has been backed up by scientists, specifically Psychology Today, who state that, “The brains of cats have an amazing surface folding and a structure that is about 90 percent similar to ours.” With almost double the amount of neurons compared with their canine counterparts (cats = 300 million, dogs = 160 million), this leads us to believe that they are much quicker when processing cognitive information. Of course, intelligence – particularly in the animal world – is subjective, and some dog owners will claim that Fido is much sharper than Mittens but while one animal chases cars and buries their heads in the garden, the other chills out and makes itself look pretty, purring every time that it wants a feed or a scratch. You decide which one has the lion’s share of the brains.
They can hold office
There’s no disputing which animal was the smartest in Talkeetna, Alaska; Stubbs (a cat) has been mayor for over 20 years, ruling the 900-person town with an iron paw in a velvet glove. The mayor takes her role very seriously, bringing in plenty of revenue to the small town via tourists, all of which come in the hope of meeting the elected official who drinks from a bowl.
ESA cats might give you a loving headbutt
If a human delivered a headbutt to you then you can safely say that they’d be crossed off your Christmas card list forever. However, if a cat does the same thing, it means that they like you. Could this be reverse psychology? Scientists claim that cats will headbutt people that they trust and feel safe around; so if your emotional support animal is of the feline variety and butts your leg every now and again, congratulations – you’re doing everything right.
Photo Credit: Patrice Alsteen