Picking a pet is tough. You need one that suits your lifestyle and temperament. If you’re an outdoorsy person, then your best option might be a dog, but if you’re more the stay-at-home kind, a relaxing cat might be the best bet. There are, of course, many more options for a new pet, from the feathery to the scaly, but the main war has always been between canines and felines. It’s no different in the emotional support animal world. Although a few other species crop up, ESA owners usually opt for emotional support cats or emotional support dogs.
But when choosing a companion, potential ESA owners have a different set of considerations than regular pet owners. Although emotional support cats and dogs provide all the comforts and fun of a normal pet, ESA animals also cater to their owners in other more important ways.
Many people around the world are affected by mental disorders for which treatment can be a complicated and lengthy process. Because illnesses of the mind are unseen, they can even be hard to diagnose, let alone treat. ESAs are a relatively new treatment plan but are already proving to be hugely successful in confronting and abating symptoms of some of the most common mental disorders.
To avail of an ESA, all you need is an emotional support animal letter from your primary care provider, and you’re good to go. It can be an existing pet, or it can be a brand new animal you’re bringing into your life. So once your ESA letter is out of the way, the fun part becomes choosing your new friend. Any species of animal can become an ESA, but, as with regular pets, the most common are the trusty ol’ felines and canines.
Both emotional support cats and emotional support dogs can suit specific types of mental disorders, and which one best suits you might just depend on your particular diagnosis. Generally, ESAs are prescribed to people with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, borderline and bipolar disorders. They provide relief and comfort in very different ways depending on the illness and the animal. Aligning these two things is the best way to get the most out of your new pet. Let’s take ESA cats and ESA dogs one by one, and see which disorders they best match up to. It might be a helpful way to inform your decision when it comes to your very own ESA.
Emotional Support Cats
Everyone knows that cats are the less active of the two ESA animals. They like to sleep and laze around a lot and generally do very little. They can be kept indoors, though most breeds do like getting back to their natural instincts and attempting to hunt and play outdoors. The main difference between a cat’s outdoor activities and dog’s is that a cat can be left alone when they’re outside.
Contrary to popular opinion (and as any good cat-lover will know), felines can be extremely affectionate companions and just as lovable and loving as dogs. The difference is in their mentality: Emotional support dogs think of their families as packs, whereas emotional support cats are independent.
So we can already see that cats might suit some mental disorders more than others. Because cats are so relaxed and their purring can be relaxing to humans, they are best suited to anxiety-related afflictions. There’s nothing more calming than stroking a chilled-out cat. Even their mere presence in the room can make you feel more grounded and at ease. If generalized anxiety disorder is a recurring and near constant problem for a patient, the ESA cat could be kept indoors to provide constant companionship. There are plenty of breeds that are more than content to spend their life relaxing in the safe and warm confines of a house.
Emotional Support Dogs
Emotional support dogs, on the other hand, are more adept at treating depression, as they force sufferers to get outside and walk them. This, in turn, is a handy tactic in combating the most pervasive symptoms of depression, including lack of motivation and fear or unwillingness to engage with others. Dogs are also eternally delighted to see and interact with their ESA owners and bring a sense of responsibility to the table with their care and upkeep. Both can be useful tools in the fight against depression.
Dogs are also a good choice for children with autism or adults with PTSD, especially larger dogs who are calm and controlled. Over time, the animal will understand its role during these troubled times for its owner and act dependably and reassuringly.
So when it comes to picking your new emotional support animal, you have to factor in two things: a little of what animal you like and a little of what animal you need. Don’t stress too much about it, though The bottom line is as long as your ESA works for you, then any choice is perfectly fine.