For the thousands of people with emotional support cats out there, the support and comfort those animals provide are worth every penny of ownership. An ESA cat’s companionship, affection, and positive impact simply cannot be overstated.
But with having an emotional support cat comes many responsibilities. Not only do you have to ensure that your ESA cat has all the necessary paperwork when you travel or secure housing, you also have to ensure it stays healthy and safe.
One key to keeping your ESA cat in tip-top shape is to make sure it’s up to date on all its vaccinations. If you’re not sure what that entails, then read on to find out what vaccinations your ESA cat requires.
Do Cats Really Need Vaccinations?
Whether you have a cat that is a registered ESA or not, all cats need vaccinations. These shots help to safeguard their health and can help them to live longer.
Are You Legally Required to Vaccinate an ESA Cat?
The short answer is yes. Almost every state requires that all cats receive at least a rabies vaccination. This is because of the threat a cat with rabies can pose to humans, who can easily become infected. The other vaccinations may not be legally required, but are nonetheless a good idea to protect your ESA cat and ensure they’re with you for a long time.
Vaccinations Needed For Your ESA Cat
Cats need vaccinations both as kittens and adults, so even if you get your cat when it’s older, you may still need to ensure it’s caught up with all the vaccinations it needs.
A kitten should begin receiving vaccinations when it is about eight weeks old until it is roughly 16 weeks. They’ll need an additional booster one year later. The vaccinations are given every three to four weeks to kittens at this age until they’re up to date. Adults cats will need fewer vaccinations, but it’s still important to follow your veterinarian’s vaccine schedule.
The vaccines recommended for cats include:
- Feline distemper vaccine (protects against three different viruses: calicivirus, panleukopenia, and rhinotracheitis)
- Feline leukemia
Are There Any Risks Associated With Vaccines For Cats?
Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to mount a response to an inactivated or low dose of whatever disease is being guarded against. This means that mild symptoms can occur following your cat’s vaccinations, but that’s normally nothing to worry about.
Rarely, a cat can suffer from tumors at the injection site or immune disease, but those side effects are normally linked to a medical condition or pre-existing condition the cat may have. In reality, the benefits far outweigh the risks when it comes to making sure your ESA cat is fully vaccinated.
How To Get An ESA Letter For Your Cat
If you don’t have an ESA letter for your cat yet but would like to get one, the process isn’t as complicated as you may think. The licensed mental health professional you work with, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can write you an ESA letter on their letterhead.
An ESA letter should include the license number of the person prescribing it, the type of license they have, and the date of issue. The medical professional’s signature is required as well. The letter should state that you have a qualifying medical condition and are being prescribed an emotional support animal for that condition. It can go on to explain that the animal is necessary for you to help control your symptoms and live your life to the fullest.
The ESA letter doesn’t need to state the type of animal or breed of animal, but it should contain your name and any other pertinent details.
What You Can Use An ESA Letter For
There are several benefits to having a valid ESA letter. The most important is that it can help you circumvent regulations that may prevent your ESA from traveling or living with you. Some of the most common benefits of an ESA letter include:
- Your animal being permitted to travel in the cabin of the airplane with you
- Not being required to pay more to bring your ESA with you with flying or renting hotels or other accommodations
- Having your pet live with you in rented accommodation where pets might otherwise not be permitted
If you have a valid ESA letter, your animal can accompany you in all the situations listed above. Just be sure to make an arrangement beforehand, especially when traveling with your ESA. Airlines and hotels (as well as other accommodations) may ask you for your ESA letter as well as proof that your ESA is fully vaccinated and up to date on their shots.