Moosh - cat and owner

If you’ve decided it could be beneficial for you to have an emotional support animal (ESA) in your life, you might need some help brainstorming where to find the perfect pet. If your lifestyle doesn’t fit well with owning a dog (they can require lots of attention and exercise), you might want to consider getting a cat instead. An emotional support cat can add so many positive elements to your life – companionship, affection, and responsibility. So, here are some ideas of where you should head to get your cat.

Animal Shelters

Shelters are often filled with cats that need good homes. Well-run, reputable shelters can assure you that each cat in their facility has been checked out medically and is already spayed or neutered. Shelter employees are a great resource for any questions you might have and can often give you a great deal of insight into each cat. They can tell you about a particular cat’s temperament, behavior, past history, how well they interact with other animals, etc., so that you can get a full picture of any pet you’re considering adopting. Although kittens are adorable and might catch your eye, consider adopting a full-grown cat instead. With these cats, you’ll be certain of their size and temperament, unlike kittens who haven’t developed and matured yet. Shelters are a good option because it can be easier to develop bonds with animals who desperately need help and who can sense that you’re committed to giving them a happy home.

To find your nearest shelter, head to the Humane Society website to search by your zip code. You can also Google animal shelters or animal control agencies near you to locate a shelter that has cats available for adoption.

Moosh - striped cat
A shelter is always a great place to find pets, including cats.

Petfinder.com

This site is a great resource if you don’t have a shelter nearby or if you have specific requirements that you’re looking for in a cat. The site lets you search for available cats near you by breed, age, size, sex, and much more, so that you can tailor your search to find the perfect ESA for you. Similar to shelters, Petfinder.com also has cats that are in dire need of a good home and a loving owner. Although there can be some potential hoops to jump through to complete the adoption process (like an interview with a specific agency or a home visit), the extra work is well worth it when you have a new furry friend to take home with you.

Rescue Groups

Petfinder.com is a helpful tool to locate rescue groups in your area, but you can also do a quick search online to find other groups that have cats to adopt. If you’re not sure which groups are reliable, you can always ask your local veterinarian or pet groomer if they have any groups they can recommend.

Pet Stores

Although most larger pet stores don’t do direct selling of kittens or cats anymore, a lot of them have cat adoption centers that can help match you to the perfect feline. The process typically consists of an application you need to complete and then an interview with an adoption counselor. There can be adoption fees involved as well. Many big chain pet stores (like PetSmart or PetCo) hold adoption fairs on the weekends, where shelters and rescue groups can show off the cats that need to be adopted.

It’s a good idea to steer clear of independent pet stores that are selling kittens or adult cats. These animals are usually from “kitten mills,” which are cat breeders that are trying to breed as many cats as possible for profit. Cats raised in these mills are often living in poor conditions and have health and/or behavioral problems. You’re pretty much always better off trying to adopt a cat rather than buying one that ends up supporting these types of dangerous and inhumane enterprises.

Moosh - Kitten on Bed
Be careful where you go to purchase your emotional support cat or kitten.

Breeders

If you’re searching for a specific breed for your emotional support cat, you can look into purchasing from a breeder. Do your research first by determining which breed will fit your needs and can best help with your mental health symptoms. This option is often the most costly (cats from breeders can cost hundreds – even thousands! – of dollars), so be aware that buying from a breeder isn’t always the most frugal choice. However, if it’s important to you to have a purebred cat, then breeders are the best way to ensure that you’re not getting a mixed breed.

Classified Ads

You might see classified ads in the newspaper or online touting kittens for sale. These types of ads require you to do plenty of research to ensure you’re dealing with a reputable company or person. Even if the animals advertised are free, you should be wary. Most of the time, these ads are selling kittens or cats that haven’t had proper medical care. They can also have behavioral problems that can make them ineffective as emotional support animals. However, you don’t have to completely disregard the ads or postings you might see online or on social media. Just go in with an open mind and be on the lookout for any signs that might indicate cats that are coming from “kitten mills” or from people just trying to make a buck.

If you’re thinking about getting an emotional support cat, put the word out to your family and friends. Word of mouth can often be a great way of finding out if there are cats in your neighborhood that need a good home. Just remember to do your homework and ask lots of questions so that you can find the very best ESA for your needs!

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