My Emotional Support Animal is a Cat
For as long as I can remember, I've always felt "sad" and "scared" for reasons that were unknown to me. I would cry for no reason, have random anxiety attacks, and I'd have thoughts that didn't always make me feel the best about myself. This is the short story of how my cat, Einstein, rescued me from the darkest of times and showed me the light.
Einstein, the Cat who Saved My Life
I remember sitting on the couch with my mother the night before I got him, convincing her to let me get a new cat for my birthday. After a long night of deliberation, she finally said yes. The next morning, January 4, 2020, I told my friends to meet me at the humane society because I was going to pick out a new cat. They were ecstatic; they knew how depressed I got when my first cat, Twilight, passed away in November of last year due to complications with FIV.
Our First Month
Our first month together, compared to others who had only had their cat for a month, would be pretty different. He showed nothing but love; in fact, the first time I saw him, he hopped onto my shoulder and I just walked around the humane society with him (definitely can't do it now, he takes up a good quarter of my bed). Almost immediately, he would curl up next to me as I worked on my schoolwork in bed. Since my bed has cubbies in the headboard, he claimed the cubby nearest to the side of the bed I sleep on. He immediately became my cuddle buddy and, most importantly, my best friend.
During that time, I was diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety. Also, at the same time, I was going through a rough patch with my parents (as most teenagers do during their time of adolescence). With those aspects taken into consideration, it would almost be easily conclusive that I would have a few mental breakdowns (like I said, as teenagers do). Usually, I'd be alone to wallow in self-pity, but this time around was different; I had to hear small, high-pitched meows and purring when he rubbed up against me.
After that night, I was never the same again. Einstein realized that I was never going to be alone because I had him. Whenever I felt even a little upset, he'd pick up on it right away and tend to my needs. Of course, it never stopped the depression, but Einstein treated me better than any medication ever did. I knew that with that cat by my side, I'd be able to do anything.
The Big Decision
At the beginning of February, I finalized my plan to graduate high school by December 2020 and start university by January 2021. With that in mind, my parents asked me what I was going to do with the cat. This threw my mind into a whirlwind. In an anxious state, I contacted my therapist for advice. She asked me if I considered registering Einstein as an ESA (Emotional Support Animal). At the time, I had no idea about what that was. After a few nights' worth of research and deliberation, my parents and I thought it was a wonderful idea!
After the decision was made, I asked Becky (my therapist) how I'd take him to university with me. It was fairly simple; contact the Disability Office at the school and they do the rest. Apparently, Becky is gonna have to fax a letter to them, verifying my "disability", how he serves as an accommodation for the verified disability, and how the need for him relates to the ability of the student (me) to use and enjoy the living arrangements available through the school. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, you're right- it is.
The Process on My End
Luckily for me, I don't have to do as much as Becky does. I have to go onto a website (a legit one, for that matter), pay a fee for registration and whatever comes with the registration, and train Einstein to have manners. Now, don't get me wrong- Einstein is a sweetheart, but BOY does he misbehave! Just last night, I was working on the "sit" command, and guess what he does? He jumps, clings onto my hand, and eats the treats from my hand. Unbelievable.
Then again, how does one train a cat? I've read wikihows, watched YouTube videos, and read books, but nothing is working for me. Maybe it's me and I just can't train a cat? Maybe it's Einstein being a boy and he'll grow into it? Lord knows I won't give up, but time is of the essence, and we're not making any progress whatsoever.
Anyways, with all of that aside, Einstein will become a fine ESA for me. I'm sure that with some time, patience, and a good amount of treats, he'll learn the maneuvers and realize that he needs manners in the real world. My college wish list on Amazon is full, my closet is empty, and my hopes are high. At this point, all I can do is wait.