How Do You Tell if a Cat is Bonded to a Human?

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Cats have been a popular pet choice for centuries, and for good reason.

Not only are they adorable and playful, but they also have a calming effect on their owners. But can cats really help you emotionally? This article will explore the therapeutic power of feline companionship and how it can benefit your mental health. From reducing stress and anxiety to providing comfort and companionship, cats can have a positive impact on your emotional well-being. So, let’s dive in and discover how these furry friends can help you on your journey to emotional balance.

Understanding the Emotional Bond between Humans and Cats

The innate desire for companionship

Humans have an inherent need for companionship, and this desire is often fulfilled by our furry feline friends. Cats have been domesticated for thousands of years and have adapted to living closely with humans. This close relationship has led to cats becoming an integral part of the family, providing companionship and support to their human counterparts.

The desire for companionship is a fundamental human need, and cats are uniquely suited to fulfilling this need. Unlike dogs, cats are not as demanding of their human’s attention, but they are still capable of providing emotional support and comfort. Cats are often independent and can provide their own company, making them ideal companions for those who may not have the time or energy to devote to a more demanding pet.

Cats have been shown to have a calming effect on their human companions, reducing stress and anxiety levels. Studies have found that petting a cat can lower blood pressure and heart rate, leading to a reduction in stress hormones. Additionally, cats have been found to have a positive impact on mental health, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in their human companions.

Furthermore, cats have been shown to have a positive impact on social interactions. Cats can be a great conversation starter, helping their human companions to connect with others and form new relationships. Additionally, cats can provide a sense of security and comfort, making it easier for their human companions to open up and share their feelings with others.

Overall, the desire for companionship is a fundamental human need, and cats are uniquely suited to fulfilling this need. They provide emotional support, reduce stress and anxiety levels, and have a positive impact on social interactions, making them an ideal companion for those seeking emotional support and comfort.

The unique connection with cats

The relationship between humans and cats is a unique one, and it’s often characterized by a mutual trust and respect. Unlike dogs, cats are not pack animals, and they do not rely on humans for survival in the same way. However, cats have adapted to living with humans and have formed a close bond with them. This bond is based on mutual appreciation, as cats seem to enjoy the company of humans, and humans find cats to be an enjoyable and interesting companion.

One of the key aspects of the relationship between humans and cats is the fact that cats are highly individualistic creatures. They have their own personalities, likes, and dislikes, and they will often form strong bonds with specific individuals rather than with the entire family. This individualistic nature of cats means that they are well-suited to living with people who appreciate their independence and autonomy.

Another unique aspect of the bond between humans and cats is the fact that cats are highly expressive creatures. They communicate with humans through body language, vocalizations, and even facial expressions. This means that cats are highly attuned to human emotions and can sense when their human companions are feeling happy, sad, or anxious. In turn, cats have been known to provide comfort and solace to their human companions, especially during times of stress or anxiety.

Finally, the bond between humans and cats is based on mutual respect. Cats have a natural instinct to be independent and self-sufficient, and they will often only seek out human companionship when they want it. This means that cats are not needy or clingy, and they will not seek out human attention if they are not in the mood for it. In turn, humans must respect this independence and not try to force their company on cats.

Overall, the unique connection between humans and cats is based on mutual trust, respect, and appreciation. Cats are highly individualistic creatures who are attuned to human emotions and can provide comfort and solace when needed. This bond is a powerful one and can have a positive impact on human emotional well-being.

The Science Behind Cat Therapy

Key takeaway: Cats can provide emotional support, reduce stress and anxiety levels, and have a positive impact on social interactions, making them an ideal companion for those seeking emotional support and comfort. The unique bond between humans and cats is based on mutual trust, respect, and appreciation, with cats being highly individualistic creatures who are attuned to human emotions and can provide comfort and solace when needed. The release of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of well-being and contentment, is another way cats can help emotionally. Cat therapy can have a positive impact on mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, increasing feelings of social connection, and providing a sense of purpose. ESAs can provide a variety of benefits to individuals who suffer from emotional or mental health conditions, including reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation, providing a sense of comfort and security, reducing feelings of anxiety and stress, improving mood and reducing symptoms of depression, and increasing feelings of relaxation and well-being. Having a cat as an ESA provides several legal rights and benefits, including the right to live in pet-friendly housing, the right to fly with your ESA, and the right to have your ESA with you in public spaces. Cat ownership can have a positive impact on individuals who are feeling lonely or depressed, providing a sense of companionship and alleviating feelings of isolation. It can also provide a sense of purpose and responsibility, encouraging relaxation and stress relief, and owning a cat can have a calming effect on its owner, helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

The release of oxytocin

When cats are around, our bodies respond in a way that promotes feelings of well-being and contentment. One of the primary ways this happens is through the release of a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “cuddle hormone” because it is released during social interactions, such as when we stroke or cuddle with our feline friends.

Here are some details about the release of oxytocin:

  • Oxytocin is a neuropeptide: Oxytocin is a small protein that is produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. It acts on various parts of the brain to promote social bonding, trust, and feelings of closeness.
  • It’s released during social interactions: Oxytocin is released during activities such as hugging, touching, and sex. When we interact with our cats, oxytocin is released, which can help strengthen the bond between us and our feline companions.
  • It promotes positive emotions: Oxytocin has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase feelings of happiness and well-being. This is why spending time with our cats can be so rewarding and uplifting.
  • It can help heal wounds: Oxytocin has also been shown to promote healing by reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. This can be particularly helpful for people who are recovering from surgery or illness.

Overall, the release of oxytocin is just one way that cats can help us emotionally. By providing us with comfort, companionship, and love, they can have a positive impact on our mental health and well-being.

The reduction of stress and anxiety

Research has shown that interacting with cats can have a positive impact on reducing stress and anxiety levels in humans. The mere presence of a cat can lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress, leading to a sense of calm and relaxation. This is attributed to the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the “cuddle hormone,” which promotes feelings of bonding and well-being. Additionally, the rhythmic purring of cats has been found to have a calming effect on the nervous system, further contributing to the reduction of stress and anxiety. It is important to note that while cats can provide emotional benefits, they should not be solely relied upon as a substitute for professional medical treatment for mental health conditions.

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The positive impact on mental health

Research has shown that cat therapy can have a positive impact on mental health. Some of the ways in which cats can help with mental health include:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety: Cats can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels in their owners. Studies have shown that interacting with cats can lower cortisol levels, which is a hormone that is associated with stress.
  • Improving mood: Owning a cat can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. One study found that cat owners had a lower risk of developing depression than non-cat owners.
  • Increasing feelings of social connection: Cats can also help to increase feelings of social connection. One study found that cat owners were more likely to have a strong sense of social connection than non-cat owners.
  • Providing a sense of purpose: Owning a cat can provide a sense of purpose and can help to improve overall well-being.

Overall, cat therapy can have a positive impact on mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, increasing feelings of social connection, and providing a sense of purpose.

Cats as Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

The role of ESAs in providing comfort and support

ESAs are specifically trained animals that provide emotional support to individuals with mental or emotional disabilities, such as anxiety or depression. They are not service animals, which are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with physical disabilities.

ESAs can provide a variety of benefits to individuals who suffer from emotional or mental health conditions. Some of these benefits include:

  • Reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Providing a sense of comfort and security
  • Reducing feelings of anxiety and stress
  • Improving mood and reducing symptoms of depression
  • Increasing feelings of relaxation and well-being

ESAs can be helpful in a variety of settings, including at home, in the workplace, and in public places. They can be particularly helpful for individuals who are unable to participate in traditional forms of therapy, such as those who are homebound or who live in remote areas.

Overall, ESAs can provide a valuable source of emotional support for individuals who are struggling with mental or emotional health conditions. However, it is important to note that ESAs are not a substitute for professional medical treatment, and individuals should always consult with a healthcare provider before seeking out an ESA.

Legal rights and benefits of having a cat as an ESA

While service animals are specifically trained to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities, emotional support animals (ESAs) are not. ESAs are pets that provide comfort and support to individuals with mental or emotional disabilities, but they do not need to be trained for a specific task.

Having a cat as an ESA provides several legal rights and benefits, including:

  • The right to live in pet-friendly housing: Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords and housing providers are required to allow individuals with disabilities to have ESAs in their homes, even if there is a no-pet policy in place.
  • The right to fly with your ESA: Airlines are required to allow individuals with ESAs to bring their pets on board, provided that they meet certain requirements, such as providing documentation from a licensed mental health professional.
  • The right to have your ESA with you in public spaces: Individuals with ESAs are allowed to bring their pets with them to public spaces, such as parks and restaurants, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

It is important to note that ESAs do not have the same legal protections as service animals, and it is up to the individual to provide documentation and explanation of their need for an ESA. Additionally, it is important to treat your ESA with the same care and responsibility as any other pet, and to follow local laws and regulations regarding pet ownership.

Therapeutic Benefits of Cat Ownership

Easing feelings of loneliness and depression

Research has shown that cat ownership can have a positive impact on individuals who are feeling lonely or depressed. One study conducted by the University of Manchester found that people who owned cats were less likely to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation than those who did not have a pet. Additionally, a report by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that interacting with cats can help to reduce symptoms of depression in some individuals.

There are several reasons why cat ownership may be beneficial for individuals experiencing loneliness or depression. For one, cats provide a sense of companionship and can help to alleviate feelings of isolation. They are also a source of comfort and can provide a sense of security and safety, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals who are feeling anxious or depressed.

Furthermore, cats require regular care and attention, which can provide a sense of purpose and routine for individuals who may be feeling aimless or unmotivated. Additionally, interacting with cats can provide a form of social interaction, even for individuals who may have difficulty connecting with others.

Overall, while more research is needed to fully understand the therapeutic benefits of cat ownership, the available evidence suggests that cats can be a valuable source of support for individuals who are experiencing loneliness or depression.

Providing a sense of purpose and responsibility

One of the therapeutic benefits of cat ownership is the provision of a sense of purpose and responsibility. Studies have shown that caring for a cat can provide individuals with a sense of purpose and a feeling of accomplishment.

Caring for a cat requires a significant amount of time and effort, including feeding, grooming, and providing a safe and comfortable living environment. These tasks can help individuals develop a routine and structure in their lives, which can be particularly beneficial for those who may be struggling with mental health issues or feeling overwhelmed by their daily responsibilities.

Furthermore, cats are often considered to be low-maintenance pets, as they are self-cleaning and do not require constant attention or interaction. This can be beneficial for individuals who may feel overwhelmed by the demands of other pets or may have limited time or energy to devote to pet care.

In addition to providing a sense of purpose and responsibility, caring for a cat can also provide individuals with a sense of companionship and social connection. Cats are often seen as a source of comfort and support, and many individuals report feeling less lonely or isolated when they have a cat by their side. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who may be experiencing depression or anxiety, as social isolation can exacerbate these conditions.

Overall, the therapeutic benefits of cat ownership are numerous and can provide individuals with a sense of purpose, responsibility, companionship, and social connection.

Encouraging relaxation and stress relief

Owning a cat can have a calming effect on its owner, helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation. This is because interacting with a cat can provide a sense of comfort and security, which can help to lower cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress, and high levels of cortisol can have negative effects on both physical and mental health.

In addition to reducing stress, cats can also help to promote relaxation by providing a source of comfort and companionship. Cats are known for their ability to sense when their owner is feeling stressed or anxious, and they will often seek out physical contact in an effort to provide comfort and support. This can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, and can also help to promote feelings of relaxation and well-being.

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Research has also shown that owning a cat can help to reduce blood pressure, which is another indicator of stress. In a study conducted by the National Institute of Health, it was found that cat owners had lower blood pressure than non-cat owners. This was attributed to the fact that interacting with a cat can help to reduce stress, which in turn can help to lower blood pressure.

Furthermore, cats can also provide a source of comfort and support for individuals who are experiencing anxiety or depression. Studies have shown that interacting with a cat can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can be a contributing factor to these mental health conditions. Additionally, the presence of a cat can provide a sense of routine and structure, which can be beneficial for individuals who are struggling with anxiety or depression.

Overall, owning a cat can have a positive impact on an individual’s mental health by reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and providing a source of comfort and support. This can lead to improved emotional well-being and a greater sense of overall happiness and contentment.

Cat-Assisted Therapy Programs

Examples of successful programs and their impact

There are several successful cat-assisted therapy programs that have been implemented around the world. These programs utilize cats as a form of therapy to improve the emotional well-being of individuals, particularly those with mental health conditions. One such program is the “Pawsitive Tails” program in Australia, which provides therapy sessions for children with autism spectrum disorder. The program has shown significant improvements in the children’s social interactions and communication skills.

Another successful program is the “Cats and Cancer” program in the United States, which provides therapy sessions for cancer patients. The program has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression levels in patients, as well as improve their overall quality of life. Additionally, the “Cat Therapy” program in Japan provides therapy sessions for individuals with depression and anxiety, and has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of both conditions.

Overall, these successful cat-assisted therapy programs demonstrate the potential therapeutic power of feline companionship and highlight the positive impact it can have on individuals’ emotional well-being.

The role of trained therapy cats

Therapy cats are felines that have been specifically trained to provide emotional support and comfort to individuals in various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health facilities. These cats are carefully selected for their temperament and ability to interact with people in a calm and gentle manner. They undergo extensive training to develop specific skills that make them effective in providing emotional support.

Therapy cats are trained to provide comfort and companionship to individuals in need. They are often used in therapy sessions to help patients relax and feel more at ease. They can also be used in animal-assisted therapy programs, which involve the use of animals, including cats, to help individuals with physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities.

Therapy cats are not just pets, but they are also trained to perform specific tasks. For example, they may be trained to sit on a person’s lap, allowing them to pet and stroke the cat, which can help to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. They may also be trained to interact with individuals who have limited mobility, allowing them to provide companionship and comfort to those who are bedridden or confined to a wheelchair.

Therapy cats are not just beneficial for the patients, but they also benefit the therapists and caregivers. Studies have shown that interacting with therapy cats can reduce stress and improve mood in healthcare professionals, leading to improved job satisfaction and better patient care.

In conclusion, therapy cats play an important role in providing emotional support and comfort to individuals in various settings. They are carefully selected, trained, and monitored to ensure that they are able to provide the best possible care and support to those in need.

Cat Rescue and Therapy Programs

The healing power of rescue cats

Research has shown that rescue cats can have a profound impact on their human companions’ emotional well-being. By providing a loving home to a cat in need, individuals can experience a sense of purpose and fulfillment, which in turn can improve their mental health. In addition, rescue cats themselves are often highly attuned to human emotions, and their calming presence can help alleviate anxiety and depression in their adoptive owners. This section will explore the unique benefits of adopting a rescue cat as a means of promoting emotional healing and personal growth.

Emotional benefits of adopting a rescue cat

Adopting a rescue cat can be a deeply rewarding experience, both for the cat and for the human. By providing a safe and loving home to an animal in need, individuals can experience a sense of purpose and fulfillment that can enhance their overall emotional well-being. In addition, the process of adopting a rescue cat often involves a deep emotional connection with the animal, which can lead to a sense of bonding and belonging. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who may feel isolated or disconnected from others.

Therapeutic benefits of rescue cats

Rescue cats are often highly attuned to human emotions, and their calming presence can have a profound impact on their adoptive owners’ mental health. Studies have shown that interacting with cats can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can help alleviate anxiety and depression. In addition, the presence of a pet can provide a sense of comfort and security, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals who may be experiencing trauma or other emotional challenges.

The power of empathy in the human-cat bond

One of the unique aspects of the human-cat bond is the ability of cats to inspire empathy in their adoptive owners. By providing a loving home to a rescue cat, individuals can experience a sense of connection with the animal that can promote emotional healing and personal growth. This sense of empathy can help individuals develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their own emotions, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals who may be struggling with mental health challenges.

In conclusion, the healing power of rescue cats is a unique and valuable aspect of the human-cat bond. By providing a loving home to an animal in need, individuals can experience a sense of purpose and fulfillment that can enhance their overall emotional well-being. In addition, the calming presence of a rescue cat can help alleviate anxiety and depression, and can inspire empathy and personal growth in their adoptive owners.

Organizations utilizing rescue cats for therapy

Various organizations have recognized the potential of rescue cats as therapy animals. These programs involve rescuing cats from shelters and training them to provide emotional support and comfort to individuals in need.

Some of these organizations include:

  • The Good Karma Cat Rescue: This organization, based in Los Angeles, California, rescues cats from high-kill shelters and trains them to become therapy cats. They work with various facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, and schools, to provide comfort and emotional support to patients and students.
  • The Pawsitive Change Program: This program, run by the Winnipeg Humane Society in Canada, trains rescue cats to become therapy animals for individuals with physical, emotional, and mental health challenges. The program also offers education and support to those who are interested in adopting therapy cats.
  • The C.A.T. Program (Companion Animal Therapy): This program, run by the Veterans Affairs Canada, provides therapy cats to veterans and other individuals in need. The program aims to reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall well-being for those who interact with the therapy cats.

These organizations not only save the lives of rescue cats but also provide valuable services to individuals in need. By utilizing rescue cats for therapy, these organizations are able to provide a sense of purpose and love to animals that may have otherwise been euthanized, while also providing emotional support to those who interact with them.

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Personal stories of individuals benefiting from cat therapy

Cats have been known to provide emotional support and companionship to individuals, particularly those who are struggling with mental health issues. Personal stories of individuals who have benefited from cat therapy can provide insight into the therapeutic power of feline companionship.

Success Stories of Cat Therapy

  • John: John, a former soldier, was struggling with PTSD and anxiety after returning from deployment. He was introduced to a therapy cat named Charlie, who quickly became his constant companion. John found that spending time with Charlie helped him to feel more grounded and calm, and he was able to better manage his symptoms.
  • Sarah: Sarah was diagnosed with depression and struggled to find motivation to engage in daily activities. She was introduced to a therapy cat named Oliver, who would sit with her while she worked on her therapy exercises. Sarah found that Oliver’s presence helped her to feel more motivated and energized, and she was able to make progress in her therapy.
  • Michael: Michael was diagnosed with autism and struggled with social interactions. He was introduced to a therapy cat named Felix, who would sit with him during therapy sessions. Michael found that Felix’s presence helped him to feel more comfortable and at ease, and he was able to better engage in social interactions.

These personal stories highlight the potential benefits of cat therapy for individuals struggling with mental health issues. Cats can provide emotional support, companionship, and motivation, helping individuals to better manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Considerations for Cat Ownership as Emotional Support

The commitment and responsibility involved

While cats can provide emotional support, owning a cat involves a significant commitment and responsibility. As a cat owner, you will need to:

  • Provide food, water, and a safe living environment
  • Keep the litter box clean and accessible
  • Schedule regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations
  • Provide necessary medical care when ill
  • Address behavioral issues and train if needed
  • Ensure regular exercise and mental stimulation
  • Spend quality time and give attention to the cat
  • Manage any allergies or health concerns

These responsibilities may seem overwhelming at first, but with proper planning and dedication, owning a cat can be a rewarding experience. It is important to assess your own ability to care for a cat before committing to ownership, as the well-being of the cat depends on it.

Allergies and other potential challenges

While the emotional benefits of cat ownership are significant, it is important to consider potential challenges that may arise, particularly for individuals with allergies or other sensitivities.

Allergies

Cat allergies are common, affecting up to 10% of the population. The allergic reaction is caused by a sensitivity to the proteins found in cat saliva, skin cells, and urine. Common symptoms include sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and difficulty breathing.

For individuals with cat allergies, it may be challenging to maintain a cat as an emotional support animal. In some cases, exposure to even small amounts of cat allergens can trigger an allergic reaction. This may limit the amount of time spent with the cat and could make it difficult to maintain a healthy living environment.

Other Potential Challenges

In addition to allergies, there are other potential challenges to consider when exploring the use of cats as emotional support animals. These may include:

  • Aggression or fear-based behavior in the cat
  • Inadequate training or socialization
  • Difficulty in providing appropriate care and attention to the cat’s needs
  • Cost and resource considerations associated with owning a cat

It is important to carefully consider these potential challenges before deciding to incorporate a cat into your emotional support network. Working with a mental health professional and a knowledgeable animal care provider can help ensure that you are well-informed and prepared to make the best decision for your individual needs and circumstances.

Finding the right cat for emotional support

When considering owning a cat as an emotional support animal, it is important to find the right feline companion to suit your individual needs and personality. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a cat for emotional support:

  • Temperament: Different cats have different temperaments, and it is important to choose one that is calm and relaxed. A cat that is hyperactive or easily agitated may not be the best choice for emotional support.
  • Breed: Certain breeds are known for being more affectionate and sociable than others. For example, Siamese and Persian cats are often sought after for their friendly and outgoing personalities.
  • Age: Kittens can be adorable and playful, but they may not be the best choice for emotional support. Adult cats are often more relaxed and easy-going, making them better suited for this role.
  • Health: It is important to choose a cat that is in good health, as a sick or injured cat may not be able to provide the emotional support you need.
  • Size: If you live in a small apartment or have limited space, a smaller cat breed may be a better choice than a larger one.
  • Personality: It is important to choose a cat whose personality matches your own. For example, if you are an outgoing and social person, you may prefer a cat that is also friendly and sociable.

By carefully considering these factors, you can find the right cat for emotional support that will provide you with comfort and companionship for years to come.

FAQs

1. What is the evidence that cats can help with emotional well-being?

Cats have been known to provide emotional support and improve mental health. Studies have shown that pet ownership, including cat ownership, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Interactions with cats have also been shown to increase feelings of happiness and well-being. Additionally, cats can provide a sense of comfort and security, which can help individuals feel more emotionally stable.

2. How do cats provide emotional support?

Cats provide emotional support in a variety of ways. They can be a source of comfort and relaxation, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Playing with cats can also provide a sense of joy and happiness, which can improve overall emotional well-being. Additionally, cats can provide a sense of companionship, which can help individuals feel less lonely and more connected.

3. Are some cats better at providing emotional support than others?

Some cats may be better at providing emotional support than others. Cats with a friendly and outgoing personality may be more likely to seek out interaction with their owners and provide emotional support. Additionally, cats that are trained to provide therapy may be more effective at providing emotional support. However, any cat can provide emotional support and improve mental health, regardless of their personality or training.

4. Can cats help with specific mental health conditions?

Cats can be helpful for a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. Interactions with cats have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and can provide a sense of comfort and security. Additionally, cats can provide a sense of routine and structure, which can be beneficial for individuals with mental health conditions.

5. Are there any potential downsides to relying on cats for emotional support?

While cats can provide emotional support, it is important to remember that they are not a substitute for professional mental health treatment. Individuals with severe mental health conditions should seek out professional help and not rely solely on their cat for emotional support. Additionally, some individuals may experience allergies or other health issues when around cats, which can negatively impact their mental health. It is important to consider these potential downsides and make sure to seek out professional help when necessary.

Cats as Emotional Support Animals!

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