What are your options?
If you’re lucky to be able to have pets where you live, great! If not, don’t worry because there are other options to consider.
Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
An ESA is a registered pet that provides comfort and minimises negative symptoms of an emotional or psychological condition.
Cats purring and stroking their fur, for example, helps alleviate anxiety symptoms by calming the heart rate.
If your current place of residence doesn’t allow pets, you may want to look into registering your cat as an emotional support pet. Doing this means your landlord cannot refuse the pet in the property.
It is also a good option if you already have a cat but are wanting to move to a new property (provided you don’t take advantage of the system and in fact do need an ESA).
Finding a pet-friendly property
Pet-friendly properties are hard to come by on the market. It may take some time before you find the right place.
Zoopla is my favourite website to use to search for pet-friendly properties to rent. Using the ‘pets allowed’ search filter can massively reduce the number of listings you have to sift through. Some listings, however, don’t always use this filter or may not state whether pets are allowed or not. It may be worth contacting the agency and asking directly.
Let With Pets provides further advice and information about renting with a pet including the steps to finding a pet-friendly property and how to move your pet once you have found one.
Negotiating with landlord
Similar to asking the agency before you rent the property, ask about their pet policy when you go to a viewing. It is all down to the actual landlord but here are a few things you can do to persuade them:
- Offer to pay an extra deposit
- Landlords often want an extra deposit in case the property gets damaged by an animal (we all know cats like to cause havoc). Make an offer straight away so they know you are serious about your responsibility as a pet owner.
- Get a reference for your pet
- If you are looking to move your cat with you, get a reference from your previous landlord as this will prove you and your cat will be reliable tenants.
- Make sure you get written consent
- Like your normal tenancy agreement, your agreement regarding your cat should either be added to the contract or written in a separate letter.
If all else fails or you simply can’t afford to look after a cat, cat cafes are the best places for cat lovers.
Although it may be daunting for those with anxiety to leave the house, cat cafes are such tranquil places that provide the same sense of comfort as having your own cat.
For me personally, visiting my local cat cafes helped my anxiety as I found getting out of the flat itself benefitted my mental health. It was scary the first time on my own but the staff made me feel so welcome and I spent more time with the cats than actually interacting with humans. There was also a great sense of community surrounding the cat cafes as many other customers were in a similar position to me.
I ended up volunteering at one, made some great like-minded friends and own two kitties from the cafe!
Depending on the severity of your anxiety, I would definitely recommend visiting your local cat cafe, either on your own or with a friend/family member. It might also help you decide what breed of cat you want if you are considering getting your own.