Can I/should I get a "prescription cat?"
August 28, 2012 7:23 AM Subscribe
Getting a prescription cat... How to, should I, and can I?
Please don't flagellate me, I'm truly not trying to abuse any systems here--I just learned of this possibility and am trying to figure out if it's something for me. I have a history of depression and anxiety, am currently in treatment for a compulsive eating disorder which is definitely related to anxiety. I moved to San Francisco less than a year ago and am currently living in an apartment that allows no pets at all. Reading AskMe for other cat-related things, I saw mention of doctors "prescribing" cats. When I've cohabited with cats in the past, my anxiety has been noticeably better/more manageable, as has my depression (which now seems to be dysthymia, and I'm coping... okay). I'm an excellent pet owner/foster cat owner, and their presence benefits me significantly. From what little I know, it seems like a therapy cat might be an option?
So: is this something I should look into? I really don't want to misuse a system that's set up for folks who are much worse off than me, but I do struggle with some mental health issues and I do know that cats have a history of helping. Are my issues too trivial? I imagine cats make everybody feel better, so perhaps this is a silly idea.
If this is a) a real thing which b) I can use without moral qualms or taking advantage of a system that's intended for other purposes (therapy dogs, etc.), how does it work? Do I just talk to my regular eating disorder psychiatrist? Are my landlords obligated to accept a therapy cat? Does the cat need to be in some way exceptional/trained to qualify as such? Would future stigma about therapy animals make it less likely for me to find a place in SF's insane housing market, or would having taken this action negatively affect me in other ways I haven't thought of (some nightmarish insurance company issue, etc.)? This is far, far down the line, but I'm a good pet owner and the difference I noticed when I've had a cat was palpable.
Again, I'm not trying to be a jerk or take advantage of the system, but I don't feel like I have a sense of perspective about when therapy animals are appropriate.