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bookworm285
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:35 am    Post subject: Cat as Service Animal Reply with quote

Does anyone here have a cat as a service animal? (instead of as an emotional support animal.) If so, how do you train it? What breed do you think is best?
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ChrisVulcan
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always assumed that we served cats, not the other way around. Confused

But I know that a lot of different species can be used as service animals. Dogs, birds, horses, monkeys, you name it.
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MagicMeerkat
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a lizard that is my service animal. Not an emotional support animal, but a service animal. I'm going to look into a genet or coatimundi for my next service animal. Dogs just make me too nervous.
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LostAlien
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To my knowledge cats can be trained as service animals but I haven't done this myself yet. They can be trained to walk on a harness and stuff like that but training is very different for a cat than training for a dog. A cat has to want to do it, must like people a lot and on top of this be socialized intensively during early kittenhood (so that if something strange but not dangerous happens it is less afraid).

When I say from early kittenhood, I mean if you're getting a kitten from a breeder they'll probably need to do a little of the training. Cats can be trained when a bit older but they can prefer their routine and can get distressed by a lot of change when older. Knowing signs of feline distress would also probably be helpful to your training because their distress displays are far more subtle than dogs.
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SuperTrouper
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My cat has taught herself to sense changes in my blood sugar (type I diabetic). Specifically, she wakes me up when I'm low. Invaluable.
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1000Knives
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



Well, I don't really know anything about Aspergers and service animals, so I'll leave that out. I've had cats all my life, but this is my first time having my own cat I picked out myself.

I'd recommend a Maine Coon. My cat is a Maine Coon, and she's the coolest. Maine Coons are very much like dogs, actually. They're from the Siberian/Norwegian forest cat lineage, and what happened was, obviously it's cold there, so they were inside much of the time, or on ships. Anyway, because of that, interactions with humans are bred into them, it seems. My Maine Coon is unlike any other cat I've had, in that I can call her, and she'll come to me a lot of the time, but everytime I call her, she at least acknowledges I called her. I've not given her too much specific training, but the ability to call and sorta "talk" with her is more than I've had with other cats. My cat, right, there's the whole book, "All Cats Have Asperers" but my cat seems to have cat Aspergers. She likes human contact, and just cannot stand being around other cats at all. When we first got her, she stayed at the opposite corner of the house of my 3 other cats, and would attack any other cat within like 5 feet of her. But she's just completely different in personality to any other cat I've owned ever.

Maine coons, basically, they're very doglike. They can be trained to fetch, roll over, etc. Here's a video of one being taken for a walk on a leash. They're my favorite cats.

Dogs would probably be a better service animal, as they're bred specifically for that sort of thing. Dogs are bred for being good at tasks humans give them, and cats never got bred for doing tasks really. The Siberian/Norwegian/Maine Coons, though, they're about the closest you're gonna get. As far as training them, I find them a bit easier than dogs, as first off, if you don't want them somewhere, you just pick them up and physically move them. Main thing for training them, you can't like, boss them around, you gotta be like, loving and stuff, but at the same time firm. But you can't like, play mind games as easy with a cat as you can to train a dog. Cats are more like a human, basically, in training. Even my cat, she knows her name, I can call her, and she acknowledges it's me, but 50% of the time she feels she has better stuff to do than see me. They're obviously not animals you can boss around, but you can make them cooperate with you. Oh, one other thing, my cat is too smart to actually play string with humans. She'll not hit the string when you're dangling it, then when you get bored and throw the string down, she'll play with it by herself for like 5 minutes. Also, routines, cats have routines like a lot of Aspergers people that seem weird. Like my cat only allows me to hold her by me throwing her over my shoulder almost. She will not tolerate being held in any other way, even though most other cats hate being held that way, she probably just got used to it from me, so you can't hold her any other way and have her be happy.

So yeah, Maine Coon or similar breed of cat. Watch the video of the cat on a leash for a walk outside, and see if you're cool with that. Oh, and Maine Coons, especially the males, tend to be huge. Mine's normal cat size, though, just with a slightly longer body than an average cat. Oh, starting young is helpful. My cat is like 7-10 years old, and when we first got her, she was in a cage for like 2 years, and when she got to my house, she hid everywhere and didn't want contact with anyone, but I guess I helped her break out of her shell or whatever, she loves people now, especially me, but still is not a huge fan of cats. She's learned to not fight other cats anymore for getting within a few feet of her, but still she just likes being left alone.
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Callista
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amanda Baggs has a cat named Fey, who is a service animal. As far as I can know, Fey is mostly self-taught--she's just a very perceptive cat who understands her human friend very well.

Amanda even has a blog for Fey--
http://catswhoknowtheyarecats.wordpress.com/
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LostAlien
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These sites may be helpful to you.

http://www.thecatsite.com/Snips/252/Therapy-Cats.html
http://www.petsastherapy.org/
http://www.loveonaleash.org/
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Tamsin
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was told that only dogs and ponies are the only animals allowed to be legal service animals. Cats can be ESAs but have no legal service animal rights due to a bill or some such that was passed recently.
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bookworm285
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to everyone for the input!

I didn't realize they had actually changed the rules now to dogs and ponies. So my kitty will happily serve as an emotional support animal (much to his/her pleasure I'm sure!)
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ShaSha
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:45 pm    Post subject: Cats as Service Animals Reply with quote

I'm sorry that I'm just responding to this topic. I just discovered this site. I'm an adult with Asperger's and both of my sons (29+17) have it too. My younger son has 3 service animals that he rotates as service cats and I've trained 12 others for friends/classmates. I was fortunate enough to register them before the law changed, so they're grandfathered in as Service Animals. Now, felines must be registered as Emotional Support Animals. It makes a difference as to where they can legally go. Ours go everywhere, planes, hotels, movies, church, school, restaurants, malls, anywhere. The airlines can't charge extra like they do if you're carrying an animal onto the cabin of the plane and I don't have to keep them in a carrier during the flight. They have their little vests with their rockers "Service Animal" or "Service Animal In Training", their ID badges with their photos, the human's ID badges with our photos (as handlers or trainers) plus a pocket full of business cards that tell people what the animal's rights (and the disabled human they're with) are
The problem comes in when we're traveling and sitting next to, or near, someone with allergies to cats. I try to be considerate of others rights and usually the flight attendants will move them or us. When the other person is rude and hostile, we get moved up to first class. HA
All of the cats I've trained are Ragdolls. They're larger, sturdier, VERY SWEET and happy to sit in your lap all day while you pet them and tell them how special they are.
I just LOVE them and what they do for my son by keeping him focused in the here and now.
I should also mention that these are show cats and have reached 'Champion' status. At the shows, I have a stuffed Ragdoll that I put the vest on and put it on top of the show cages. It gets a lot of attention, so I can educate people about service cats and their uses. Many have written/emailed their representatives in the hopes the law will be changed back.
Good luck and don't give up on this. It is SO worth the effort.
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Tuttle
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish cats could still be service animals. I'd probably make my cat (who is an ESA) into a service animal if it was allowed, because she has the right temperament (I mean, she is an ESA) and she can alert me to my migraines, including the silent migraines.

The breed I've mostly looked at for this sort of things is Maine Coons (or other forest cats but those are the most common of those breeds). My cat is probably mostly Maine Coon, though she's a mutt-kitty, and she comes when called, doesn't hate wearing a harness, is incredibly good at cheering me up and interacting with me, is incredibly alert and incredibly intelligent.
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Rascal77s
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like bookworm hasn't been around for a while. I think he might have opted for a tiger as his service cat.
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Samara1991
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a cat that knows when I'm upset and will lay on my chest and purr. It really helps a lot.
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Sweetleaf
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably far easier said than done, and even impossible with some cats.
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