The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
In May of 2021 after my freshman year of college ended, I decided an emotional support animal may benefit me greatly. After talking to my therapist and my mom, as well as doing some local looking, I brought my ESA Kiwi home with me.
I’ve lived with cats all my life, but one agreement my mom and I settled on was that Kiwi would be wholly my responsibility. This meant that I would be paying for vet visits, food, toys, and any other necessities she would need. I took this very seriously, and was determined to prove to my mother that I was capable of taking care of a cat as well as myself. After almost a year of having Kiwi, I’m confident that I can efficiently take care of her, but not without a few bumps in the road. Taking care of an ESA has taught me a lot of different things, both about myself and about being a pet-owner alone for the first time.
One of the first things I learned about owning an ESA is that they are expensive. I got a lot of Kiwi’s essentials (toys, food, litter box, etc.) before I brought her home, and that order alone cost me over $200. This isn’t counting monthly expenses for what I need to get repeatedly or vet visits to ensure that she was vaccinated before bringing her to school. The good thing is that a lot of these expenses are ones you only pay once or twice a year (unless you love pampering your pet like I do). I’ve found that I don’t mind paying for any of these items because I know it brings comfort to my pet, and in turn, brings me peace of mind.
I’ve also learned that your emotional support animal may come to rely on you as well. Because I got Kiwi during the pandemic, we were around each other super frequently. I’ve been working during the time I’ve had her, so we are able to be separated from each other for periods of time without being distressed, but it’s definitely evident that we missed each other by the end of the day.
My ESA has become one of my best friends. I know, I know—she’s just a cat. Kiwi has helped me through a lot of hard times, though. She sticks by my side when I’m sick and cheers me up when I’m sad. She also brings joy to a lot of my friends, as well as strangers who see me going by with her carrier. (The amount of times I’ve seen other college students light up when they see Kiwi in her carrier is uncountable).
I really do believe that getting an ESA was one of the best decisions I could have made for my mental health. Kiwi is definitely expensive and time-consuming, but I love having a companionship that’s pretty simple to maintain. I love traveling with my little pal, and I’m excited to see where our years of journeying together take us!