The idea of anyone being fearful of cats is difficult to imagine if one is a cat lover. However, suffering ailurophobia
(cat phobia) is more common than you might think. Unless treated, ailurophobia can limit a person's social life as he/she may not want to go to the home of someone who owns a cat. They may be afraid of going for a walk in case they come across a cat. The phobia can be treated, usually with help from a professional.
Names for cat phobia
Image by Marie Vonow
The most commonly used name for cat phobia is ailurophobia
. Ailouros is Greek for cat and phobus means fear or dread. Galeophobia
is another name and this also comes from the Greek language. Galemacr is another word for cats. The Spanish word for cats is gato and hence the word gatophobia
, yet another name for this phobia.
Causes of cat phobia
Many phobias stem from a frightening experience in childhood, especially the early years when a child feels most vulnerable. Cats do
have sharp teeth and claws and are capable of inflicting a nasty wound.
Cats have sharp teeth. Image courtesy of Pixabay
A child may have been bitten or scratched by a cat. Perhaps the wound became infected requiring a trip to the doctor and an injection or medication. The cat may have had an unpleasant personality and a tendency to scratch and bite.
A person may develop ailurophobia after seeing someone they are close to get bitten or scratched. Perhaps they saw footage of a vicious attack on television or the Internet.
Although I love cats I can understand a child being frightened by a cat under certain circumstances. There is a black cat that tends to stalk me when I take my chihuahua for a walk. I find this unnerving. It stares at us with its yellow eyes and I wouldn't be surprised if it pounced at my little dog. I could understand a child, especially a sensitive one, developing a phobia.
Black cats also have a reputation of being witches cats. This may cause fear in an imaginative and sensitive child. Image by Marie Vonow
If a child's main caregiver is frightened of cats, this fear can be passed on.
Symptoms of ailurophobia
The following can be symptoms of the phobia -
Effects of cat phobia on a person's life
If a person suffers ailurophobia it can limit their social life. They may avoid visiting anyone who has a cat and that is likely to include family members, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and people from social groups they belong to. Cats are a common pet and it is estimated 29% of Australian households own at least one cat.
Children may not want to go to the homes of their friends and avoid sleepovers. Their friends may not understand their fear.
Treatments for ailurophobia
Those who love their pet cat may not understand the fear others may have. Image courtesy of Pixabay
There are treatments for ailurophobia. A therapist may use one of the following or a combination :
Individual therapists will have their own approach and how they treat ailurophobia will depend on the individual patient.
If you know someone with ailurophobia try to understand their fear and don't ridicule them. Provide support and if they are unable to overcome their phobia, suggest they talk to their doctor and get a referral to a therapist who can work with them to cure this phobia.
239970 - 2023-07-18 04:46:28