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Ailurophobia is a type of specific animal phobia: the persistent, irrational fear of cats.[1] It comes from the Greek αἴλουρος (aílouros), "cat" and φόβος (phóbos), "fear".

Synonyms include felinophobia,[2] elurophobia,[2] and gatophobia.[2]


Like all fears and phobias, ailurophobia is created by the unconscious mind as a protective mechanism. This phobia could be obtained by a real-life scare of some kind that has to do with cats and emotional trauma. Ailurophobia can also be triggered by seeing someone else experiencing trauma. As long as the negative impact on the unconscious mind is strong enough, one will automatically sense negative emotional feelings to act as a reminder of "danger" when one sees a cat again.

The actual phobia manifests itself in different ways. Some sufferers experience it almost all the time, others just in response to direct stimuli. Some possible situations that can trigger the fear of cats are: purring, seeing a cat in real life, the possibility of a cat attack, the thought of meeting a cat in the dark, cats in pictures and on television, and cat-like toys and cat-like fur.[3]


There are many ways to treat ailurophobia; treatment is usually carried out by a psychiatrist or other therapy specialist.

One strongly motivated patient was able to recover by slowly becoming accustomed to cat fur by first touching varying types of velvet, then becoming accustomed to a toy kitten, and finally a live kitten which they subsequently adopted.[3]

See also


  1. Ailurophobia
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 A lexicon of lunacy: metaphoric malady, moral responsibility, and psychiatry De Thomas Szasz, pagina 68
  3. 3.0 3.1 Freeman, H. L., D. C. Kendrick (August 1960). A case of cat phobia. Treatment by a method derived from experimental psychology. BMJ 2 (5197): 497–502.

Further reading

  • London, Louis S. (1952). Ailurophobia and ornithophobia. Psychiatric Quarterly 26 (1): 365–371.
  • Crawford, Nelson Antrim (1934). Cats Holy and Profane. Psychoanalytic Review 21: 168–179.

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