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Cats intimidate opponents by arching their backs, raising their fur, turning sideways, and hissing: sometimes acting this way spreads panic amongst human beings that are highly sensitive towards them. This causes ailurophobia.

Ailurophobia is a type of specific phobia: the persistent, irrational fear of cats.[1] It comes from the Greek αἴλουρος (aílouros), "cat" and φόβος (phóbos), "fear". Other names include felinophobia,[2] elurophobia,[2] and cat phobia.[2]


The phobia manifests itself in different ways. For most people it is less about fear than about loathing, similar to the reaction many people have to snakes or rats. Some people experience it almost all the time, others just in response to direct stimuli. Some possible situations that can trigger the loathing of cats are: hearing purring, seeing a cat in real life, imagining the possibility of a cat touching or rubbing against one, 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 the patient subsequently adopted.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ailurophobia
  2. ^ a b c Szasz, Thomas. A lexicon of lunacy: metaphoric malady, moral responsibility, and psychiatry. p. 68. 
  3. ^ a b 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. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.824.497. PMC 2097085. PMID 13824737. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 

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