what causes the fear of cats, and what is the fear of cats called?
Cats phobia is also called ailurophobia and gatophobia.
Cats phobia is less common than dog phobia, perhaps because cats are often smaller than dogs, and more importantly, they don’t attack without provocation. Most dogs don’t attack humans, but some do. Around here, dogs with collars walk around freely, and every once in a while you run into an aggressive dog. I’ve been barked at and attacked.
Why are some people afraid of cats? There are several causes for cats phobia.
A person who was scratched as a child may develop an irrational fear of cats. Small children like pulling tails, and cats don’t like being rough handled. Childhood trauma can go a long way, which is why some grown people are still afraid of cats.
Fear of predators has kept the human species alive long enough to product offspring. Cats are miniature tigers and lions, with sharp teeth and nails as sharp as razor blades. Felines are natural hunters, and humans used to be prey to larger predators. Which is why some people are still afraid of cats even now, millions of generations later.
Fear of pain
Cats often paw humans playfully, which can inflict minor pain if they don’t fold their nails. Cats bite playfully. Cats knead, which can also hurt slightly. And some cats have bad lap manners, not folding their nails when sitting on a human’s lap. Ouch.
Kittens climb on humans, digging their nails into the clothes and underneath, into the skin. My Hazelnut did it to me all the time when she was a kitten.
A cat who’s wary of strangers may hiss at a stranger who walks into the room, if the cat has nowhere to run.
Around here, it’s very common to see a cat leaping out of the garbage can when you throw your plastic bag in the can. One can had ran over my brother’s foot when he was a child, and he was wearing sandals, so he suffered a very minor scratch. This is why some people are afraid of cats when they throw the garbage, and those with cats gatophobia are afraid to walk near garbage cans, especially at night.
One of the reasons people might be afraid of cats, is because cats’ eyes glow in the dark, and some people find it spooky.
Cats like to hide
Some people might feel cats are ambushing them because they hide in the bushes and watch them, and some humans feel uneasy about been seen without being able to see.
Also, cats like strange hiding places. Once, I put my hand in the laundry basket, and a black paw appeared from under the clothes and scratched me with the speed of a bullet. It was my cat Angel.
Cats are unpredictable
A human can walk home at night, and suddenly a cat shoots from under the bush an inch away. It’s the sudden movement and the sound of snapping leaves that triggers fear.
Fear of disease
One of the reasons why some people are afraid of cats is because they think cats can carry disease. This fear has no base in reality. Cats almost never have rabies. And even if they do, it’s not airborne. They’d have to bite you first. There are other diseases you can catch from cats, but they’re not life threatening, and they’re not airborne. You won’t get sick from just walking by a feral cat.
Some people believe cats bring bad luck, especially the black ones. I have a black cat living in my house right now, and had a black cat before that. I don’t believe they’re bad luck, but some people do. Which is why some people are afraid of black cats in particular.
Irrational fear of felines can put a lot of strain on a person living in a place that has plenty of cats. There are many feral cats around here. If you fear cats, you better not leave your house. They’re all over the place.
People who are afraid of cats can make life difficult for cats’ owners. My neighbor in the other entrance of the building screams at me if she sees my cats peeking out through the bars. People harass cats’ feeders in parks.
How to overcome ailurophobia
Learning about cats’ body language can help. Once a person understands cats, he knows where he stands with the cat. Learning feline psychology is a good idea, because then a person suffering from gatophobia knows which situations to avoid and hot not to stress a cat.
There are steps to overcome an irrational fear of cats, like standing at a distance from a cat and then getting closer one step at a time.
And there’s hypnotherapy.
I always feel fear when I force a pill down one of my cats’ throat, or when putting them in the cage to take to the vet. They usually attack me when I do that. But this isn’t an irrational fear of cats. You can really expect to get hurt when you do that, and I had the scratches on my arms to prove it.
People who are allergic to cats can fear being near them, but that’s also understandable. You can see why people suffering from asthma are afraid of cats, if this is the trigger for an attack.
And then some people who weren’t afraid of cats were scared of my cat Angel. He was a huge black cat with slanted eyes, green tinted with yellow. He had a mean look in his eyes. When the pizza delivery guy had ended up at my apartment by mistake, he told me my cat looks at him like he wants to kill him.
Do you know someone who suffers from gatophobia?
And do you fear forcing a pill down your cat’s throat? Do you feel the fear and do it anyway, or do you ask for help? Or maybe you’re calm about it and don’t worry about a few scratches?
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