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Ailurophobia is a type of specific phobia: the persistent, irrational fear of cats.[1] The name comes from the Greek αἴλουρος (ailouros), "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, seeing the staring eyes of a cat (cats have the tendency to stare at passers-by) cats in pictures and on television, and cat-like toys and cat-like fur. Big cats such as lions or tigers can also trigger the stimuli associated with a phobia.[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]

In the 1965 animated television special A Charlie Brown Christmas, the character Lucy lists a number of phobias to Charlie Brown and incorrectly states, "If you’re afraid of cats, you have ailurophasia."[4] The word-forming element "-phasia" is a scientific Greek suffix used to form the names of disorders and phenomena relating to words and speech, such as cryptophasia, aphasia, dysphasia, and schizophasia.[5]

In the 1988 anime City Hunter 2, despite his herculean physique, it was revealed that Umibozu has a fear of cats. In the 1989 anime Ranma 1/2 the character principal Ranma Saotome has fear of cats.

In the 2016 anime High School Fleet the character Mashiro Munetani has a fear of cats. In the 2017 anime Nyanko Days, the character Arashi Iketani has a fear of cats.

The title character in Big Nate suffers from ailurophobia. Robbie Jackson, played by Dean Gaffney, in the BBC soap opera EastEnders also suffers from this.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ London, Louis S. (January 1952). "Ailurophobia and ornithophobia: Cat phobia and bird phobia". The Psychiatric Quarterly. 26 (1-4): 365–371. doi:10.1007/BF01568473. PMID 14949213. 
  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 2097085Freely accessible. PMID 13824737. 
  4. ^ Schulz, Charles. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (PDF). Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School. Retrieved 2016-06-18. 
  5. ^ See -phasia at Wiktionary.

Further reading[edit]

  • Crawford, Nelson Antrim (1934). "Cats Holy and Profane". Psychoanalytic Review. 21: 168–179. Retrieved 9 April 2009.