The fear of cats is a common phobia. It is also called felinophobia, felinephobia, and ailurophobia. The word “felinophobia” comes from the Latin words for cat (feles) and fear (phobos). However, not all people who have this phobia are afraid of cats themselves; some are just afraid because they believe that someone with this disorder will eventually come into contact with one.
The symptoms of felinophobia can vary in severity depending on the person’s situation or environment, but it usually includes extreme anxiety when faced with a cat or even an object that resembles a cat (like a toy cat). This could include seeing pictures, hearing stories, or reading about them during your childhood.
People who suffer from the specific phobia of felinophobia may also avoid places where cats are likely to be, such as shelters or homes with pet cats. In some cases, the person may even go out of their way to avoid anything that has to do with cats.
What is the Cause of Felinophobia?
There is no single exact cause of felinophobia (or necessarily any type of animal phobias), but it is often linked to a traumatic event involving a cat, such as being scratched or bitten.
This irrational fear of cats can also be caused by witnessing someone else’s horror of cats or simply developing a fear through observation. In some cases, it may be due to a general fear of animals (zoophobia) or a specific fear of small animals (microphobia).
It is also worth noting that people with astraphobia (fear of thunder and lightning) are more likely to develop felinophobia, as thunder can scare cats and cause them to run around erratically, triggering the person’s anxiety or cat phobia.
What Are Some of the Symptoms of Felinophobia?
As with any phobia, the symptoms of felinophobia can range from mild to severe and can be exhibited through physical and psychological symptoms. Some people may only feel slight discomfort when they are around cats, while others may experience a full-blown panic attack or excessive fear. The most common anxiety symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty speaking or swallowing
- A feeling of choking
- Chest pain
- Hot flashes or chills
Not only can the physical symptoms be debilitating, but the mental ones or emotional symptoms can be just as bad. People with felinophobia often feel like they are going crazy and may even avoid social situations for fear of having a panic attack in public.
Finally, people who experience felinophobia do their best to avoid cats to minimize their risk of having those feelings or fears trigger them.
Treatment of Felinophobia
The good news is that felinophobia is treatable. The first step is to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in phobias and anxiety disorders. They will be able to help you understand your fear and come up with a treatment plan.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for phobias. CBT helps by slowly exposing the person to their fear in a safe and controlled environment. This could involve certain activities like looking at pictures of cats, watching videos of cats, or even interacting with real cats under the supervision of a professional.
The goal is to eventually desensitize the person to their fear of cats and help them realize that cats are not as dangerous as they seem.
Medications may also be prescribed in severe cases of phobias to help with the anxiety, intense fear, and panic attacks. Beta-blockers can be used to help control the physical symptoms, while antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be helpful for the mental ones.
Finally, other treatments like breathing and relaxation techniques or therapy can be very useful in managing the symptoms of felinophobia. For example, learning how to control your breathing can help prevent a panic attack and make it easier to cope with the anxiety.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy can also help reduce stress and anxiety levels (and is also good for your mental health).
I Think I Have Felinophobia. What’s Next?
If you think you might have felinophobia, the first step is to see your doctor. They can rule out any medical conditions that may be causing your symptoms and refer you to a mental health professional if needed.
From there, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you start, the better your chances are of overcoming your fear. With the help of a professional, you can learn to live a normal and healthy life despite your phobia or any previous diagnosis.
A professional can also help you understand your trigger symptoms, which are the things that set off your anxiety or panic. Once you know what these are, you can start to avoid them or work on coping strategies to deal with them in your daily life.
It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone when it comes to this specific phobia. Felinophobia is a common phobia, and there are many resources available to help you. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you’re struggling with this specific phobia related to a fear of cats.
If you would like more information on felinophobia: fear of cats, or other specific phobias, please consider the following resources. They’re easier to read than most peer-reviewed studies:
- The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne
- Phobias: Fighting the Fear by Helen Saul
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: The Complete Guide to Overcoming Anxiety, Depression, Fear, Worries, Anger and Panic by Seth Adams
- Anxiety Disorders Association of America website
Felinophobia is a very common and natural phobia (unlike, say, apotemnophobia) that affects many people’s mental health. If you are one of them, don’t worry! There are steps you can take to help heal your fear of cats or at the very least help you deal with these types of mental disorders.
The first step would be recognizing that felinophobia isn’t bad or abnormal; in fact, many people have an irrational fear or extreme anxiety (phobias) of something like spiders, heights, clowns, etc., so just because yours happens to be cats doesn’t make it any different than anyone else’s.
Next, we recommend trying exposure therapy and desensitizing yourself with gradual contact with small pets such as hamsters or gerbils by petting them on occasion during their normal day-to-day activities.
If you can do this without having a negative reaction, try moving on to slightly larger animals like rabbits before eventually making your way up to cats. Finally, it’s important to understand that not all cats are the same; some may be lazy and docile while others are energetic and playful. So, as cat lovers would say, don’t let your fear of one type of cat dictate how you feel about them all – give every kitty a chance!