Although cats are one of our favorite companions and have lived with us for centuries, there are certain individuals who feel an intense fear of them.
It may seem strange that there are people who feel terrified by these animals, especially considering that it is proven that they provide us with numerous benefits for our health. However, this disorder is more common than we think.
If you are one of those people we talked about, do not worry, your fear is called ailurophobia or phobia of cats and here are some tips to try to overcome it.
In order to combat this fear, we must first think about why we have it and what could have caused it.
As with the fear of dogs, many people feel a strong fear when they are around a domestic or stray cat because of a bad experience with a feline in the past. You may have been bitten or scratched by a cat when you were little, and that particular moment caused the development of ailurophobia.
Another possible cause may be the influence of your environment, specifically your parents and those closest to you. Many parents do not want their children around animals, and in this case, cats. The fact that from a young age they tell us to «stay away from cats» or «beware of cats» can lead to a fearful or rejecting attitude towards these animals.
On the other hand, some people develop this disorder for no apparent reason. There are those who despise cats for the simple fact of never having had contact with one or directly do not appreciate domestic animals.
Symptoms of ailurophobia
The most common symptoms of ailurophobia in people are:
Extreme and irrational fear (can also be triggered by a thought or image of a cat)
Fight-flight response in the presence of a cat, idea or thought of it, that is, trying to avoid the situation that the person considers threatening.
Also avoid places where cats are or can be found. For example, not accepting the invitation to a friend’s house because he has a feline.
A great discomfort and anxiety in the presence of a cat, thought or idea.
Realizing that fear is irrational but not being able to control it.
Hypervigilance and extreme nervousness at the thought of meeting a cat.
Panic attacks with signs such as agitation, shortness of breath, sweating and clammy hands, racing pulse, etc.
Dizziness, nausea, and intestinal discomfort.
Tips to overcome the fear of cats
The treatment of this phobia is no different than that of other phobias, so we recommend that you go to a professional who can help you and guide you through this process.
A therapist is perfect to help the person understand why they have developed this phobia and to be able to provide them with a series of tools that support overcoming it.
It is important that we ask ourselves some questions to work with our emotions; Think about when the phobia appeared and what tensions or feelings you suffer when you approach a cat.
In addition, there are some tips that can help and support therapy.
Find out well about cats: many times, misinformation or ignorance can cause that particular fear. Something you can do to feel better is to expand your knowledge about felines, about their behavior and how we should deal with them.
Find out more about them in a safe environment: if you want to be a little closer to them to see how you feel, we recommend doing it in a safe environment and preferably outdoors. Thus, in case you get overwhelmed, you will not be in a closed place with the animal. It is important that you do it when you feel that you are ready and focused. Try to take control of your nerves and clear your mind.
In case the fear is suffered by children, we recommend that you make them come into contact with the animal little by little. You can start by reading children’s stories starring cats (The Aristocats, for example) or watching movies or documentaries about cats as a family.
In conclusion, the more reinforcement and positive experiences you have with cats, the easier it will be for you to overcome your fears of them. Although these types of situations take time, we encourage you because with patience, help and enthusiasm, any fear can be overcome.