Aliurophobia: Fear of cats

The Aliurophobia: While cats often have a reputation for being somewhat selfish and self-serving, especially when food is involved, a scientific study has shown that they love humans more than we used to think.

But regardless of whether we like cats more or less, some people experience an irrational fear of these animalsa fear that causes them great anxiety and makes them try to avoid their presence at all costs.

this disorder known as aliurophobia or cat phobia.

A phobia is an extreme, irrational, and persistent fear of a particular object, activity, or situation. It belongs to the group of anxiety disorders, in which exposure to the feared stimulus can cause different symptoms such as nervousness, anxiety, sweating, tremors, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, etc. The phobia towards cats is totally irrational, and although a cat does not represent a real danger for these people, the mere presence of it can trigger this strong involuntary reaction.

The fear of cats that can come to suffer (it is the one we deal with in this article) is persistent, the one that comes from within us, without knowing why, and that we can feel it, not only when they are near or we see from afar, but even seeing photos or videos. The latter can be very common, since cats are widely photographed and today with social networks and the internet it is very common to find many images and videos of cats.

Ailurophobia is a type of phobia that normally people who suffer from it tend to hide it, because they are usually embarrassed, or they are afraid of suffering some symptomatology if they see or cross a cat. Add to this that the cat is currently being introduced into homes as a great companion animal, since given the fast pace of life that is usually led by being more independent animals, you can enjoy their company without being so dependent of time from us.


  • It can be the case of people who have never been related to animals, and in this specific case with cats. Then we are facing a root that comes from the fear of the unknown. Of people who prefer not to approach cats, because not knowing their behavior they have fear of catssome may even despise them or in milder cases simply walk away if they see one.
  • Another case that we can find ourselves with would be that of the old belief that cats bring bad luck. But from here we want to make it very clear that this has no scientific basis, therefore it makes no sense. To think that a black cat can bring bad luck are simply baseless stories. This means that even in some outdated cultures people sacrifice them, something really unbelievably heinous. And although it sounds like the middle ages, today it is not surprising to see how many people cross the sidewalk if they see a black cat approaching them.
  • The last origin and it is the one that really worries us as psychologists, are the people who have a real terror of cats, those who suffer from a serious ailurophobia either fear of cats. This comes to affect them in their lives, in their day to day, and they are associated with serious symptoms such as excessive panic attacks or tachycardia, which we will explain in more detail later.


emotional reactions

  • Aversion and disgust towards cats.
  • Fear can make you avoid visiting friends or relatives who have this animal.
  • Fear is intense and often capable of blocking people
  • It is also common for them to feel anger when they perceive that others do not understand their anguish and fear.

cognitive reactions (thoughts)

  • Inability to think of anything else when they have a cat in front of them. They can only focus on the animal.
  • Thoughts can become paranoid by imagining a thousand everyday situations in which a cat can appear. Walking down the street or entering certain houses is something distressing.
  • Sometimes, just hearing a meow from the street is enough to think that they can come for them.

Physiological symptoms

  • Tachycardia, dizziness, sweating…
  • Chest pain, choking sensation.
  • Stomach ache.
  • Panic attacks are also a reaction that can appear with the fear of cats.


The indicated treatment for ailurophobia consists of a combination of psychotherapies and medication. Exposure therapy is an effective therapy for these types of phobias; the therapist guides the person through regular exhibitions involving the appearance of cats (imaginatively or face-to-face, depending on the intensity of the patient’s emotional reactions).

The therapist will assess the intensity of the fear and the goal will be to teach the person to relax and control their breathing while facing the feared stimulus, in this case cats. As the person gets used to the presence of animals, over time they end up controlling the symptoms of anxiety.

Another way to approach ailurophobia is cognitive restructuring, a technique used in cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. The objective of this therapeutic procedure is modify thoughts and beliefs irrational that lead the person to behave as he does.

The therapist, through Socratic dialogue and confrontation, helps the patient to replace negative thoughts with more realistic and positive ones (eg debunking the false belief that black cats are unlucky).

Finally, medications can be used in the most serious cases, when the person suffering from ailurophobia has panic attacks and extreme anxiety reactions that disable them in their daily lives. Antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs are commonly used. In the following article you will find the pharmacological treatment for panic attacks.