Black cats have suffered most from a fear of cats - photo cobalt123 under creative commons
Fear of cats is due to an underlying admiration of the effectiveness of the cat as a hunter and survivor. This admiration has resulted in the cat being worshiped and persecuted throughout history in almost equal measure. That is my theory for what it is worth!
Medically speaking it is called Ailurophobia and it can be treated. It is an irrational fear of cats. But is it irrational? As I said we recognize the cats effectiveness at hunting. The fear might not be irrational but it is completely unfounded certainly in relation to the domestic cat. In some cases it can arise out of a very distinct event as is the case with Jodie Foster when she was grabbed by a big cat during filming of the 1972 movie Napoleon And Samantha. However, I believe that there is an underlying fear as well.
The history of the domestic cat's relationship with humankind shows the wide spectrum of emotions that are invoked by this small companion animal. Even today people's responses are polarized. Some adore cats and some hat cats. I argue that people who hate cats have a fear of cats.
The Egyptians created a god out of the cat, Bastet, making sacrifices to her so she would bestow gifts of life and fertility. A recognition of the cats powers of survival. Ironically cats were sacrificed. The human can be very confused.
Cats have been buried beneath the corn fields to encourage a good crop and bricked up in walls of houses to ward off evil spirits and rodents. This latter superstition lasted until the 18th century and there are many houses in Europe in which the mummified remains of a cat can be found in wall spaces. Clearly in times past people thought the cat had some extraordinary powers even when dead!
There were and are still lots of superstitions involving the poor unsuspecting and innocent cat. The domestic cat was and still is the victim of these superstitions. Why did the cat have to be hurt or killed when people took action arising out of these superstitions? In the example of improving crops or warding off evil spirits in houses, why could not the cat be simply presented to the field or the house? In other words a cat could have occupied the area for a while. Does the underlying fear of cats by some people and particularly superstitious people mean that they have to kill the cat to work the cat into the superstition?
Is the continuing popularity of sport hunting in some parts of the world based on satisfying the need to kill an an animal that frightens? Is sport hunting, partly due to a fear of cats?
The superstitions surrounding black cats are no doubt centered on a fear of cats. The color black invokes darkness and darkness can be frightening. This association resulted in the black being persecuted because of being in league with the devil. If the black cat crossed your path in some countries and places this was thought to bring good luck as the evil had passed by without harming you. In some places during Halloween cruel people hurt black cats. This really smacks of an underlying fear of cats particularly black ones.
Fear of cats is actually an extension of a fear or anxiety about almost anything that possesses the human race. Many humans are frightened. Cats are an outlet for that fear. These are my personal views.