Categories: Ailurophobia

Granny is frightened of cat pictures. I discuss possible cause and cure.

This 55-year-old grand mother, Jean Diffenthal, is so fearful of domestic and feral cats (not lions and tigers) that she is scared of pictures of cats and songs mentioning cats. She won’t like the new Cats Movie then will she? Sorry I am being facetious. But, in short, it is a crippling fear of felines. She struggles to leave her home because she might bump into one. Her intense fear of cats (ailurophobia) is rare.

Ailurophobic granny — Credit: SWNS:SOUTH WEST NEWS SERVICE

She says that cats ‘quietly dart about’ and that there is something in their eyes. She thinks that they are skin and bone:

“I’ve never touched a cat because they look like they’re all skin and bone which freaks me out.”

That statement might give us a clue as to why she suffers from ailurophobia. Perhaps she had a bad experience with a skinny feral cat as a child. She comes from South Africa where there are many feral cats living a harsh life and I am sure many are skin and bone.

There are two classic ways that ailurophobia can develop. A child plays with a fluffy kitten expecting the kitten to behave like a child’s toy. It does not and scratches her badly. This might be a shock to the child which mentally scares her into adulthood.

A second way that a child might develop ailurophobia is if their mother believes that old wives tale that domestic cats smother and kill infants in their cots. She comes into the nursery and screams at the cat to get out. The young child learns that domestic cats are monsters to be feared. It is not uncommon for mothers to keep domestic cats from nurseries as I understand it.

This would be an early association between cats and panic which may leave a mental mark in later life.

Studies indicate that women are more prone to suffer from this affliction than men. Dr Morris suggests that this might be because there is a sexual element to the condition. The cat is seen as a symbol of sexuality. Repressed sexuality may be reflected in this intense fear of cats.

The cure for cat phobia

The cure is straightforward but difficult for the ‘patient’. It requires a series of slow step-by-step desensitisation sessions. At the outset the suffer is presented with things that are remotely feline. In the case of Jean Diffenthal, this would be tricky because even pictures of cats cause a fearful reaction. I guess you’d have to go right back to basics and acclimatise her to something remotely connected to cats at the beginning and build from there.

During the process a kitten is placed in a small, secure care and the cage left in the person’s room at the far side. The cat is moved closer and closer. The longer the sufferer spends in the company of cats the better.

It may take months of therapy but eventually with patience the cat phobia disappears.


Love Island snowflake lads terrified of tabby cat who wanders onto set

Love Island is a British reality show that I never watch. It is a show about body image with brains ...
Read More

United States: there are nearly 7 times as many cat haters as there are dog haters

Surveys of attitudes in the United States show that there are nearly 7 times as many cat haters as there ...
Read More

Woman learned to love cats through a desperation to get rid of mice

This is a story about a woman, Jacqueline Lamb Jackson, who was desperate to get rid of mice in her ...
Read More

The difference between ‘ailurophobe’ and ‘cat hater’

There is an important difference between the meaning of the word 'ailurophobe' and the phrase 'cat hater'. Some people believe ...
Read More

Is fear of cats hereditary?

Is fear of cats hereditary? Or better put: is a fear of cats inherited? I chose the former title because ...
Read More

Woman suffers from acute ailurophobia (fear of cats) (video)

A CCTV camera picked up this interesting event. It's in an industrial kitchen in South Africa. A black lady is ...
Read More

People Who Hate Cats Are Scared of Cats

The facts of the matter is that people who hate cats are in fact often scared of cats which is ...
Read More
Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Recent Posts

Russian stray cat survives minus 27 degrees Celsius

Below is a stitched together narrative from many Twitter tweets in Russian (translated by Google)…

1 hour ago

How many cats are there in the UK 2020?

You have to specify the date in order to accurately state the number of cats…

6 hours ago

4 reasons why you might think that your pet is like you

I can think of four possible reasons why you might think that your cat or…

9 hours ago

Two steps in detecting and removing cat urine

Background Sometimes you suspect that either your cat or an intruding cat has sprayed urine…

21 hours ago

How do I stop my cat scratching the carpet and furniture?

There are three points to make in response to the question in the title. The…

22 hours ago

4 books you might buy a cat lover this Christmas

Of course, there are more than four books that you might buy a cat lover…

1 day ago