Ailurophobia, also known as galeophobia or felinophobia is an irrational fear from cats.
The condition is a subtype of a greater psychological disorder, zoophobia, which is a fear from animals in general.
Similar to cynophobia, “ailurophobia” usually develops from a childhood trauma of being attacked by a cat or observing someone being attacked by a feline.
A different form of “ailurophobia” comes in a superstitious shape, rendering the sufferers frightened by the “malevolent spirit” of a black cat.
This kind of superstition, however lives on in folklore and popular traditions.
The term was first used in around 1905 and is comprised of the Greek words ailuros, meaning cat, and –phobia, meaning fear.
The condition is of biological origin, as evidence supports that the Australopithecus, a hominid ancestor of H. Sapiens, the human race, was preyed upon by large felines, the Dinofelis.
This had rendered hominids, like ourselves afraid of large cats, as they pose a predatory threat.
Spread and Usage
“Ailurophobia” has been featured and depicted in popular culture for centuries.
From the Edgar Allan Poe’s novel, The Black Cat, to the A Charlie Brown Christmas special to even the Elder Scrolls games, the condition is presented to a wider audience.
Apart from those, there are many people living in the world, with an extreme fear of cats, defined by an unfortunate childhood encounter.
In fact, over 36% of zoophobiacs are afraid of either dogs or cats.
- Hill’s Pet – Understanding Ailurophobia: The Fear of Cats