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is a type of specific phobia
A specific phobia is a generic term for any kind of anxiety disorder that amounts to an unreasonable or irrational fear related to exposure to specific objects or situations...
: the persistent, irrational fear of cats
The cat , also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felids and felines, is a small, usually furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests...
. It comes from the Greek (aílouros
), "cat" and (phóbos
Synonyms include felinophobia, elurophobia, and gatophobia.
Like all fears and phobias, ailurophobia is created by the unconscious mind
The unconscious mind is a term coined by the 18th century German romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge...
as a protective mechanism. This phobia could be obtained by a real-life scare of some kind that has to do with cats and emotional trauma. Ailurophobia can also be triggered by seeing someone else experiencing trauma. As long as the negative impact on the unconscious mind is strong enough, one will automatically sense negative emotional feelings to act as a reminder of "danger" when one sees a cat again.
The actual phobia manifests itself in different ways. Some sufferers experience it almost all the time, others just in response to direct stimuli. Some possible situations that can trigger the fear of cats are: purring, seeing a cat in real life, the possibility of a cat attack, the thought of meeting a cat in the dark, cats in pictures and on television, and cat-like toys and cat-like fur.
There are many ways to treat ailurophobia; treatment is usually carried out by a psychiatrist or other therapy specialist.
One strongly motivated patient was able to recover by slowly becoming accustomed to cat fur by first touching varying types of velvet, then becoming accustomed to a toy kitten, and finally a live kitten which they subsequently adopted.