Ailurophobia is a type of specific phobia. It is a persistent, irrational fear of cats. It comes from the Greek αἴλουρος (aílouros), "cat" and φόβος (phóbos), "fear". A synonym is galeophobia, from the Greek γαλῆ (galê), meaning "polecat" or "weasel".
However, as galeophobia can also mean a fear of sharks (from the Greek word for a shark which had markings resembling those of a weasel), the term ailurophobia creates less potential for confusion. Other synonyms include felinophobia, elurophobia, and gatophobia.
People who suffer from ailurophobia may fear physical contact, such as bites and scratches, and may also fear the perceived supernatural nature of cats as well as those depicted in the literary works as Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat."
Like all fears and phobias, ailurophobia is created by the unconscious mind 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: purr of the cat, the sight of a real life cat, the thought that a cat that might attack one when one is outside, 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. Advice can be obtained from 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 cat toy and finally a kitten.
A noted sufferer was Napoleon Bonaparte. Other sufferers may have includedAlexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Jose Lamas, Mussolini, HitlerTemplate:/Fv, La Toya Jackson, and Sharon Cheah.
Ranma Saotome of the anime Ranma 1/2 suffers from ailurophobia due to his father Genma's training at a young age learning the "Neko-Ken" or "Cat-Fist Technique". Shampoo usually takes advantage of Ranma's fear of cats for her own benefit.