Cute cuddly cats or the cause of intense anxiety and fear?
Does the sight of cats cause your heartrate to increase?
Does meowing make you feel like you feel uneasy?
Does a conversation about cats send a cold shiver down your spine?
Is it difficult for you to express why you are never comfortable around cats?
It must be hard dealing with a fear that people around you do not seem to understand. It is even worse if you encounter questions like, why are people scared of cats? Many will probably think you are overreacting when you try to explain yourself. If this is the case with you, you may suffer from a fear called ailurophobia.
What is ailurophobia the fear of?
Ailurophobia is an irrational fear of cats. While phobias like hydrophobia are common, ailurophobia is rare. This, however, should not have you worried. Through identifying the causes and adjusting your lifestyle, you will successfully get over it.
What Causes Ailurophobia?
To understand the causes of ailurophobia, you must take a trip down memory lane. If you jog your memory enough, you will probably find an unpleasant experience with a cat. Could be a bite, or a scratch, or anything. Did you ever witness a cat biting a friend when you were younger? If you can’t remember any of these happening to you, your case is unique. You belong to a group of people whose phobia is not triggered by any negative experiences with cats.
Who is Most Likely to Develop Ailurophobia?
Since most phobias develop from a young age, children experience this extreme fear more than adults. This is because adults can easily tell that a cat is harmless even when it turns aggressive, unlike children.
On the other hand, adults who suffer from ailurophobia mainly developed it as children. Women are at higher risk of developing the fear of cats than men because women have a natural fear of animals.
Everything You Need to Know About Ailurophobia
Have you ever found yourself taking time to think hard about cats? If you are worried about how you might spot a cat somewhere or how a cat would attack you, it is time you addressed the fear once and for all. If you also have done everything to stop panicking about cats but are still going through it months later, it is time to seek medical help and therapy.
If you avoid going to places because of cats or deliberately avoid visiting people that keep cats as pets, it means you are ailurophobic. Developing extreme anxiety whenever you see cats means you need to get help.
You can get over ailurophobia with some mental and lifestyle adjustments. This is referred to as ailurophobia treatment.
Symptoms of Ailurophobia
The main sign of ailurophobia is experiencing intense fear when around cats or just by thinking about them. As an ailurophobe, you will be very uncomfortable when around people that like talking about cats. You will or have probably gotten all panicky after imagining that a cat was in sight. Symptoms are divided into two as listed below;
● Spending too much time thinking about cats.
● Extreme cat fear when you hear sounds that cats are likely to make.
● Panicking when thinking about cats.
● Having images of cats flash through your mind often.
● Experiencing fictional or imaginary encounters with cats.
● Upset stomach.
● Pain in the chest.
● Increased heartbeat.
● Difficulties in breathing.
Yes, this fear can be daunting and can impair your daily functioning, it is treatable. You can try some self-help techniques, and if everything fails – you can seek professional help as well.
What You Can Do To Help Yourself.
After you have established ailurophobia causes, it is time to tackle it. You would be surprised to realize that cat fear is somewhat irrational and treatable with some adjustments. Cats are not as harmful as you have been thinking. You don’t have to suffer as an ailurophobe. Here are a few techniques that will help you:
Write Down Precisely What You Can’t Stand About Cats
Break this down into specific information like what meowing makes you feel. If your cause of cat fear is apparent, identify it and write it down too. This will go a long way in ailurophobia treatment.
Talk to Others About What You Feel
Don’t torture yourself as an ailurophobe. Talk to people you trust and confide in. It may be a good idea to talk to someone who has cats at home. Confess to them why you don’t visit their house as well. Let them know what cats precisely make you feel. Letting this fear out is therapy in itself. You can initiate the conversation with a question like, how do I stop being scared of cats?
Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and basic breathing exercises just before you step out of the house are a good way to control your fears. This will allow you to distract yourself from what you will encounter out there. Focus on happy things, events you are looking forward to, and envision a rather productive day.
Look at yourself in the mirror every day and do self-affirming. Tell yourself how much you don’t have the fear of cats or anything. Speak out loudly against any obsessive thoughts you could be having. After some time, you will notice that the self-affirming reflects on your everyday life.
Try Spending Time With Cats
You can start from somewhere. You can choose to watch a movie or an animation that shows the warm side of cats. By the time the movie is over, you will be feeling a lot better. Go to the next stage and watch an actual documentary on cats.
After you can watch a cat documentary without cringing too much, try visiting a friend that pets cats. Force yourself to look at the cat. Go ahead and hold it. This will be the last course of self-help you need. At this point, you are ailurophobia-free.
This could be an option when all else fails. If you are diagnosed with the phobia of cats, desensitization therapy can help you. It is a standard treatment. The ailurophobic is exposed to the same animals they dread for a particular duration of time. After some time, they get used to the presence of these animals and get over their fears.
Use of Medication
There aren’t any known medicines for ailurophobia treatment. However, there are medicines to treat the short-term physical illnesses that come with the phobia of cats. These medications treat anxiety, increased heart rate, and stomach upsets.
Combined Therapy and Medication
You will have to combine therapy and medication to get over ailurophobia sooner. While medicines treat physical pains, therapy treatment ensures that the person with the phobia gets over it.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, allows patients to recognize the thought patterns that generate distress so they can reframe them. Although this approach will probably involve some cat exposure, you’ll be equipped enough to cope. This type of therapy alters thought patterns to change behaviors and moods. It lies on the premise that negative feelings or actions result from existing distorted thoughts or convictions.
The phobia of cats is very irrational as they are harmless. That one distressful incident you had with a cat was your first and last. Like all other pets, cats love to play. It is possible that the cat that scratched you was expressing itself, and the unexpected happened.
Once you have been diagnosed with ailurophobia, seeking professional help immediately and undergoing therapy is the sure way to go about recovery. You don’t have to underperform in your areas of productivity because of cat fear. You don’t have to stay home because you will most likely encounter a cat at the park.
Your recovery depends on you. It would be best if you did all it takes to ensure you respond well to treatment and therapy.