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Photo credit: DOROTHEA OLDANI VIA UNSPLASH

Rationalising my irrational fear of cats

Even looking for pictures for this article gave me nightmares.

Meagan Goh
Meagan Goh

Afraid of cats, but learning to be brave. Would rather live in a fairytale.


Published: 21 January 2021, 11:45 AM

I’ve always been afraid of cats ever since I was a child. There is just something about them that makes me cringe and feel itchy all over. 

There were many times where I took the longer route home just so that I can avoid walking through the park as it was home to three stray cats. 

Seeing how my irrational fear of the felines was affecting my routines, I thought it was a good idea to figure out my phobia and get to the root cause of why I was so afraid of them. 

As I did some research and reflection, I was surprised to find a number of possible reasons why I, and many others, have ailurophobia.

Cats are predators by nature

I’ve always known cats to be very defensive and even aggressive animals. I never really understood why until I researched that cats are actually predators by nature. 

Cats are the descendants of lions and tigers. That’s right, even your cute and cuddly domesticated kittens share about 95 per cent of the same DNA with the kings of the jungle and savannah. 

 

Whenever I see a cat now, I just think of a miniature lion or a tiger waiting to pounce at me. PHOTO CREDIT: FLICKR VIA PEXELS

 

Interestingly, my phobia of cats is not due to the fact that I’ve been harmed or attacked by one. Rather, I’m painfully aware of the physical harm they are capable of.

I recall a time when I saw a video of a stray cat pouncing on a lady as she was feeding it out of kindness. I also remember seeing a video of a cat hissing aggressively at its owner before scratching him. 

At this point, I’m already quivering with fear. I mean, this just shows that cats are capable of hurting anyone, even their owners. 

They are associated with villains in pop culture

Now that I think of it, most shows I’ve watched during childhood have portrayed cats as evil creatures. 

Remember the evil stepmother’s cat in Cinderella, or Kitty Galore who wanted to eliminate all dogs and take over the world in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore? Both characters had undeniably bad intentions in their respective movies. 

Not forgetting the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland – it might not have been evil but it sure was creepy. 

 

I hated Lucifer from Cinderella as a child and used to have nightmares of it. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/@LARAPERSI84

 

Could all of this really be a coincidence? Perhaps. But it definitely explains why people like myself have subconsciously associated cats with villains or villainous schemes since young. 

Of course not everyone thinks this way – my sister for one is pretty fond of cats. 

Come to think of it, she sometimes sends me ‘adorable’ pictures or videos of them and would always talk about having one as a pet although she knows I’m terrified of them. Definitely sus.

Their unpredictability is unnerving

I remember vividly of a time when I was in the park with my family and a cat just dashed out of nowhere in front of me and I screamed. I was still in primary school then and it took me a while to calm down afterwards. 

I don’t know why the cat was in such a hurry and where it was off to, but I do know I became more afraid of cats than I already was. 

It is not uncommon for these agile hunters to jump and make sudden movements. Coupled with their sharp claws and teeth (have you seen the way they yawn? *shudders*), their unpredictable nature makes me uneasy around them.

 

With their bare skin and disproportionate body, sphynx cats scare me more than any other breed. No offence if you own one. PHOTO CREDIT: ALINA VILCHENKO VIA PEXELS

Attempting to overcome my fear

As with most other phobias, therapy and counseling sessions are usually helpful, but I haven’t felt my situation was serious enough to seek professional help just yet. After all, I managed to search through a hundred terrifying cat pictures to write this piece, so I’m still able to function despite my fears. 

Though my fear of cats is not strong enough for me to get a panic attack whenever I see one, I tend to get fidgety whenever I’m in close proximity with one. 

When this happens, I usually brisk walk away from it – I never run because I’m more afraid of it chasing after me. 

Having said that, I am trying to face my fear in little ways. 

Whenever a cat video pops up on my feed (thanks sis), I make it a point to watch through at least half of it instead of skipping it completely. Although I still often shudder and cringe when seeing them, I believe this constant exposure is slowly helping me overcome my phobia.

It may be a while before I overcome my fear of cats, but I do hope that one day I will be less affected by them. Maybe then my sister can finally get her dream pet. 


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