You must have met someone who is afraid of cats. They can jump at the sight of them and embarrass you terribly. It may be hard for an outsider to understand this fear, but just like many other phobias, you can’t fully comprehend fears because many times, they are irrational.
Throughout history, cats have been alternately revered and reviled due to their alleged supernatural powers. In Ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as deities. It was believed that they were under the special protection of Bast, goddess of fertility and of the moon.
Today, the fear of cats as harbingers of evil is typically rooted in a religion-based phobia. In some cases, the fear of evil is a sign of disordered thinking, and in others, it could be caused by a traumatic past experience.
Whatever the case, getting rid of ailurophobia is important because it can affect your quality of life. Here are 5 ways to deal with the fear of cats.
1. Remember when it started
The fear of cats can be passed on from one person to the next. It can also be caused by a traumatic past event. In many instances what seems obvious is that people aren’t just born with the fear of cats, they develop this fear. So, get to the root of the problem. Is it a by-product of generalized anxiety? Or did something happen to the sufferer as a child which has impacted their whole life?
A toddler who was scratched by a cat may grow into an adult with a subconscious memory of a huge, hissing beast that wants to hurt them. Or maybe the person with the fear of cats associates cats with a bad time in their life; a nasty break up, or a home invasion.
2. Exposure therapy
Like we’ve said, most times fears are irrational. So to beat the fear, you literally need to face it. To address ailurophobia, you might begin by looking at pictures of cats. You might move on to watching cat videos, then holding a stuffed or toy cat. Eventually, you might sit next to a cat in a carrier before taking the final step of holding a gentle cat.
Exposure therapy doesn’t mean locking yourself in a room with a hundred cats! It means gradually desensitizing yourself to the presence of cats.
3. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Therapy appears to be a great way to deal with phobias. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help a person to get over their fear of cats. Through this, you’ll learn how to identify the thought patterns that cause distress and reframe them. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for ailurophobia will likely still involve some exposure to cats, but you’ll be well-equipped with coping tools by that stage.
The fear of cats may seem small, but its effects are huge. Fear of cats can be particularly exhausting because so many friends and family members have cats in their lives. It’s very unlikely you will go through your entire life avoiding everyone who owns a cat.
There aren’t any medications specifically designed to treat phobias, but some can help with the short-term management of symptoms. These include Beta-blockers, Benzodiazepines, and D-cycloserine. It is important to get these prescribed rather than just jumping into them.
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