Are you scared of cats? A surprising number of people are.
When my brother was a child he was scratched badly by a cat after he pulled its tail. You might think it served him right, and maybe it did. He didn’t suffer any lasting harm and grew up to be quite happy around cats, but my mother was very wary of them for a long time afterwards.
But some people are terrified of cats for no apparent reason. Deep down they know that cute little ball of fluff rubbing itself against their is legs is harmless. But it might as well be a hungry tiger – it has the same effect on them.
Fear of cats is known as ailurophobia and it can be very inconvenient. After all, cats are pretty common. Maybe you have friends who own them, or a child who longs for a cute kitten as a pet. However hard you try to avoid them you’re almost certain to come across a cat fairly frequently. And cats themselves seem to be strangely fascinated by people who are scared of them.
The good news is that – of course – fear of cats can be overcome.
Beat your fear of cats
There are various approaches to this.
Desensitisation involves gradual exposure to the thing that scares you. So if you have a really severe phobia of cats you might start by looking at pictures. You would then move on through holding the pictures, watching videos, being at the opposite end of a room from a cat to eventually being able to have one in your lap. You’d go through this process very slowly, and learn breathing exercises to help control your anxiety.
Restructuring your thoughts involves changing the way you think about cats. If you make a list of all the negative thoughts you have about cats, you can start to challenge them. So if your automatic thought is that a cat will scratch you, reminding yourself that millions of people have cats without ever getting scratched can be helpful. If you keep doing this you will eventually change the way you think and feel about cats.
You can read more about desensitisation and restructuring your thoughts here. You can try these approaches yourself if your fear of cats is relatively mild, but if you have a full-blown phobia I advise you to get professional help.
Hypnotherapy can be used on its own or combined with the other two methods I’ve described to help you overcome your fear. The therapist will guide you into a relaxed hypnotic state before gently helping you change the way you feel about cats. The exact way they do that will vary depending both on you and the way the therapist works.
So if you’re scared of cats – or anything else – there’s help for you out there. All you have to do is ask for it.