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Which Historical Figures Were Afraid of Cats?

Historical figures that were afraid of cats, a condition known as ailurophobia, include many dominant leaders or dictators. Adolf Hitler, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Benito Mussolini were all reported to have not simply disliked cats, but actually feared them. The theory behind why these historical figures were thought to be afraid of cats is the idea that sensitive, introspective types tend to be drawn to cats, and brutish personalities are repelled by cats. It is not known what causes a phobia of cats, however. Psychiatrists typically believe that phobias are caused by bad experiences.

More about animal phobias:

  • Cats don’t like to be stared at, so people who have ailurophobia are more likely to attract cats, because the animal feels more at ease.

  • Fears of specific types of animals are thought to develop between the ages of 5 and 9 years old, in most cases.

  • Ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes, is believed by some scientists to have developed out of an evolutionary survival tactic, because many snakes are poisonous or deadly.

Discussion Comments

By anon998836 — On Sep 04, 2017


The Black Cat superstition is believed to have come from the Middle Ages, when some people thought witches could transform into black cats and/or kept black cats as familiars (hence a lot of black cats were, sadly, killed).

By Chmander — On May 07, 2014

The second bullet point really hits home, as I am deathly afraid of bees and wasps, all because of an incident that happened when I was eight years old. To make a long story short, I was trying to protect myself from a bee, but it stung me anyway.

I think the reason these phobias develop at such a young age is because during that time, we're still growing and maturing. Anything that happens to us (big or small) shapes us into who we are.

By Krunchyman — On May 06, 2014

I don't have Ophidiophobia, and even though I'm not afraid of snakes, I would say that I'm a lot more cautious around them, that's for sure. Also, I do agree with the bullet point when it says that the fear could have derived from survival tactics.

I think the problem is that because some snakes are deadly, most people assume that all are. Some might see this as being overly cautious, but sometimes, it's better safe than sorry.

By Euroxati — On May 05, 2014

Speaking of a fear of cats, though the article doesn't mention this, some people also tend to be afraid of cats due to bad luck, especially black cats. I wonder where this superstition came from. Also, this is definitely an interesting article about the phobias that we all have, direct or indirect.

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