Fear of cats: An abnormal and persistent fear of cats which produces an undue anxiety reaction even though sufferers realize their fear is irrational. Sufferers of this phobia may fear not only the scratch or bite of a cat, but also the "evil mystique" of cats as depicted in Halloween folklore and such literary works as Edgar Allen Poe's "The Black Cat."
Fear of cats is termed "ailurophobia," a word derived from the Greek "ailouros" (cat) and "phobos" (fear). Alternate spellings: "Aelurophobia," "elurophobia." The Greek word "ailourous" has also given us the English word "Ailuroidea," a zoological term for a group of carnivorous animals including cats, hyenas and civets.
An alternate name for fear of cats: "Galeophobia."
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