My daughter is really terrified of cats. I think it began when she was around 18 months old, we were visiting a friend, who had several cats. Until this stage there was no problem but in one split of a second she was observing one of the cats and it was literally staring back at her, the cat then snarled and that was the moment that the whole Cat episode began.

My husband has an allergic reaction to them, so there is never going to be a cat in the household. However when we are out or anywhere that a cat crosses our path my daughters face changes, I see her fear is real. She genuinely fears cats. She has riden ponies, held rabbits, stroked dogs, but the idea of a cat brushing past her can send her into tears.

Any ideas as to how to I can help her overcome this fear would be greatly appreciated!

asked 13 Oct '09, 08:53

Emi's gravatar image

accept rate: 19%

edited 13 Oct '09, 08:58

How does she react to cats in stories and television? For example:

  • Could you make up a story involving a cat?
  • Could you read her a story book which involved a cat, including drawings?
  • Could she cope with watching a TV programme which showed a cat?

You may be able to very gradually introduce cats back into her life in a non-threatening way like that. For example, start with a story which happened to have a cat in one or two pictures, and work up to stories where the main characters are cats. (There are loads of good options there - Baker Cat, Beatrix Potter, Orlando, etc.)


answered 13 Oct '09, 09:10

Jon%20Skeet's gravatar image

Jon Skeet
accept rate: 35%


I will try making up a story and see how that goes!!! Books with cat pictures and stories with cats are of no interest, I'm afraid! I can't help thinking that her fear is a combination of mistrust and fear. Thanks Jon!!

(13 Oct '09, 17:29) Emi

How old is she now? If she's old enough to be reasoned with, then you can talk to her about whether a cat has ever hurt her and about how to tell if a cat is going to scratch her. You can find someone who has a very docile cat and tell her how they're so soft like a bunny. But if she's too young, none of that will apply.

The problem is that she's got that other cat lodged firmly in her mind. Having been on the business end of many disgruntled cats, I can't exactly blame her. Helping her to be able to gauge when she's about to become a scratching post will help her to take those first steps.


answered 13 Oct '09, 17:20

bbrown's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

She is 5 now, and yes you are so right about reasoning with her. She is a smart child and answers back with clarity. But its like you say, the vision of that cat remains, and though she knows nothing has happened , she thinks something will eventually happen. I think I may stand a slightly better chance of finding a little kitten and persuading her to stroke it, than a docile cat. Thanks for the great comments.

(13 Oct '09, 18:08) Emi

Oh yes, a kitten will be hard to resist. "How can that little precious ball of fur hurt you?"

(13 Oct '09, 18:28) bbrown

Well someone with a very very docile cat moved into our apartment block and during an apartment tenants meeting she was able to meet this rather big but very very calm orange coloured cat. Our neighbor encouraged my daughter to stroke it but she kept her distance until he started talking about the cat and saying that she never went outside because it was not a street cat and therefore would not be able to defend herself, this seemed to be the magic sentence and my daughter suddenly felt comfortable enough to stroke it having been told that she was very a very docile cat. Thank you bbrown.

(17 May '10, 07:31) Emi
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Asked: 13 Oct '09, 08:53

Seen: 2,308 times

Last updated: 13 Oct '09, 17:20