ai·​lu·​ro·​pho·​bia ī-​ˌlu̇r-​ə-​ˈfō-​bē-​ə How to pronounce ailurophobia (audio)
variants or less commonly aelurophobia
: abnormal fear or loathing of cats
I don't know where my intense fear of cats came from or when it began. Ailurophobia, by definition, is irrational. But I am sure of this: Those sneaky little devils are out to get me.Dahleen Glanton

called also felinophobia

ailurophobe noun
or less commonly aelurophobe
plural ailurophobes also aelurophobes
One famous ailurophobe was Pope Gregory IX, who declared in 1232 that cats were diabolical creatures, the embodiment of the devil and a symbol of heresy. Western Free Press (Arizona)
ailurophobic adjective
or less commonly aelurophobic
… a crime-scene photographer so ailurophobic she refused to enter the house until the homeowner had herded her cats into a single room. Ken Daley
… some cat-lovers claim Garfield is a ratty sort of cat and the books are actually ailurophobic. The New York Times Book Review

Examples of ailurophobia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The psychiatrist set about reversing Mrs. A’s ailurophobia through systematic desensitization—a process of familiarization. Brandy Schillace, WSJ, 30 Sep. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ailurophobia.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Greek aiélouros, aílouros "wild or domestic cat" (of uncertain origin) + -o- + -phobia

Note: According to an analysis dating back to the Etymologicum Magnum (12th century, from earlier sources), the word is composed of aiólos "quick-moving, nimble" and -ouros "having a tail (of the kind specified)." However, the word aiólos itself being of unknown origin, there is no explanation for the appearance of -e- in aiélouros. Presumably aiélouros first designated the wildcat (Felis sylvestris), as the domestic cat was a relatively late introduction in ancient Greece.

First Known Use

1905, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ailurophobia was in 1905

Dictionary Entries Near ailurophobia

Cite this Entry

“Ailurophobia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


variants or aelurophobia
: abnormal fear of cats
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