Saturday, 9 October 2010

Are you an Ailurophobe?

I'm not an ailurophobe. Quite the opposite in fact.
How about you?

An ailurophobe is a person with 'an irrational fear or hatred of cats.'
The term was first used by the Greek historian, Heroditus, after describing all the cats he saw in Egypt as 'tail wavers' or 'ailuroi.'

William Shakespeare was evidently an ailurophobe.

'I can endure anything but a cat,
the only good cat is a dead cat.'

But Shakespeare's dislike of cats was but as nothing compared to Napoleon Bonaparte's fierce fear of felines.

The French Emperor's Fear.
At the Battle of Wagram, an Aide de Campe heard cries for help coming from Bonaparte's tent. Fearing for his leader was in mortal danger, the Aide drew his sword and entered to find Napoleon sweating profusely and stabbing the air because a stray cat had wandered in. 
Evidently this fear was no secret. On another occaision a political opponent wrong footed Napoleon in an important debate merely by mentionning a cat!
Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor - was afraid of cats.
 My favourite Napoleon story comes from after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Exiled by the British to the island of Saint Helena, Napoleon's residence was the damp, vermin infested estate at Longwood.
'Rats...came out at thick as the floor appeared black.'

Reports filtered back to England that the Emporer had been biten by a rat. Ever compassionate, and perhaps knowing of his fear, it was decided to send a ship load of cats to St Helena. Posters were put up in market places offering sixpence per cat; strays and farm cats were rounded up by the wagon load, and promplty despatched to help with the infestaton. One can only imagine Napoleon's reaction when this cargo arrived at St Helena.

Sir Walter Scott - a reformed ailurophobe.
18th century historical novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott, came to like cats in later life.
'The greatest advantage of old age I have yet found is liking a cat, an animal which I previously detested.'
He wrote further:
'I suspect many an ailurophobe hates cats only because he feels they are better than he is - more honest, more secure, more loved, more whatever he is not.'

I cant argue with that!

Surely no one could be afraid of such an adorable creature?


  1. Haha I LOVE this post! I'm the same, not afraid of cats at all. I type this with my big monster of a cat at my feet :)

  2. Cats rule as far as I'm concerned...but then they rule the house regardless of whether I want them to or not!

  3. Years ago, I lived in south Florida, and the man who cut my grass got a little nervous when he spotted my three kitties watching him from the window. I assured him that not only were they very nice, they never came outside. He told me that when he was a child he was attacked by a feral cat, and I guess he just never got over it. Maybe such a thing happened to Napoleon as well. I would like to know what he did when that ship of cats docked, though.


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