A 55-year-old woman from here in the UK is so afraid of kitties that she can't even look at a picture of a cat without breaking into a full-blown panic!
By, 25 Nov 2019
For cat lovers like us, the sight of a kitty evokes a warm, fuzzy feeling. But whereas we just want to pick them up and give these furballs a snuggle, Jean Diffenthal has a very different reaction.
Jean is definitely not a cat lady
In fact, the grandmother of two is absolutely terrified of cats!
"I can't be in the same room as a cat or even look at this without freaking out," said Jean. "I'll avoid the pet aisle at the supermarket, so I don't see images of cats on tinned food."
Jean, who was born in South Africa and moved to the UK around 16 years ago, has never even touched a cat and can't identify the source of her unusual fear.
"People always asked if it began because of some traumatic experience, but it didn't," Jean said.
"For as long as I can remember, I've been scared of them, and I have no idea why. It's something about their eyes, and they're agile - they quietly dart about."
Strangely, Jean has no problem with big cats like lions or tigers.
Phobias are usually linked to some early trauma, although environmental and genetic factors can play a part.
Phobias can be re-wired through hypnotherapy and exposure therapy. Jean has tried several courses, but the treatments were unsuccessful.
Jean hasn't given up on cats yet
Still, she's determined to overcome her fear of cats so she can start living her best life. She said:
"It's really affecting everything I do and I want to volunteer for elderly care, but often they'll have pet cats in the house."
Good luck, Jean! We're keeping our paws crossed that you find a way to live alongside cats. Then again, maybe we shouldn't say paws!