Cat Attack Phobia | Living with Gleigh

I was watching the Anderson Cooper talk show the other day on NBC and they were talking about weird phobias. One woman was terrified of cats. I don’t remember if she had a basis for her fear, but she thought every domestic cat was just waiting to stage an attack.

We’ve always had some sort of an animal in our family since my kids were young: dogs, guinea pigs, birds, fish, frogs and we started adding cats to our family about the time my oldest was in kindergarten.

My oldest daughter had a love-hate relationship with the idea of having a cat. She’d lobby for one every once in awhile, but I didn’t run out right away and get her one. At one point she was pretty adamant she must have a cat until someone told her that they eat birds. She had her mind made up that she couldn’t possibly have a cat and in her toddler voice in which she couldn’t pronounce her “r’s” she would exclaim to everyone she knew that “Cats eat boids!” It didn’t stop her fascination with the creatures, though.

There were always cats in my life when I was growing up. The most notable one was a Siamese named Kit Kit. She was a tough little thing that would defend her territory and kittens within a five mile radius. She tore out of her nesting box away from her newborn kittens to “fend off” a St. Bernard a neighbor had on a leash while standing on our front porch. There was fur everywhere, but it wasn’t hers. I’m sure that St. Bernard told his friends because we were never bothered by stray dogs. My dad would put her into bed with me when I woke with nightmares, telling me Kit Kit will protect you; it worked every time.

When we moved to a different town out in the country, Kit Kit “retired” in her old age and stayed indoors until she died. We started getting barn cats to keep the rodent population down and some of the more cuddly ones would let us befriend them, although they stayed outside. One day an orange, full grown tabby cat showed up at our door, invited himself in and stayed, he became the king of the castle. Of course, like many of his breed, his name was Tabby and he lived throughout my remaining school years.

With my good memories of the cats in my life, I felt I couldn’t deny my kids the chance to have their own memories with feline companions. So about the time my oldest turned five, someone I knew was giving away kittens. I took my daughters to pick out a cute black and white kitten my oldest claimed as her own. She named her Misty. She got the name Misty because she had been my daughter’s first swim instructor and as many toddlers do, she fell in love with Misty. There after, everything was named Misty: dolls, stuffed animals, dryer lint. We had even gotten a lab puppy she named Misty before we acquired Misty the cat. The puppy was too rambunctious for my tiny girls, and I had to find her a better home. So when the cat came to live with us, she was also christened as Misty. My daughter finally had her Misty.

This brings me back to phobias about cats (you knew I had a point). I’m surprised my youngest daughter isn’t scarred for life because of the cats we’ve owned. She was about three when Misty came to live with us. Picture being at kitten level as my tiny three-year old daughter flies down the hall, her little feet shuffling through the carpet, her night gown waving around her ankles. Think what temptation all that vigorous movement would be for a playful kitten.

Now picture my little girl rushing by a hidden kitten and the kitten leaping out at my daughter like a flying squirrel. My daughter would scream in terror as the kitten would latch onto her nightgown. The little girl would keep running with Misty dragging behind her claws extended.

Let’s just say there was no love lost between the two. We’ve had three other cats since then, two came to us as kittens. My daughter was understandably jittery around the first kitten we got after Misty died. Now, as a teen she’s realized her size trumps those little kittens, although, she doesn’t run down the hall in a nightgown anymore.


Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can read her column every week on and  more of her writing and her daily blog on her website

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