Dora is a Greek word that means ‘the hide or skin’ of an animal, and doraphobia is the term used for an abnormal and persistent fear of fur. Sufferers of this fear avoid fur-bearing animals such as dogs, cats, foxes, beavers and rabbits because fur is repulsive to them. Perhaps some of these phobics associate fur with childhood stories about “the big bad wolf” and other fur-bearing predators. Their fear is not always irrational, for many furry animals including bats, raccoons, dogs and cats, can be carriers of rabies.
Doraphobia can develop for many reasons, but often, it begins because someone feels angry about the fact that an animal was skinned for its fur. To someone who believes animals should be left alone and not used to satisfy the appetites and vanity of human beings, the sight of a coat or other item made of an animal’s fur can be almost unbearable.
Fur used to be a necessity but now there are many fine substitutes for fur and the use of fur is not anymore considered a fashion statement, and doraphobia is becoming more rampant.
The symptoms of fear of fur are similar to those experienced during a panic attack. Nervousness, terror, nausea, and dizziness are common when the doraphobic person is confronted with fur. Rage may also be present in those whose aversion to fur stems from their compassion for animals.
Treatment options include behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and relaxation techniques. Anti-anxiety medications may be given to those not responding to psychotherapy.