tcasCats have quietly crept into the number one spot as America’s favorite companion animal: In the past decade, they have come to outnumber dogs 66 to 58 million, according to the ASPCA. So why, when so many of us choose these amiable creatures to be our “best friend,” do many others-perhaps as many as one in four–continue to regard the cat with suspicion?

Ailurophobia, an actual fear of cats, is caused by an early traumatic experience involving a cat and requires therapy to overcome. But that differs from the general distrust and even disdain for cats that some people harbor.

Folk beliefs about felines are centuries old, rooted in a lack of understanding of the natural universe: A cat in a room with a dying or dead person will steal that person’s soul. If a cat sits with its back to the door, it will