Many people wonder if foxes are related to cats or dogs, since they seem to have features of both. Foxes are small to medium-sized animals with a flattened skull, upright ears, a pointed snout, and a long bushy tail. They are also agile and cunning, and some of them can even climb trees. So, are foxes more like cats or dogs? The answer may surprise you.
Foxes belong to the Canidae family
Foxes are actually members of the Canidae family, which includes dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals, and other canines. They share a common ancestor with these animals that lived about 10 million years ago Foxes are part of the subfamily Caninae, which is divided into two tribes: Canini and Vulpini. The Canini tribe includes dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals, while the Vulpini tribe includes all the true foxes of the genus Vulpes, as well as some other fox-like species
There are about 12 species of true foxes in the world, such as the red fox, the Arctic fox, the fennec fox, and the corsac fox. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, and they have adapted to various habitats and climates Foxes are omnivorous animals that eat a variety of foods, such as rodents, birds, insects, fruits, and plants. They are mostly solitary and territorial, but some species form social groups or pairs. Foxes communicate with each other using vocalizations, body language, and scent marking
Foxes have some similarities with cats
Even though foxes are related to dogs, they have some similarities with cats as well. For example:
- Foxes have vertical pupils that allow them to see well in dim light. This is a trait that is shared by most nocturnal predators, such as cats and owls. Dogs have round pupils that are better suited for daytime vision
- Foxes have retractable claws that help them grip surfaces and climb trees. This is a feature that is common among cats and some other animals, such as bears and raccoons. Dogs have non-retractable claws that are used for digging and running
- Foxes have whiskers on their faces and legs that help them sense their surroundings and navigate in tight spaces. Cats also have whiskers for the same purpose, while dogs have fewer and less sensitive whiskers
- Foxes hunt in a similar way to cats, by stalking and pouncing on their prey. They also play with their food before killing it, which is a behavior that is typical of cats. Dogs hunt in packs and chase down their prey, and they usually do not toy with their food
Foxes cannot breed with cats
Despite their similarities with cats, foxes cannot breed with them. This is because they belong to different families and have different numbers of chromosomes. Foxes have 34 or 35 pairs of chromosomes (depending on the species), while cats have 19 pairs of chromosomes This means that they are genetically incompatible and cannot produce viable offspring.
The same is true for foxes and dogs. Although they are closer relatives than foxes and cats, they still have different numbers of chromosomes. Foxes have 34 or 35 pairs of chromosomes (depending on the species), while dogs have 39 pairs of chromosomes. Therefore, they cannot interbreed either.
There have been some reports of hybrid animals that are claimed to be crosses between foxes and cats or dogs, but these are either hoaxes or misidentifications. For instance, the so-called “foxcats” or “cat-foxes” that have been sighted in some parts of the world are most likely feral domestic cats or wildcats that have some resemblance to foxes due to their coloration or size. Similarly, the alleged “fox-dogs” or “dog-foxes” that have been reported in some places are probably coyotes or other canines that have some fox-like features due to their ancestry or environment.
Foxes are fascinating animals that have features of both cats and dogs, but they are neither. They are members of the Canidae family, which includes dogs and other canines, but they belong to a different tribe than dogs: the Vulpini tribe. Foxes have some similarities with cats in terms of their eyesight, claws, whiskers, and hunting style, but they cannot breed with them or with dogs because they have different numbers of chromosomes.
So, the next time you see a fox in the wild or on TV, you can appreciate its unique beauty and intelligence without wondering if it is a cat or a dog. It is a fox, and that is enough.