One glance at a fox, and you might think it’s a furry dog or oversized house cat. At second glance, you might see something else entirely. No wonder the cunning fox is also known as a trickster in some cultures. Because foxes have characteristics and quirks that could go either way, it’s rather fair to ask the question, “Are foxes dogs or cats?” The answer to that question, though, may surprise you!
Are Foxes Related to Dogs or Cats?
Biologically speaking, a fox is part of the Canidae family of mammals. Dogs are also a part of Canidae, meaning that foxes and dogs are indeed related. This means that neither dogs nor foxes are connected to Felidae or cats.
The Canidae family—derived from canis, the Latin word for “dog”—also includes coyotes, wolves, jackals, dingoes, domesticated dogs, and many other dog-like mammals both alive and extinct.
Anatomically, foxes and dogs have much in common. Both species have snouts that are sensitive to odors and tails that allow for communication. Foxes and dogs are also omnivorous, although foxes require different nutrients from their food than dogs.
Foxes and Cats: Similarities and Differences
Although foxes are genetically dogs, some physical qualities and behaviors are extremely cat-like. For instance, foxes and cats share a similar optical structure—vertical pupils and reflective membranes. Both are crepuscular and have night vision. Foxes also have claws that can be retracted, allowing them to pad around unheard. And just like cats, foxes have hypersensitive whiskers.
But the similarities don’t stop there. Behaviorally, foxes and cats share the following traits:
- Baby foxes spit and hiss like kittens; adults mew and cry, and some may even purr or giggle when petted
- Some species of fox can climb trees
- Foxes bite to kill (and will play with their prey)
- Posturing: hackling fur, arching the back, pouncing
- Foxes and cats are solitary hunters
What Do You Call a Baby Fox?
You might think that figuring out what a baby fox is called will shine some light on the conundrum. Are baby foxes called pups? Cubs? Kittens?
Interestingly, fox babies can be called kits, cubs, or pups; the most common, however, is “kit,” which is not short for kittens.
So, Are Foxes Dogs or Cats?
To sum it all up: foxes are related to dogs and are in the same mammalian family. But, they behave like cats.