When looking at foxes and observing their behavior, you’ll have an idea that they’re related to dogs and cats. Dogs are canines, while cats are felines. Therefore, the confusion starts at this point.
Are foxes dogs or cats? Foxes are closely related to dogs since they’re both from the Canidae family, but they share common traits with cats, like having vertical pupils although the latter is from the Felidae family.
On the other hand, it can’t be ignored that several dog breeds look a lot like foxes. The best examples are Spitz, Chihuahua, and Shiba Inu. Also, many foxes look like a smaller version of wolves and coyotes, which also belong to Canidae.
With several comparisons, it doesn’t change the fact that both foxes and dogs are from the same family.
How come foxes and cats have similarities? Was there a time in the past that they were linked with each other? Read on to know specifications and other noteworthy information about foxes.
Table of Contents
What Kind of Animal is a Fox?
Since common traits are found among dogs and cats, it’s best to compare their body structures to foxes.
Anatomy of a Fox
The body of a fox is built for strength and speed. In a study, it’s mentioned that a red fox has several adaptations for running, such as long, slender legs.
Since there’s the padding on the bottom of their feet, they can deal with any kind of terrain.
Foxes are graceful and can run at the speed of 23 miles per hour. Amazingly, they can maintain the top speed for a longer period compared to their prey and even predators.
This ability contributes a lot to their survival. The strength development starts when they’re young as they play and chase each other.
The common colors on foxes are red and brown, but there’s a lot more to expect due to mutations or morphs.
Many fox species have bushy tails, and you may think that it’s for balance just like what the cat does, but it’s not. Instead, it has scent glands that foxes use to mark their territories and communicate.
Anatomy of a Dog
Dogs and foxes have similar anatomy, but there are a few differences. These animals have snouts with a sharp sense of smell, and they both have big ears.
Foxes in the wild find these features helpful in hunting. Domesticated dogs have these abilities too, as confirmed by a study. They both use their tails to send a signal to animals when they feel fearful, alert, aroused, and other kinds of feelings.
Anatomy of a Cat
The eyes of the cats and foxes have the same shape, and they also work properly at night. Cats climb trees just like gray foxes because of their retractable claws.
However, cats don’t have a snout like foxes and dogs. They have a nose instead that has a much better sense of smelling especially when the object is close to them.
Cats and foxes are both slender and smaller than dogs. But they don’t have a similar skeletal system because a fox has 170 bones and a cat has 230 bones.
Is Fox Closer to Dog or Cat?
A fox is closer to a dog even though it shares similar behavior with a cat. Foxes and dogs are both canines, so they’re both built as swift runners despite the size difference.
Unlike cats, they practice reproductive traits that are not common among mammals, like being monogamous, including parental care.
Foxes and dogs have the same dental formula as well. They’re also territorial, which means that they have a home range where they sleep and make dens for breeding or shelter when bad weather comes.
Visual communication is practiced by canines, including dogs and foxes. This involves tail movements, ear positions, and compound facial expressions.
When foxes and dogs become aggressive, they seem to appear bigger as their fur turns into bristles and the tails increase in size too.
Eye contact for them means a friendly approach, but a direct stare is a way to threaten a subordinate or another animal.
Ears are linked to the facial expressions of dogs and foxes because they move up and down. They become flat as a sign of apprehension, fear, and submission.
A rigid posture is shown by these animals when they’re confident, while the submissive ones lower their hind legs when approaching their superiors.
When foxes and dogs mate, they indulge in the copulatory tie just like the rest of the Canidae family. It means that the male and female are locked when mating.
Fox and Dog | Information
Can a Fox and a Dog Breed?
Despite the similarities between dogs and foxes, they have different chromosomes, so they can’t breed.
Are Foxes and Dogs Both Evolved from Canidae?
Foxes and dogs evolved from Canidae as they’re included in 14 genera and 34 species that are under this family. They have different traits as it depends on the environment and topography.
Dogs evolved from wolves and became domesticated. Although some foxes are domesticated, most of them continue to live in the wild and hunt at night.
Do Foxes Bark?
Foxes bark like dogs, but they sound a bit like cats. They have a higher pitch since they’re smaller than dogs.
Is Fox Faster Than a Dog?
Fox is not faster than a dog. A dog has the top speed of 31 mph. Foxes are at their fastest at 30 mph.
Fox and Cat | Information
What Do Foxes and Cats Have in Common?
- Foxes and cats are most active at night as their eyes have vertical pupils that allow them to see in dimness or darkness.
- They both have similar hunting methods, like stalking the prey first then pouncing it later. Just like cats, foxes can climb trees and they sometimes sleep on the branches. This is unique to foxes as it’s not commonly done by other canines.
- Both foxes and cats have relatively longer whiskers as well.
- They have slender bodies, and both are smaller than dogs.
Are Fox Whiskers and Paws Similar to Cats?
Foxes and cats both have long and sensitive whiskers. Among the fox species, gray fox has particularly retractable claws. These are the body parts that allow them to climb trees just like cats.
Hunting Habits of Cats and Foxes
Since they’re both smaller compared to other predators, cats and foxes have similar hunting habits. They’re after the same prey, which they hunt at night because their vision can work even in the dark.
Furthermore, they even have the same body position when catching their prey. They start with stalking the prey then pounce it once they’re sure that they can seize it.
Both cats and foxes like playing with what they catch. When killing prey, the method of foxes is similar to a wild cat. Most canids grab and shake prey, but foxes directly bite on body parts that are filled with blood vessels like the neck.
Do Foxes Purr?
Foxes do purr. Even though purring is a practice common to the cat family, foxes can also give a purr-like sound.
Foxes make various sounds to communicate, so they can be complex but with meaning. Foxes purr when they feel safe and relaxed. They also do it when cuddling.
You will likely hear a purr from a mother fox when she cuddles and feeds her babies. When petting a fox, it purrs or churrs accompanied by a vibration on the stomach.
How Do I Protect My Pet From Foxes?
- Secure your pet is inside the house, especially at night.
- Put up protection through building a fence that is a predator-proof kennel. It should be buried two feet below the ground so the foxes won’t be successful in digging it.
- Your yard should have lights when you put your dog on a leash outside.
- Don’t go near fox den sites when taking your dog for a walk.
- If ever a fox follows you, put your pet inside but don’t turn your back from it or run away. In cases that you can’t get inside straight away, shout and shoo it away.
You can also throw things that you can get your hands on as a way of threatening it. You may prepare weapons like pepper spray and air horns in advance.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Foxes Live as a Pet?
Foxes that live as a pet can live up to 14 years.
Are Foxes Part Cat?
Foxes are not cat. They are canids and cats are felines.
Do Foxes Hiss?
Baby foxes hiss with their mouths open. It’s how they manifest defense or threat.
Do Foxes and Dogs Get Along?
Pet foxes can get along with dogs as they can learn the habits of the latter.
Foxes are related to dogs since both are from the Canidae family. They are both built as fast runners. In addition, they have similar reproductive traits, dental formulas, and visual communication.
Despite that the cat belongs to another family, foxes have the same iris, hunting habits, and ability to climb a tree with it. But they don’t have similar bone structures and dental formulas.
List of Sources
Feeney, S. (1999). Comparative osteology, myology, and locomotor specializations of the fore and hind limbs of the North American foxes Vulpes vulpes and Urocyon cinereoargenteus. University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Malkemper, E. P., Mason, M. J., Burda, H. (2020). Functional anatomy of the middle and inner ears of the red fox, in comparison to domestic dogs and cats. Journal of Anatomy.
Castelló, J. R. (2018). Canids of the World: Wolves, Wild Dogs, Foxes, Jackals, Coyotes, and Their Relatives. Princeton University Press.