Document Contents:

What is this file about?

This file attempts to provide a decent working description of what is meant by the word "furry" and all of the related terms; this is difficult due to the diverse personal interpretations of the word that exist. This file does not, by any means, provide an incontrovertible description of the fandom. This file may help you to understand what furrydom is, however, and determine whether or not you are (or want to be) a part of it.

What is a "Furry"?

The term "furry" is broadly applied to mean any anthropomorphized animal. The common reference given is to "funny animals", a term which I have never heard, so it seems to me that better analogies must exist. Since a furry is an anthropomorphic version of an animal, we can determine what a furry character is by carefully defining our usage of "anthropomorphic".

An object is "anthropomorphic" if it has been given human attributes; these usually include the capacity for rational thought, emotions, and an upright posture. An anthropomorphic animal, therefore is a hybrid that is somewhere between a human and the original species.

Examples of furries abound, and these can surely cement the concept for any readers that stopped to re-read the above paragraphs... Most cartoon characters are furries (e.g. Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Wile E. Coyote, etc.). Many cartoon characters are quite removed from the actual animals; their caracatured forms still retain many animalistic traits, however, and this identifies them as furries. Many comic book characters (e.g. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Omaha the Cat Dancer, Usagi Yojimbo), movie characters (e.g. the Rippers in "Tank Girl", Barf in "Space Balls"), and mascots (e.g. the San Diego Chicken and Smokey the Bear) are also, at a basic level, anthropomorphized animals. Finally, furries are also commonly found in artwork, literature, and mythology (I won't bother to list examples here; I think you've got the idea by now). These are diverse categories, and this is one reason that it is hard to develop a comprehensive notion of what constitutes a "furry".

The diversity of furries is due, in part, to the degree to which they are anthropomorphized. Some characters (such as Mickey Mouse) are modified and humanized to such a degree that they only bear a passing resemblance to the animal from which they were derived. Others, such as Smokey the Bear, still closely resemble an animal in appearance.

So is that all there is to "furry"?

Unfortunately, no. Just to make the term a little more abiguous, it's also used to refer to fans of furry characters. Alternatively, you may hear "furry fan", "furfen", or "fur" used to refer to a "furry" (the human fan, not the animal hybrid). Furry fandom is usually considered to be a subcategory of Fantasy fandom (fans of fantasy fiction and such), but people sometimes associate it with SF fandom (science- fiction fandom) or Anime fandom (Japanese animation fandom) as well. Like most fandoms, it's hard to characterize furry fans (though many will try). Often, they do have some common traits, and some observations along these lines will be included later.

As if this weren't confusing enough, the term "furry" is also used to describe the abstract quality of anthropomorphics; the blending of human and animal elements into a creative whole. If you understand the previous description and you are intrigued, you're probably a furry, at least in part; furries will joyfully hold interminable discussions about all aspects of anthropomorphics, animals, sociology, and sentience. (And, yes, I'm guilty of this myself.)

Do all "furries" have fur?

Again, the term is a bit misleading and ambiguous. (Don't you just love fandom slang? :). In fact, any animal can be considered a furry. There are furry fish and aquatic species (e.g. Street Sharks) and also furry avians (e.g. Big Bird). Occassionally, one will also find furry characters based on insects, protozoans, and other often-disregarded members of the animal kingdom.

In general, the furry community is very "open" in recognizing what constitutes a "furry". The prime requisite is not the form, but the intangible combination of animalistic and human qualities.

So what is a "personal furry"?

Many people have specific furry characters that represent them. They are characters that they have created as representations of their furry personality. Personal furries are more often serious characters rather than cartoons (this is by no means a rule, simply the average), and they often have a clearly defined personality (not necessarily that of the fan, either). These attributes are the same as those of role-playing fans, who will come to identify with their various characters. Personal furries may also be role-playing characters; there are various on-line worlds filled with anthropomorphic animals, so someone's personal furry may be their VR character. Personal furries may also be favorite or totem animals, which that person simply likes.

A fan's connection to their personal furry is unpredictable; the level of association varies widely. Some people find that their personal furry is a representation of some aspect of their own psyche. The division between their character and themselves exists only in the minds of psychologists. Other fans may have personal furries which are their favorite character to draw. They may often draw a particular furry of their own design, but experience an attachment no deeper than that.

Most furries probably fall somewhere in the above spectrum; the attraction to furrdom is sometimes a strong psychological drive and sometimes a simple hobby. We simply have to accept that there is a lot of variance on this issue, and move on to simpler questions...

What is a "fandom"?

Well, I had been assuming that this was a known term, but I should probably define it to eliminate any possible questions... (This is supposed to be informative to everyone, not just those people that already know all of the terms. :)

Basically, a "fandom" is an organization of people with similar interests for the purposes of promoting, discussing, and generally enjoying that common interest. Fandoms are sometimes quite large (such as SF fandom, which is all fans of science fiction) and are sometimes quite specific (Dave Barry fandom, those people who are avid readers and enthusiasts of Dave Barry). Fandoms are sometimes carefully organized, with membership rosters, newsletters, and such. Other fandoms, such as furry fandom, are self-selective groups; you are a member of the fandom if you are interested in the subject and want to be part of activities.

Furry fandom is a specific subdivision of the broad Fantasy fandom. It's simply all of those furs fascinated by anthropomorphics who want to know and meet others with the same interest. Trying to quantify the membership of the fandom is impossible; one can make broad generalizations, though, which may be used to guage the character of the typical fan (see below).

What are fans like?

People are quick to try to characterize the fandom; unfortunately, for those of us who write FAQ's like this one, there is no archetype fan to describe that represents the furry community.

However, there are some traits which are generally common or salient within furry fandom. Here is a list representing some of them. I wish to restate that these are based on my observations of furry and other fandoms; your milage may vary.

Fandom Involvement
Furry fandom, from what I've seen, has a wider range of devotion than most fandoms. Some fans consider furry things to be only a hobby, whereas other fans consider it an integral part of their lives. In general, the fandom has more strongly-devoted members than other fandoms, resulting in a closer sense of community between furs.

Animal Kinship
Many furries associate themselves with a particular species of animal; this can be considered analogous to totem animals. The fans often compare themselves to their animal, adopt a name that (perhaps tangentially) refers to the animal, and learn the communication techniques of the animal (sometimes well enough to actually 'talk' to wild members of the species).

Degrees of Anthropomorphism
Fans generally develop their own conception of where in the spectrum between entirely human and animal their preferences lie. Furries may prefer very animalistic or very humanistic (?) character designs; this is not a point of contention, just a subject on which there's always a variety of opinions.

Alias Adoption
Furries often go by "fan names". Often, these names are associated with a specific anthropomorphic character. This particular tendancy is extremely common in furry fandom (as well as fantasy and role- playing fandoms), and some fans will prefer only to mention their furry name. One can suggest that this is a psychologically symbolic act to indicate to others that the furry aspect is an important part of the person's persona, but one won't because it sounds pretentious. ;)

Social Deviances
Furs often see many of the social conventions of society as stifling restrictions; they tend to feel much more freedom when they are behaving "weirdly" in the company of other furs. Furry fandom also seems to have a wider representation of sexual preferences than mainstream society; this is not limited to furs, however, as both science-fiction and fantasy fandom have a higher percentage of homo- and bi-sexual individuals than mainstream society. I haven't heard any really good explanation for this, but it is supported by facts.


This can only provide you with a broad overview of the many aspects of "furrydom". By looking around, you can probably find detailed analyses of social interactions, roleplaying, artistry, sexual aspects, communications, etc... But this document should provide the newcomer or casually interested viewer with a notion of what they're looking at. :)