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,
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
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
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
- 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
- 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. :)