Can A Cat And A Fox Breed? Everything You Need To Know
The idea of seeing two different species of animals breed and produce offspring is always exciting; as we keep imagining what their offspring may look like. Hence, the cat and fox hybrid. But in some other instances, we may have seen a cat that may have the appearance of a fox(Somali cat) or a fox that has the appearance of a cat(Canadian marble Fox) and we wonder; can a cat and a fox breed?
There are multiple factors that will prevent a cat and a fox from breeding; from genetics to breeding cycle, to mode of penetration, and the likelihood of both animals developing the bond that may lead to reproduction. In this article, we will explore the topic thoroughly including interspecific hybridization which is the process of breeding two animals of different species which create offspring that share the personalities of both parents.
Can A Cat And A Fox Breed?
When two animals of different species mate to produce offspring; the offsprings are usually never able to produce children and are referred to as hybrids. In the first place, animals are considered to be of different species if they’re not able to breed together.
So, No! foxes and cats cannot mate together as they both have different numbers of chromosomes. 34-78 for the fox and the cat has just 38. It is great to note that the genes that influence the height, color of fur, shape of the ear, and other physical attributes are contained in the chromosomes.
However, they can be bred in a lab(which we will talk about later in this article), and the genetic differences between these two lovely animals will make them reproduce an offspring that will not be able to live long or reproduce itself.
What are the biological barriers that may prevent a fox and a cat from breeding?
The reproductive structure and mating behaviors of the cat and fox will make it impossible for the two to engage in a mating activity to produce a cat and fox hybrid.
The male fox has a specialized mating organ which is known as the baculum, but this organ is absent in cats. This baculum is important to foxes as it helps them maintain an erection during coitus which increases the possibility of successful fertilization.
While male cats have penises that are barbed, and they are barbed because the female cats need ovulation to be stimulated before fertilization occurs and the barbed penises are designed for this purpose.
These two lovely animals also have differences in the way they behave when they are in heat, and may not be able to pick cues on when to initiate anything. For example, foxes take up a unique posture and vocalization which is more like a mating ritual; the aim of these displays and vocalization is to attract the female foxes, and when they come around both the female and male fox will engage in lots of chasing and play fighting. This mating behavior of the fox will be novel to the cat and they won’t in any way understand what it’s for.
Likewise, cat has their own unique way of giving cues that they are in heat; the male will engage in scent marking, vocalizations, and rolling on the ground to attract a female. When an attracted female comes around, they will rub their face against each other and the male will present his rare to the female cat. The female cat may also vocalize and roll on the ground to show she is receptive, after which, they mate.
Have there ever been any documented cases of fox and cat breeding?
No, there is no verified documentation of a Cat-Fox hybrid as a result of the two animals’ breeding. However, there have been some speculations that some cat-fox hybrids exist on the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean. Over the past 13 years, scientists have trailed this creature to confirm if it’s truly a fox and a cat hybrid.
The agents with France National Hunting and Wildlife Office(ONCFS) had to set traps to determine if it was a hybrid of a fox and cat or an unknown specie of cat that has been difficult to identify as a result of its nocturnal habits.
“DNA samples were collected as some of these cats were captured and tracked and The cats were determined to be African Forest cats, but their real identity is yet to be determined,” said ONCFS environmental technician Pierre Benedetti.
This cat has a lot of things that are different from a domestic cat including its relatively larger size which is up to 35 inches long from its head to the tip of its tail(An average domestic cat is about 23-25cm.). The ears are also wide set, with shorter whiskers, and the teeth of a canine.
It has a coat that is dense and protects it from ticks and fleas, quite dark hind feet, black rings around its tail, the front legs have stripes, its belly is colored red, and the tip of its tail is black. “Its size and its tail are what made the locals refer to it as a cat fox across the island,” Benedetti said.
If this is truly a cat-fox hybrid then it’s a product of Hybrid Speciation: When two divergent lineages (like species) with distinct evolutionary histories come into touch and interbreed, hybrid speciation takes place. When hybrid populations separate from the parental lineages and diverge from the parent populations, hybridization can result in speciation.
Can you breed a fox and a cat?
Can artificial methods, such as genetic engineering, enable a fox and a cat to breed? Genetic engineering has advanced in recent years and could possibly get a cat and a fox to reproduce. Advanced genetic engineering techniques could be applied to manipulate the two species’ genomes to create a cat-fox hybrid.
However, such a project will be extremely complicated, and will likely face lots of legal, ethical, and practical barriers. And such reproduction will not be able to thrive in its environment. It is unlikely that we will be able to see a Fox-Cat hybrid in the nearest future given the current state of genetic engineering and other challenges that could be faced in creating this hybrid.
Cat breed that looks like a fox
There is no cat breed that looks like a fox exactly, but some cats can possess certain features that are common with foxes. A renowned cat in this category is the Somali cat.
The Somali cat can be taken as the long-haired version of the Abyssinian cat, it is known for its tails that are bushy, large ears, and slender and agile body. The cat has a unique and wild appearance as a result of its ticked coat whose individual hairs display bands of colors. It’s bushy tails and pointed ears are what give the Somali cat a fox-like appearance.
Read: Can your feline friend breed with dogs?
Fox canine or feline family
Foxes belong to the canine family, Canidae which means they are more closely related to coyotes, dogs, and wolves than they are to cats. While the cats belong to the feline family, Felidae in which you will find lions, tigers, leopards, and other species that are related. You might notice a similar characteristic between a fox and a cat, but it’s good to note that they belong to different families.
Can cats and foxes breed _ Final Thoughts
A cat and fox hybrid is exciting to imagine but technically difficult to achieve as a result of genetic differences, differences in mating behaviors, and differences in reproductive organs, and in the case of genetic engineering; litigation, practical and ethical restraints will prevent this hybridization from occurring.
But I hope this post was able to answer all your questions, but if you still have any questions, feel free to air your opinion in the comment section below.