Growing Up
  Season of Travel
  Building a Family
  Natural Dangers
  Present Range
Up Close
  Cat-Like Canine
  Scents and Smell
  The Fox Trot
  Fur Matters
  Pet Concerns
  Around the Garden
  Tame Foxes?
  NFWS Rescue
  Fox Hunting
  Fur Farming
  How to Help
  Get Help



Cat and Mouse Game
Foxes are part of a large family called Canidae, which includes wolves, coyotes, and domestic dogs. They all have long snouts, but unlike most other canines, you'll find a little cat in every fox.

With a light frame and thin legs, foxes maintain excellent balance. Just like their feline counterparts, they gracefully stalk and pounce their prey, using agile paws to pin it, even in deep snow. It's a lucky mouse that escapes the accuracy of a fox.

Foxes love to be high up by climbing rooftops and trees that have enough limbs. This gives them access to small birds, squirrels, eggs and fruits. Some foxes even prefer sleeping in trees.

Agile paws

Like felines and other canines, foxes have four toes on their hindfeet, and five toes on their forefeet. The first toe on the front paws is small, separate, and diminished. It's referred to as a "dew claw" and may not be visible on all foxes.

If you've ever looked at the feet of a house cat, you might have noticed the fur which grows between each pad. The bottom of a fox paw is also well insulated by fur, keeping toes warm in winter and each step quiet while stalking.

At the business end of each foot, four claws are kept ready for action, a cross between cat and dog claws. Unlike other canids, they can be slightly extended for digging and pinning.

Sight by Contrast

One of the most striking similarities is that foxes and cats both have vertically oriented pupils. It's rare trait in itself which eases work in any light condition.

During the midnight hours, foxes rely on their "tapetum lucidum" for superior night vision. The tapetum is a reflective coating on the back of their eyes, delivering twice as much light to their retina, and giving them an eerie glow. Like in many canines and felines however, foxes have poor visual acuity. They can't see very far, or focus on things as well as other animal.

Good Dental Work
Foxes do best at sensing movement and contrast. Like cats, they've sacrificed more "cones" in their eyes, which distinguish color, for more "rods", which detect light. It's likely they separate colors such as blue and red, but not red and green, although we aren't certain.

The teeth of a fox also have some special characteristics. For example, the canines are much thinner, and more curved, than other canids. They're best at clamping down around prey, and holding it still, instead of tearing.

Their long, slender tongue is covered with soft spines somewhat like a cat, helping them lap water and keep their fur groomed. Cleanliness is important to foxes, but they don't cough up fur-balls because hair passes through them. Fox scat is recognizable for its high hair content.

Sensitive Vibrissae

Even the whiskers, called vibrissae, are longer and finer on a fox. Like cats, they too have soft whiskers on their wrists, which may help pouncing aim.

It's believed that all of these traits evolved because both foxes and small cat species hunt the same kind of prey. They likely shared a common ancestor at one point in time, and the fox we know now is perfectly fit to life as a catlike canine.