are cats and raccoons related

Many people assume that raccoons are rodents, but they’re from the procyonid genus. These small mammalian carnivores have powerful jaws and teeth. Distantly related to cats and dogs, they share a common evolutionary ancestor with bears. Endlessly adaptive, raccoons are among the more intelligent mammal species.

This got me thinking. Are raccoons more like dogs or cats? They certainly exhibit both kinds of behaviors. On the one hand, like dogs, they live in packs. But not always. Raccoons, especially males, go through a phase when they live alone, just like most cats. Other research has shown that raccoons form sex-specific groups. Thats right; raccoons have “boys only” and “girls only” clubs.

Observe that the evolutionary tree divides most early into species that resemble cats (“Feliformia”) and species that resemble dogs (“Caniformia”). So, the dog-cat division happened early in carnivore evolution. Raccoons arose within the Caniformia suborder. That means that, in a technical sense, raccoons are more “like dogs” in response to our query. ” But theres more to the story.

So, that settles it. Raccoons are like dogs? Well, sort of. It’s true that raccoons and bears are the most similar animals, hence the term “trash panda.”

In the order Carnivora, raccoons are classified alongside dogs and cats. Nevertheless, an evolutionary tree reveals that they are more closely linked to bears than to any of our domesticated friends, having a more recent common ancestor with these powerful animals.

As evolution progressed, the ancestors of modern-day dogs and the ancestors of modern-day raccoons went their separate ways. Then, about 40 million years ago, the tree split again, with raccoon-like animals going one way and bear-like animals going another. (Here is a tree depicting the evolution of just bears and raccoons.)

Species edit

There are three extant species of raccoon:

Several raccoons that were formerly thought to be distinct species are now believed to be subspecies or the same as the common raccoon, such as the Barbados raccoon (P. gloveralleni), Nassau raccoon (P. maynardi), Guadeloupe raccoon (P. minor), and Tres Marias raccoon (P. insularis) (Helgen and Wilson 2005). The identity of Procyon brachyurus Wiegmann, 1837 is uncertain because the two animals assigned to this taxon are missing or whose remains have not been found. The taxon was described from captive specimens.

General attributes edit

Raccoons are unique because they can open a lot of closed containers, like doors and garbage cans, with their thumbs, even though they are not opposable. Being omnivores with a reputation for cunning and mischievous, they are one of the few medium-to-large-sized animals that have expanded their range since human encroachment (the coyote is another). Their intelligence and dexterity enable them to survive in a variety of environments. The plantigrade hindfeet of raccoons resemble those of humans and bears. Raccoons are sometimes considered vermin or a nuisance. [5] Scavenging trash cans and other food sources, they have easily adapted to urban settings (compare urban opossums, skunks, and foxes).

Raccoons range in length (including the tail) from 20 to 40 inches (51 to 102 cm), with some species-specific variation. They also weigh between 10 and 35 lb (4 5 and 15. 9 kg). The length of a raccoon’s tail varies from 8 to 16 inches (20 to 41 cm). Male raccoons are generally larger than females. A baby raccoon is called a kit. [6].

In the wild, raccoons can live up to 16 years, but the majority do not survive past their second year. After reaching adulthood, raccoons typically live for five years. Human activity (such as driving, hunting, and trapping) and malnutrition are the main causes of death. [7].

FAQ

Are racoons part of the cat family?

Raccoons are in the Procyonidae (procyon, meaning to wash) family which also includes the ringtail cat and coati, and probably the red panda. There are seven species of raccoons in North America and 25 subspecies. Their weight varies from 12 to 35 pounds. Females are usually smaller than males.

Are raccoons closer related to dogs or cats?

Not particularly. Both are part of the order Carnivora, but raccoons are part of the sub-order Caniforma and are more closely related to dogs than cats.

What animal are raccoons most related to?

Raccoons are most closely related to the weasel (Mustelidae) and bear (Ursidae) families. They have keen senses of hearing, sight, and touch, but taste and smell are less well developed. The front and hind paws of raccoons have 5 digits each.

Can raccoons breed with cats?

No. Cats cannot interbreed with raccoons, regardless of what the Maine Coon origin story may be.