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Can Cats and Raccoons Mate? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Brooke Bundy

By Brooke Bundy

raccoon near pond

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Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Although myths and legends whisper about discovering suspected cross breeds resembling a raccoon and a cat, science says these tales are nothing more than folklore origin stories for different cat breeds, including the Maine Coon. Cats and raccoons are separated from each other by species, genus, and family in the biological classification system.

It’s really a question of semantics. Mating is the actual physical act, breeding is the ability to produce offspring from that mating. So, even though cats and raccoons are physically capable of mating, they can not breed, or produce offspring.   What do we do with all of the tall tales about cats with ringed tails? Let’s dig in a little closer to see if we can name these mysterious creatures.

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Why Can’t Cats and Raccoons Breed?

Maine Coon cat
Photo Credit: ShotPrime Studio, Shutterstock

The Role of Species

Raccoons and cats are different species which doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t interbreed. Just look at horses and donkeys. However, the difference here is that horses and donkeys are closely related, belonging to the same family and genus. Raccoons and cats, on the other hand, genetically diverged a long time ago. Raccoons are actually more closely related to dogs than they are cats.

Raccoons and cats are simply too genetically different to produce viable offspring. Although there are rumors of raccoon-cat crossbreeds, there must be another plausible explanation for these raccoon-like felines.

Different Mating Patterns

Raccoons also have a very brief breeding season spanning from January through March, as opposed to the domestic cat that has a breeding season from early spring through fall. Artificial lighting has unfortunately disrupted the feline’s circadian rhythm, which makes indoor cats capable of continuing their heat cycle year-round. However, chances are very unlikely that their heat cycles will line up with the raccoon’s brief season.

raccoons in grass
Photo Credit: Piqsels

What About Online Videos Showing Cats and Raccoons Mating?

Although unlikely, it is physically possible for a cat and raccoon to have sexual relations. This is a little more probable if both creatures are wild, or if a tame raccoon mates with a domestic cat. However, this doesn’t mean they can have babies.

What About Maine Coons?

One of the reasons that a raccoon-cat hybrid is so controversial is that people have claimed to have seen them in nature. Early American settlers described a cat with a ringed tail that, for all practical purposes, seems to have stemmed from such a liaison. However, this creature was likely not an actual raccoon-cat hybrid, but an ancestor of the Maine Coon.

Burly and fluffy with a ringed tail, the Maine Coon cat may resemble a raccoon. DNA analysis doesn’t trace their origins to a raccoon-cat crossbreed, though. Instead, these studies reveal that the Maine Coon probably descended from European seafaring cats, such as the Norwegian Forest Cat, and an unknown cat breed that’s likely extinct, but this has yet to be fully determined.

Will a Raccoon Attack a Cat?

A raccoon will not likely attack a full-grown cat and vise-versa unless one party is feeling threatened by the other, most likely because they are protecting their young. Kittens are in danger of being attacked and eaten by wild animals, though, and should never be allowed outside before they’re 12 weeks old (and have received all of their shots).

racoon walking on the beach
Image Credit: Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Despite supposed sightings, a raccoon-cat hybrid isn’t scientifically impossible due to genetic differences between the two animals. The fact that they’re separated by species, genus, and family is no guarantee that the two animals won’t try to mate. However, they will not be able to produce viable offspring. If you find a cat that looks oddly like a raccoon, it is probably a Maine Coon or similar breed that’s known to have a fluffy coat and ringed tail.


Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

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