In simplest terms, the furry fandom is a fan community focused on appreciation of anthropomorphic animal characters (animals given human traits/characteristics). Fans often refer to themselves as “furries.” (The terms “furry fandom” and “furry” are sometimes capitalized, but the meaning is the same.)
If you ask ten people in the fandom for a definition of furry, you’re likely to wind up with eleven different answers — it is, above all, a broad and diverse fandom with wide-ranging interests, and those who are new to the fandom are cautioned not to take any one individual or subgroup as necessarily representative of the whole.
As noted by WhatIsFurry.org:
Because the Furry Fandom encompasses such a wide range of people and interests, to term someone as a “Furry” is similar to calling someone a “Sports Fan”. The term “Sports Fan” itself does not identify the sport in which a person is interested, at what level or even which teams or regions in which they take an interest. Similarly a Furry could be a costumed performer with no interest in cartoons or an artist or animator with no interest in or familiarity with costuming.
Within the furry fandom, you’ll find all types of visual artists, musicians, writers, performers, and fans. Many furries create a “fursona” or character to represent themselves within the fandom, often choosing a species that reflects either their actual or their ideal personality in some way. Furries will often commission artwork of their fursonas, and some commission or create costumes (“fursuits”) of these characters as well.
The furry fandom can be difficult to describe succinctly because, unlike media-based fandoms, furries aren’t fans of any one particular television show, film, or even genre. Many furries do find their way to the fandom through overlap with fandoms of mass media properties like The Lion King and My Little Pony, but for the most part, furries create their own original content to be fans of. It’s an incredibly creative community, and the boundaries between creator and fan are often slim to nonexistent.
Unlike media fandoms, the literature created within the furry fandom is often original work and not fanfiction. Furry fiction can be published by fandom-based presses like Sofawolf, FurPlanet, or Rabbit Valley; self-published; or published by mainstream publications or presses (often under the umbrella of science fiction and fantasy).
Among furry writers, there continues to be some casual debate as to whether furry fiction constitutes a genre, a subgenre (of science fiction and fantasy), a “metagenre,” or something else. In practical terms, though, furry fiction often functions more as a category of fiction than a true genre. A furry story can be romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or a combination of various genres. While some furry fiction is appropriate for children or teens, it’s typically written with an adult audience in mind. In the end, the defining factor of furry fiction is the presence of one or more anthropomorphic animal characters, usually as the protagonist. These may be true “talking animals” (as in Watership Down), animal-like aliens, or bipedal animals who evolved alongside humans, were genetically engineered in some fashion, or inhabit their own secondary world.
We invite you to explore the variety of furry fiction available from furry publishers and beyond by checking out the pages under the “For Readers” heading. If you’d like to explore the furry fandom itself further, a few links are provided below as a starting point.
Anthrocon (the world’s largest furry convention)