Are Ferrets Considered Felines? Debunking the Myth and Uncovering the Truth!

The taxonomy system is structured as follows:
– Kingdom
– Phylum
– Class
– Order
– Family
– Genus
– Species

2. The Kingdom Animalia

All animals, including ferrets, belong to the kingdom Animalia. This means they are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms that lack cell walls and obtain their nutrients by eating other organisms.

3. The Phylum Chordata

Ferrets, along with cats and many other animals, belong to the phylum Chordata. This means they have a notochord, which is a flexible rod that supports the body during development, and a dorsal nerve cord.

4. The Class Mammalia

Ferrets are also classified as mammals, which means they are warm-blooded, have fur or hair, and produce milk to feed their young. This is where the similarities between ferrets and cats begin to diverge.

5. The Order Carnivora

The order Carnivora includes animals that are strictly carnivorous, meaning they primarily eat meat. This includes cats, dogs, bears, and many other animals. However, not all carnivorous animals are classified as felines.

6. The Family Mustelidae

Ferrets belong to the family Mustelidae, which includes animals such as weasels, otters, and badgers. This is where the similarities between ferrets and cats begin to diverge even further.

7. The Genus Mustela

Ferrets are part of the genus Mustela, which includes animals such as the European polecat, stoat, and mink.

8. The Species Mustela putorius furo

Finally, ferrets are classified as the species Mustela putorius furo, which is a domesticated form of the European polecat. This means that while they share some characteristics with cats, they are not classified as felines.

Feline Characteristics

To fully understand why ferrets are not considered felines, it’s important to look at the characteristics that define cats.

1. Fur and Coat Structure

Cats have fur that is soft and flexible, allowing them to groom themselves effectively. Their fur also provides insulation, keeping them warm in colder temperatures. Ferrets, on the other hand, have a dense and short coat that is not as flexible as a cat’s fur.

2. Teeth and Jaw Structure

Cats have sharp teeth and a powerful jaw, which they use to hunt and eat prey. They also have retractable claws that allow them to climb and defend themselves. Ferrets have sharp teeth and claws, but their jaw is not as powerful as a cat’s. They also do not have retractable claws.

3. Purring Mechanism

Cats have a unique ability to purr, which they use to communicate and relax. Ferrets do not have this ability.

Ferret Characteristics

Now that we’ve looked at some of the characteristics that define cats, let’s take a closer look at ferrets.

1. Body Structure and Size

Ferrets have a long and slender body that is designed for burrowing and exploring. They are typically around 20 inches long and weigh between 1 and 5 pounds.

2. Tail and Ears

Ferrets have a short and bushy tail, which they use for balance and communication. Their ears are also shorter than a cat’s and are positioned differently on their head.

3. Dentition

Ferrets have sharp teeth that are designed for biting and tearing, but their jaw is not as powerful as a cat’s.

4. Scent Glands

Ferrets have scent glands that they use for marking their territory and communicating with other ferrets. Cats do not have these scent glands.

5. Diet

Ferrets are strict carnivores, meaning they require a diet that is high in protein and fat. Cats are also strict carnivores, but their dietary requirements are different from ferrets.

6. Reproductive System

Ferrets have a unique reproductive system that includes induced ovulation. This means that female ferrets must mate in order to ovulate and become pregnant. Cats do not have this reproductive system.

Common Misconceptions

There are several common misconceptions about ferrets that often lead people to believe they are felines.

1. Physical Similarities

Ferrets share some physical similarities with cats, such as their playful and curious nature, as well as their love of sleeping. However, these similarities do not make them felines.

2. Domestication and Behavior

Ferrets have been kept as pets for centuries and have been domesticated to a certain extent. However, this does not mean they are felines. They still have unique characteristics and requirements that differentiate them from cats.

Scientific Evidence Supporting Ferret Classification

There is scientific evidence that supports ferret classification as a separate species from cats.

1. Genetic Studies

Genetic studies have shown that ferrets are more closely related to weasels and otters than they are to cats.

2. Comparative Anatomy

Comparative anatomy studies have shown that ferrets have unique physical characteristics that differentiate them from cats.

3. Behavior Analysis

Behavior analysis studies have shown that ferrets have unique communication methods and social structures that differ from cats.

Expert Opinions and Research Findings

Experts in the field of biology and zoology have weighed in on the debate about whether ferrets are felines.

1. Opinions from Biologists and Zoologists

Many biologists and zoologists agree that ferrets are not felines due to their unique physical and behavioral characteristics.

2. Studies on Mustela putorius furo

Studies on Mustela putorius furo, the scientific name for the domesticated ferret, have shown that they have unique dietary requirements and reproductive systems that differ from cats.


In conclusion, ferrets are not considered felines. While they share some physical and behavioral similarities with cats, they have unique characteristics and requirements that differentiate them from felines. It’s important to understand the classification system used for animals and the characteristics that define each species. By doing so, we can gain a better understanding and appreciation for the diversity of the animal kingdom.

As for the question “do ferrets attract rats” and “do ferrets deter rats”, it is a common misconception that ferrets attract rats. In fact, ferrets are often used as a natural method of pest control, as they are effective at catching rats and other small rodents. However, it’s important to note that ferrets should only be used for pest control under the guidance of a professional and experienced handler.

ThePetFaq Team