What Is a Furry? And Other FAQs for Parents

Haley Zapal | January 05, 2023 | Internet Safety Tips Kids and Technology

"What is a furry?"header image with two pink furry creatures

If you’ve ever seen a person out in public dressed up like a cartoon animal character in a fursuit, you may have been confused as to why they were dressed like a mascot out in public. You may have even wondered what they actually do. They’re called furries, and it turns out that there’s a very large community — both online and in real life — they belong to.

Many kids today are also expressing interest in furries, but there are issues and dangers that parents need to know about. In this blog post, we’ll answer common questions (like what *is* a furry) about this lifestyle, as well as provide talking points if your kid is interested in furries.

What Is a Furry Exactly?

A furry is someone who is interested in anthropomorphic art and characters. Anthropomorphic means “resembling a human,” and so with furries, it means animals that resemble or have human characteristics. A classic example of the appeal of this art style that our generation may understand is the fox from Disney’s 1973 Robin Hood.

You don’t have to dress up like a furry to identify as one, and in fact most don’t. Self-identified furries do, however, often create a “fursona,” which is like an alter-ego or character. These fursonas can have names and physical and emotional characteristics. Sometimes, they’re very different from the person’s day-to-day personality, though not necessarily.

What Do Furries Do?

Like fans of anything — whether it’s baseball, the Bachelor, or Orangetheory — furries like to read, write, and talk about their interest. Some furries like to role-play in groups or online with like-minded people. Others like to post their art and look at others. There are furry conventions that take place all over the world, where people meet up to hang out, attend panels, buy art, party, and more. Think of it like ComicCon, but for all things furry.

Does This Mean My Kid Wants to be an Animal?

Not at all! Expressing an interest in furry culture is like expressing an interest in other hobbies. Where it may get confusing is when kids want to pretend, but playing pretend is a pretty popular pastime for kids in general. So are immersive role-playing games that are also popular.

Are Furries a Sex Thing?

The short answer is not necessarily. Someone can be a furry and into furry activities without ever expressing an interest in anything sexual — ever.

There are, however, individuals that combine the furry lifestyle with pornography, sexual acts, art, and more. After doing some research, our team found that the term “furry porn” had more than 600,000 search queries, which shows just how much content there is around the more adult aspects of furry content. 

Is Being a Furry Safe for Kids?

It definitely can be! Kids can be interested in drawing furries, watching furry videos, or just playing around with friends. Danger comes into play in a few different ways. For example, when kids may be communicating with adults who use furry activity to begin the grooming process. If a child wants to attend a furry convention, you’ll want to make sure it is kid-friendly (some are adult-only) and that a trusted adult is with them at all times. But you know your child best, and some kids may not be mature enough for this type of activity. 

Another danger is exposure to inappropriate furry content, which kids can find easily and quickly all over the internet — from Reddit to Instagram. Furry porn can be images, fan fiction, and videos, both animated and in-person, and may include adults, children, and animals.

Do All Furries Wear Fursuits?

According to Furscience, a group of researchers who study furry culture, less than 25% of furries own suits. They can actually be pretty expensive! Like with any hobby or fandom, interest levels lay along a spectrum. Some people may go all out and build a suit, and some may be happy just having a furry name. Still others may just like watching furry content on the internet.

What’s a Fursona?

A Fursona (a portmanteau of furry and persona) is like a person’s alter ego in the furry world. It can consist of a name, a species, personality traits, back story, and habits. Kids especially can get super creative when it comes to imagining a character’s world and interests. 

Where Do Furries Hang Out Online?

There are so many places online where furries chat, hang out, and post content. Here are just a few of some of the more popular places:

  • The subreddit r/Furry has more than 327,000 members.
  • Searching #furry on Tumblr, Instagram, and TikTok turns up millions of posts and videos. 
  • FurAffinity.net hosts fan-created art.
  • Discord has furry-themed servers for chatting and roleplaying.
  • Twitch and YouTube have furry live streamers.
  • Furry characters can appear in Roblox.
  • WikiFur is an online encyclopedia for all things furry.
  • FurAffinity.net, a repository for images, photos, and projects.

How Do I Talk to My Kid About Furries?

If your kid has expressed an interest in furries, you may be concerned or worried. This is okay! The internet has made a lot of things more mainstream than when we were kids. Having an interest in drawing human-fox cartoon characters can be no different than being obsessed with Legos, loving horses, or wanting to read every Star Wars book. Here are a few ways to start a conversation with your child about their interest:

  • What is your favorite furry character?
  • Where did you learn about furries?
  • Do you have friends that like them too?

Once you’ve established a baseline around their interest, you may want to talk about some of the dangers they may face:

  • Some bad people online may talk about furry stuff to trick kids. Have you seen this happen?
  • What would you do if an adult started talking to you online about furry stuff?
  • Do you know that some furry content is only for adults?

Help Protect Your Child Online with Bark

Kids that express an interest in furry culture may be at risk from predators because of the very nature of furry content — kids like cartoons and sweet animals. Predators know this and may use a child’s love of these creatures to begin grooming them. A recent case (content warning that there are graphic details) involved a grown, self-identified furry man who was communicating with a 13-year-old online (via platforms like Twitter, Discord, Oculus, and TextNow) and later abducted the child. Thankfully, the teen was found alive.

Sadly, these kinds of interactions aren’t uncommon. Bark can help you keep your child safe online by monitoring texts, apps, and popular social media platforms for signs they’re being groomed by predators — in addition to bullying, depression, suicidal ideation, and more. You’ll get an alert for concerning conversations so you can check in and make sure everything’s okay. Bark also lets you block dangerous apps like Snapchat and Discord so you can help prevent these types of conversations from happening, as well. 

About Bark

Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.