There’s an city legend that claims the majestic Maine Coon got here from the cross of a Norwegian cat and a raccoon. This fantasy is probably going as a consequence of the truth that the Maine Coon is a big feline with distinctive markings which can be considerably harking back to a raccoon’s stripes. However whereas it’s true that cats and raccoons can typically cross paths, particularly in city and suburban areas, these encounters don’t finish in tiny “cat-coon” or “rac-cat” infants. Cats and raccoons can not mate and reproduce—irrespective of how lovely such offspring could be!
Let’s take a more in-depth have a look at why some species can efficiently interbreed and why this isn’t the case with cats and raccoons. There are additionally nice recommendations on holding your feline pal protected in the event that they enterprise outdoors.
Can Two Totally different Species Mate?
It’s not that frequent within the wild, however two totally different however associated species can certainly reproduce. This course of is known as hybridization, and it could actually occur in each animals and vegetation. When two totally different species mate efficiently, their offspring is known as a hybrid. More often than not, hybrids are sterile, that means they’ll’t have infants (although this isn’t at all times the case).
That mentioned, scientists don’t all agree on outline species. The “Biological Species Concept” is usually used to separate totally different animals and vegetation into varied species. In line with this precept, animals that can’t breed collectively or that may breed however produce sterile offspring are labeled as totally different species.
Some scientists classify species based mostly on notable bodily and environmental variations—for instance, variations in colour, habits, habitat, or geographic location. Different scientists use genetic variations, that are sections of DNA containing small variations referred to as mutations. Sometimes, members of various species are unable to breed as a consequence of these genetic boundaries. Certainly, that is the very definition of the time period “species,” which comes again to the Organic Species Idea; two animals incapable of reproducing are labeled as two totally different species.
Are All Hybrids Sterile?
Whereas it’s true that almost all hybrids are unable to breed, there are situations the place hybrids can have infants. This happens when a hybrid mates with one other hybrid or with a member of the identical species as one in all its mother and father. For instance, when a male lion and a feminine tiger hybridize, they produce a liger. 90% of male ligers are sterile however a lot of the feminine ligers are fertile and could be efficiently bred again to a tiger or a lion.
Apparently, in line with the authors of an article revealed within the journal Frontiers, the existence of fertile hybrids poses a sure scientific challenge, because it contradicts a basic precept of the Organic Species Idea, which means that two distinct species shouldn’t be able to mating and producing fertile infants. Nonetheless, this doesn’t suggest that the mother and father of hybrids are usually not distinct species; fairly, it highlights that the idea of ‘organic species’ could not apply to all species.
So, Why Can’t Cats and Raccoons Mate?
You might have heard that cats and raccoons can typically mate, however these claims are usually not supported by any credible proof. Scientifically, there aren’t any documented circumstances of profitable interspecies breeding between these two animals.
Cats and raccoons belong to distinct households throughout the order Carnivora. Certainly, cats are a part of the Felidae household, whereas raccoons are labeled within the Procyonidae household. If we have a look at the liger, which has a tiger mom and a lion father, we will see that though they’re totally different species, they belong to the identical genus, Panthera, which explains their interbreeding success. This isn’t the case for raccoons and cats.
How one can Hold Your Cat Secure Open air
Though cats and raccoons can not mate, they do usually cross paths within the wild, notably in areas the place human improvement encroaches upon pure habitats. These interactions can result in quite a lot of outcomes, a few of which might pose dangers to your cat. Rabies, for instance, is a big concern, and raccoons are recognized carriers of this lethal virus. In case your cat will get right into a combat with a raccoon, there’s a probability of illness transmission by way of bites or scratches.
Contemplating the potential dangers posed by interactions with raccoons and different wildlife, it’s important to take measures to make sure your cat’s security after they enterprise outdoors.
Though interspecies breeding is technically attainable and might even end in fertile hybrids like ligers, there is no such thing as a scientific information proving that such a relationship can happen between a raccoon and a cat. That mentioned, the dangers linked to random encounters between these two species are very actual, such because the transmission of contagious ailments or the chance of damage within the occasion of a combat.
Subsequently, in case you let your cat roam freely outdoors, ensure that to observe their comings and goings as a lot as attainable, and above all, ensure that their vaccinations are up to date. Don’t attempt to entice raccoons to your private home simply because they appear lovely and innocent!
Featured Picture Credit score: Corina Muresan, Shutterstock