While the data suggest that furries are no more likely to experience significant dysfunction1 or reduced well-being2 compared to non-furry populations, we were nevertheless interested in the issue of disability within the furry fandom—how those with disabilities interacted with the furry fandom. This study involved the use of convention-based focus groups with those who considered themselves to have a disability of any type.3 Among those surveyed, the most common disabilities, displayed in the table below, were learning, communication, cognitive, and other mental disabilities. Other, more physical disabilities (e.g., acquired illness, brain injuries, and congenital conditions) were far less common, though they were present.
As the above figure below indicates,4 furries with disabilities used their fursonas for different functions, with some functions being more frequently adopted than others. In particular, the most popular fursona function for furries with disabilities was as a means of forgetting one’s condition, while hiding one’s condition when interacting with others was the second most popular function. Follow-up analyses revealed that furries were more likely to use their fursona to hide their disability during interactions if they had low self-esteem or if they experienced significant depression or anxiety. This suggests that the use of one’s fursona to interact with others might seem more feasible when one is experiencing significant distress or dissatisfaction with themselves. In contrast, the use of one’s fursona to temporarily forget about their condition was unrelated to their psychological well-being.