7.2 Animal Identification

Therians often define themselves as people who identify as a non-human animal, a definition which is distinct from that of furries, whose interest in anthropomorphic media does not necessitate identification with non-human animals. To test whether furries and therians differ significantly on this dimension, we’ve asked participants a number of questions about the nature of their attitudes toward their favorite animal species (e.g., fursona species, spirit guide).

In one study, furry and therian participants were asked to indicate the extent to which they identified with their fursona/special animal species on a 7-point scale. The figure above1 shows that therians identified significantly more with this species than furries did (M =5.60 vs. M = 6.60), providing some evidence that therians, more than furries, are defined by the strength of their identification with non-human animals.

Non-Therian Furries and Therians Responses to Animal Identification Items

GroupFeel Less than 100% Human?Physically Less than 100% Human?Mentally Less than 100% Human?What % Non-Human Do you Feel?

Would you be 0% Human if you Could?

Non-Therian Furries


* Note that in the above table, “Physically < 100% Human,” “Mentally < 100% Human,” and “% Non-Human” responses are displayed ONLY for participants who responded that they felt < 100% human.

In the same study, participants were asked questions pertaining to their feeling that they are less than 100% human and their wish to be 0% human if they could. The results above2 suggest that there is a dramatic difference between therians and non-therian furries: a genuine belief in a connection to animals that may include feelings of being not entirely human (or, at very least, of having aspects of one’s fursona within oneself). Therians report significantly stronger feelings than furries that they are less than 100% human. It should be noted that this isn’t delusion, however—therians aren’t necessarily looking down and “seeing paws” in place of their hands3 (more on this in 7.3, Nature of Connection to Species). Nearly everyone who felt less than 100% human reported that it was primarily feeling mentally less than 100% human, and far fewer said that it was a feeling of being physically non-human (although therians were 2-3 times more likely to state that they felt physically less than 100% human). Finally, therians reported feeling more “non-human” than furries and a greater desire to be 0% human than non-therian furries.

Further supporting the idea that therians differ from furries with regard to the extent to which they identify with animals and humans, furries were given a scale assessing the extent to which they identify with humans in a recent study4. Therians identified significantly less with humans than furries did, converging with prior findings that therians are less likely to say that they consider themselves to be 100% human.


  1. Furry Fiesta 2012 and International Online Survey III
  2. Furry Fiesta 2012 and International Online Survey III
  3. Furry Fiesta 2012 and International Online Survey III
  4. Anthrocon 2016 Study


  1. Matthew Harris

    I’m a therian and I’m new to the fandom I’m a fox I felt that way since I was a kid I this learned about what a therian I didn’t understand why I didn’t feel like a human all these years I thought there was something wrong with me it feels good to know I’m not the only one my fursona name is summer bluefox

    • kitty

      i am a cat. i may be a therian. it’s so good finding out that i am not alone i don’t have a fursona name (i don’t want one) summer bluefox you are awesome! don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

  2. Ivy

    I’m not sure if I am a therian or furry.

    • Admin

      They’re not mutually exclusive.

  3. Wolf VanZandt

    Aye. I’m a non-furry therians, but many of my therians acquaintances are furries. At least on the surface (what they tell me), therians feel more comfortable “coming out” as non-human in the furry community. I don’t necessarily mean that they’re open about being therians, but they feel freer to behave like non-human animals.

    Or maybe furries just have more fun

    • Admin

      The furry fandom is well-known for being inclusive and accepting, so it jibes with your experience that therians in the fandom would feel more open about themselves than outside the fandom, whether they also identify as furries notwithstanding.

  4. Wolf VanZandt

    That behavior exists elsewhere, too. Vampires aren’t goths but they’re drawn to the goth community because they can “be themselves” there more comfortably. In fact, in the past, there’s been a three-way overlap between the three communities. There used to be a forum – PathwaysToDarkness that was fairly popular for all three.


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