Cats are common pets throughout the world, and they have a habit of being rather territorial. Unfortunately, their status as a pet means they live near humans with abundant food and many wild animals that want a taste of it, even if it is from the trash. Raccoons are famous scavengers that can be found in backyards across the Americas and Europe, trying to get a bite to eat. That brings them into contact with cats, and it often ends in confrontations. So, what happens if your cat stumbles upon this nocturnal mammal? We’re going to show you which animal wins a cat vs raccoon fight!
Comparing a Cat and a Raccoon
|Size||Weight: 7lbs-10lbs |
Length 30in including tail
|Weight: 7lbs-20lbs |
Length: 16in-28in, up to 40in with tail
|Speed and Movement Type||– 30 mph |
– Very agile
|– 15 mph|
|Senses||– High vision in settings with low light |
– Among the best hearing in small mammals
– A sense of smell that is 10 times better than a human’s
|– Very strong hearing |
– High intelligence
– Powerful sense of smell
– Good night vision but poor long-distance vision and bad color vision
|Defenses||– Highly attuned senses makes it hard to sneak up on them |
|– Ability to climb trees with ease |
– Threat display of bluff charging
|Offensive Capabilities||– Bites and scratches with claws |
– Will seek to bite at the back of the head to instantly kill their prey
|– Claws sensitive areas like the eyes |
– Bites several times with long incisors that can deliver deep puncture wounds
– They mangle foes instead of going for a single killing blow.
|Predatory Behavior||– Ambush predator and opportunistic predator as wild animals||– Opportunistic predators that find food in their environment and then strike|
What Are Key Differences Between a Cat and a Raccoon?
The key differences between a cat and a raccoon are their size, senses, and predatory behaviors. Raccoons are bigger than cats. Most house cats only weigh between 7lbs and 10lbs, grow 10 inches tall, and measure 30 inches in length. However, raccoons can weigh upwards of 20lbs, stand 12 inches tall, and grow 40 inches in total length.
Also, cats are hunters that have excellent hearing, sight, and smell, but raccoons only have very good senses of smell and hearing. Their sense of sight is good at night, but it’s only useful over short distances and when they don’t need to discern colors.
Cats are ambush predators that strike out at their foes and try to end their fights with a single blow. However, raccoons are opportunistic predators that find prey in their habitats and kill them. Not only are these differences important in differentiating between the two animals, but it’s crucial to understanding how a fight between them would occur.
What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between a Cat and a Raccoon?
The key factors in a fight between a cat and raccoon are a mixture of physical traits and their ability to fight. That’s why we’re going to consider several important physical elements along with how these creatures defend themselves. By the time we’re done, we’ll have all the information needed to determine which animal is going to win a fight.
Cat vs Raccoon: Size
Raccoons are larger than cats in most cases. Size is a very important factor in any fight between animals, and raccoons are quite large. Raccoons can weigh up to 20lbs, stand one foot tall, and grow over three feet long. Cats weigh about 10lbs, grow 10 inches high, and measure 30 inches long including their tails.
Now, some cats, like the Maine coon, are larger breeds than average. The largest Maine coon measured about 4 feet long, but over a quarter of that was just its tail. They are more of a match for raccoons in terms of weight, too. Still, the average cat is smaller than a raccoon by a large margin.
Raccoons have the size advantage.
Cat vs Raccoon: Speed and Movement
Cats are much faster than raccoons. The average house cat can run at speeds of 30 mph over short distances, but raccoons only run at 15 mph. This difference in speed would allow the cat to catch the raccoon and overwhelm it with speed.
Cats have the speed advantage.
Cat vs Raccoon: Senses
Cats have very potent senses including vision, smell, and hearing. They are especially good at seeing at night and smelling objects in their environment. Raccoons are highly intelligent, have powerful hearing, and smell very well. Unfortunately, they are basically color-blind and cannot see well over long distances.
Cats have a sensory advantage over raccoons.
Cat vs Raccoon: Physical Defenses
Cats are capable of using their speed and agility to escape from most fights that they won’t win. They also have great senses, so it’s hard for something on the ground to get the drop on them. Raccoons are not as swift, but they can climb trees and use their bluff attacks as defenses to ward off foes.
Cats have better physical defenses than raccoons.
Cat vs Raccoon: Combat Skills
Cats are ambush predators, so they stalk prey and wait for the opportune moment before they strike. Yet, raccoons are merely opportunistic predators, so they find food in their living areas and go after it. Cats prefer to kill with a single bite to the back of an animal’s head, but raccoons maul their foes by clawing and biting vital areas.
Raccoons have superior combat skills in a fight that doesn’t start with an ambush.
Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Cat and a Raccoon?
A raccoon would win a fight against a cat. Raccoons are bigger than most cats, and it’s nearly impossible for the smaller animal to launch an attack that would kill the raccoon immediately. As such, the fight would break down into a desperate scramble, and the raccoon would win in that scenario.
Raccoons are better equipped to take and deal out damage. They use their claws to attack their prey’s eyes while biting deep into their prey’s body, puncturing organs and causing serious damage. All in all, it doesn’t seem possible that any cat would be able to mount a defense against such terrible odds.
What Animal Can Take Down a Raccoon?
There’s no doubt that habit of fighting dirty along with those sharp claws and fangs would stand the raccoon in good stead against a domestic feline. However, there is yet another opportunistic predator against which even such trump cards have their limits.
Enter the wily fox, with reflexes as sharp as the raccoon’s and senses just as keen too.
And should they eventually get to fangs, which would be most likely under the circumstances, the raccoon will find itself outclassed in this regard. The fox has a bit force of 307 psi which although less than half of the coyote’s 727 psi, is still pretty impressive compared to its dual-toned adversary whose jaws are only capable of inflicting 100 psi.
There is also the issue of speed with the fox being considerably faster compared to the raccoon with a speed of 30 mph, compared to the latter which only is only capable of reaching a top speed of 11 mph. The weight of the combatants would also be another deciding factor in the outcome of the confrontation and once again the fox comes out tops with a maximum weight potential of 38 lbs.
Add to that its natural athleticism rendering it capable of leaping over heights of more than 6 feet, and strong swimming skills and it becomes pretty clear that the raccoon would do well to avoid taking on the red-furred predator.
Bonus: Is it a Good Idea to Feed Raccoons?
If your pets live indoors and their chances of encountering a raccoon are slim – you may feel sorry for those cute masked robbers of garbage and birdseed. You may entertain the thought of leaving them a delicious treat like fresh watermelon that isn’t garbage. Unless you have the willpower to offer it only once and never again – you must resist this urge. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t feed raccoons:
- They may decide to just move in with you – rent-free! If raccoons are enjoying no-fuss, delicious food at your place on a regular basis – they may decide to move into your attic. This could cause costly damage to your house.
- Their friends and family will soon get word. One day you are feeding a raccoon – a week later a dozen show up with their paws out! If you call a wildlife pro to help – they will likely have to eliminate your raccoon friends for the safety of other self-supporting raccoons.
- Improper diet can lead to malnutrition. The lazy raccoon may depend on you for every meal and it may forget how to forage for itself. Unless you are following the raccoon food pyramid – your raccoon buddy may not get the proper nutrition it needs.
- It increases the probability of vehicular collision. If raccoons are hanging out at your house – they may be crossing the road to get there.
So, just don’t feed them. Raccoons that are dependent on humans can’t be relocated when they become a nuisance – only exterminated. You wouldn’t want to be responsible for that.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/JMrocek
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.