Are hyena cats or dogs?

Answered by James Kissner

Hyenas are neither cats nor dogs but belong to their own unique family called Hyaenidae. This family consists of four different species: the striped hyena, the spotted hyena, the brown hyena, and the aardwolf. Each of these species has its own distinct characteristics and traits.

The striped hyena is the smallest of the four species and is primarily found in North and East Africa, as well as the Middle East and India. It has a brownish-gray fur with vertical black stripes on its body, hence the name. Striped hyenas are primarily scavengers, feeding on carrion and occasionally hunting small prey.

The spotted hyena, also known as the “giggly” hyena due to its distinctive vocalizations, is the largest species of hyena. It is found in sub-Saharan Africa and is known for its robust build and powerful jaws. Spotted hyenas are highly social animals, living in large clans led by dominant females. They are skilled hunters and can take down large prey such as wildebeests and zebras.

The brown hyena is the rarest species of hyena and is found mainly in southern Africa. It has a shaggy brown coat and a more dog-like appearance compared to other hyenas. Brown hyenas are primarily scavengers but can also hunt small prey. They are solitary animals and have a more elusive nature compared to other hyenas.

The aardwolf, despite its name, is not a wolf but actually a member of the hyena family. It is the smallest of the four species and is found in eastern and southern Africa. Aardwolves have a yellowish-brown coat with vertical black stripes on their back and legs. Unlike other hyenas, aardwolves primarily feed on termites, using their long, sticky tongue to lap them up.

While hyenas may share some physical characteristics with cats and dogs, such as their fur and teeth, they have distinct differences that set them apart. Hyenas have a unique bone structure in their legs, giving them a distinctive gait. They also have a complex social structure, with spotted hyenas being matriarchal and the others having more solitary behaviors.

Hyenas are not cats or dogs but form their own family known as Hyaenidae. Each species within this family has its own unique characteristics and behaviors, making them fascinating and distinct creatures in the animal kingdom.