Hello, I'm Shetani the king cheetah! I've been an active member of the furry fandom since 2012, and fursuiting since 2014!
My character reference is here, and this is what my fursuit looks like.
If you take photos or video of me at a convention, please tag me on social media (see Links), or send them to me directly via the email or Telegram buttons below.
Catch my panel "Fursuiting in the Time of Quarantine" at an online furry con from the comfort of your own home!
Upcoming Virtual Events:
None at this time - check back later!
I began calling myself part of the furry fandom in 2012, though I had been following it for nearly a decade prior. A new friend and my partner finally convinced me to give in and make a fursona, and thus Shetani was born!
Shetani is a shy and nerdy yet passionate cheetah who loves tea, video games, fandoms, and cats.
Click the Fursona tab to learn more about her!
My fursuit was custom-made by MagpieBones in 2014. It is a use-your-own-eyes style fursuit that, as the name suggests, utilizes the wearer's actual eyes instead of fake eyes or mesh view ports. This gives me unparalleled field of vision and ventilation while allowing me to wear my prescription eyeglasses.
Me applying makeup around my eyes in preparation for a fursuit outing.
While there are quite a few UYOE fursuits out there, a special feature of my personal fursuit is that it also uses my own hair.
Click the Gallery tab to browse through a few of my more memorable fursuit looks.
To learn more about how my fursuit works and why I chose this style, check out this video.
A couple of the many hairstyles I have sported thanks to my specialized fursuit
My YouTube channel features lots of videos, including convention highlights, fursuit unboxings, and my newest series - Cheetah Chat with Shetani!
I attend at least one furry convention every year, and try to go to as many other cons as time and budget allows. Photos from my con trips can be found on my Weasyl. If you see me at a con, don’t be afraid to say hi - I need to make more furry friends! Please please please tag or send me any photos of me that you take, so I can remember the memories we shared!
I am most active on Twitter and Instagram, and use Weasyl for art, personal suit photos, and general fandom networking.
See my Links page for more!
Art by Lynxurious || Art by AlwaysRedArt
Shetani is a king cheetah who lives with her partner, a rat named Mika, and their pet kitten. The lot of the cheetah is to endure despite the many hardships life throws at them, and Shetani is no exception to this. Her kind heart and dependability are not to be mistaken for weakness; years of stress have left her with a low tolerance for nonsense, and she becomes downright fierce when the situation warrants. Though she has many casual acquaintances, there are but a handful of close friends she trusts deeply enough to be her true self around. Once one gets to know Shetani better, her initial demure and polite demeanor gives way to reveal a quick wit and unexpectedly sarcastic sense of humor. At a gathering, she's most likely to be found perusing the host's reading material, gushing over any pets present, or hovering near the refreshments providing a muttered dry commentary on the other guests to her plus-one.
Art by cellikeseggs || Art by AlwaysRedArt
Shetani finds that the "nerdy" label fits her quite comfortably. Her hobbies include reading, cosplaying, playing video games, listening to My Chemical Romance, maintaining her myriad of collections, and caring for animals - she particularly loves cats! Much of her day is spent managing a cat cafe, renowned in the community for its exotic teas and baked goods freshly made by Shetani herself. Nothing helps her wind down after a long day at work like some games or internet time and a nice hot cup of tea, followed by a bath bomb in the tub.
Art by birdlittle
Shetani's fashion sense is all about casual comfort. She practically lives in band tees or hoodies and leggings - her wardrobe has a legging color or pattern to match each of her many vintage My Chemical Romance tops. Summertime sees Shetani switch to cutoff shorts, with or without tights, along with her favorite graphic tees. She's extremely proud of her long wavy hair, and will dye it bright colors for extra flair. In winter, she loves cuddling up in an oversized knit sweater and thigh-high paw-socks (bottoms optional if she's staying at home). Because of her non-retractile cheetah claws, she doesn't wear shoes unless they're modified to accommodate - cosplay being the only exception. She relishes wearing goth attire for a night on the town, and with her naturally black lips and claws, she just needs to throw on some eyeshadow to accentuate something like a black bell-sleeve top, corset, and velvet pants with open-toed paw boots. She sleeps in matching pajama sets or a nightgown, and wears a one-piece bathing suit for swimming.
The flag of Jubatajan. Art by CroccoStyle.
Shetani is the only child of a cheetah father and a domestic cat mother. Her father, a spiritual man, was overjoyed upon seeing his daughter's blotchy fur. According to beliefs, the king cheetah fur pattern was a trait that had been passed down among the females of his family, and indicated that their family's lineage could be traced back to the First Cheetah herself. The splotchy-spotted and striped coat appeared only once a generation and heralded extrasensory powers in its bearer, including prophetic dreams.
A young Shetani lost in her favorite book. Art by Skelisteri.
Little Shetani was a shy cub, but very intelligent with a thirst for knowledge. When she was about six years old, her father received news from back home that one of his sisters had given birth to a king-patterned daughter. This came as quite a shock for Shetani's father, who urged his young cub to try and "fulfill her potential," but it quickly became apparent that this cousin of Shetani's had received the blessing, and Shetani herself carried nothing more than a distinctly patterned coat. Instead, she threw herself headlong into her studies in an attempt to please her father, and while there was no resentment between them, Shetani always felt that he was disappointed in her for not living up to his expectations.
Shetani studying. Art by Seasaidh.
Aside from that, Shetani's youth was happy and uneventful. She flourished academically - always coming in top of her class - and though not "popular" in the traditional sense, she had a close-knit group of friends about her and was never treated unfairly by her peers. When not studying, she took pleasure in reading and learning more about nature and animals. As a teenager, she got into the occasional spat with her mother, but kept her grades up and stayed out of trouble (preferring to listen to music or play video games than go out on the town).
Shetani, Mika, and their kitten. Art by Rowan00.
Having graduated high school, Shetani pursued higher education with her sights set on the field of zoology, and those who knew her had nothing but the highest expectations. However, her plans ground to a halt when her mother fell seriously ill. A devastated Shetani dropped out of school and returned home to help her father care for her ailing mother. She took a receptionist job at a reproductive health clinic to help with the bills, where she met her partner, a rat named Mika. Shetani reconnected with her hometown friends, who introduced her to the world of fandoms and cosplaying. Escaping into the fantasy worlds she loved and attending conventions with her friends and partner helped Shetani cope with the stress of her home life.
Sampling the cafe's menu during downtime. Art by Poodlewool.
After Shetani's mother passed away, her father returned to his home country to be with his family. Shetani moved with Mika into a place of their own, with a pet kitten making three. After some time, she decided to open a cat cafe. The establishment built a name for itself among feline aficionados, and the exotic teas and baked goods freshly made by Shetani herself attracted regular cafe-goers as well. At the behest of her regulars, Shetani expanded the warm and cozy establishment by adding shelves of books in the cafe section for patrons to borrow, bring home, and donate at their leisure, and the cafe also began hosting community-focused events, including punk nights every Friday and an LGBTQ+ social on the weekends. Mika helps out at the cafe too, washing dishes and cleaning up after their two- and four-legged clientele alike. Eschewing any lofty aspirations, Shetani is fulfilled and content with a life that allows her to pursue her hobbies and be with the people she cares about - as long as she gets a little vacation now and then!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How did you find the furry fandom?
A: I've loved animals since I was a child, so it was a natural progression from there. Growing up, I was enamored with films, cartoons, and books that featured animal characters. In the early 2000s, I discovered fanart of The Lion King on DeviantArt and other sites, and from there I came across anthropomorphic art. I learned quickly that furries were mocked and looked down upon by the majority of the internet, and later, the world at large. While I still consumed art and kept up-to-date with the community, I did so in secret and took great pains to never label or associate myself with furries. It wasn't until a heartfelt conversation with a college classmate decades later that I realized being a furry wasn't anything to be ashamed of. I started dating another furry around that time, who convinced me to finally bring Shetani to life.
In ▶️Cheetah Chat #2, I further discuss my discovery of the fandom and what it means to be a furry.
Q: Your fursona is so cute! How did you come up with her?
A: She's really just myself as my favorite animal! I've loved cheetahs since I was young, and as an adult, I find myself relating a lot to them. I chose a king cheetah in particular because Shetani doesn't have any unnatural markings or coloring, and I wanted her to stand out a bit more. Her physical appearance, personality, interests, and wardrobe are all reflections of myself, so compliments and positive comments are twice as meaningful to me! Her name was meant as an obscure reference to something unrelated, but I take pride in how I've redefined it as something uniquely my own.
I talk more about the thought behind Shetani's design in ▶️Cheetah Chat #1.
Q: Why do you like cheetahs so much? / Why did you pick a cheetah?
A: As I mentioned, cheetahs have been my favorite animal since childhood. Out of all the big cats, I was drawn to cheetahs in particular because of how unique they are. They are the only big cats with non-retractile claws, can purr but not roar, are in a genus all their own, etc. In an inversion of the typical story you hear from furries, I initially didn't feel connected to cheetahs on more than a surface level. As I matured and progressed through life, I found myself heavily relating to many of their defining aspects, most notably how they endure a great deal of hardship and injustice yet continue to persevere. You should message me sometime so I can talk your ear off about it! :3
Q: Do you roleplay?
A: I do RP, but I charge for my time, the same way artists charge money when drawing a picture for somebody else. Drop me a line if you're interested in paying for a RP session!
Q: Who made your fursuit?
A: My fursuit was made by the lovely MagpieBones.
Q: Why doesn't your fursuit have eyes?
A: It does - they are my own eyes. :) MagpieBones's fursuits are intended to be blended with the wearer's actual eyes using makeup to create a realistic effect. When the fursuit is a darker color, the look is almost seamless.
Q: Is that your real hair coming out of the suit head?
A: Yes! By request, my fursuit uses my own hair in addition to my own eyes. Its color and length may vary depending on what I decide to do with it, but it's always my actual hair. Having a fursuit that "auto-updates" when I change my look is super convenient!
Q: What made you choose this style of fursuit?
A: I went with a MagpieBones fursuit for several reasons, including realism, aesthetic, and practicality. I love my eyes, my hair, and my glasses, so I gave those physical attributes to my fursona - and they would need to be represented in a fursuit of her. Hiding my glasses and hair under a fursuit head and attaching false versions of both would be redundant, not to mention unsightly and high-maintenance. I had dealt with concealing my hair under wigs for years when I cosplayed, and it's an uncomfortable, cumbersome process that I didn't want to go through again with my fursuit.
After a ton of research, I decided on MagpieBones for her specialized experience, ability to work with my unique requirements, and creative vision that aligned with my own. This kind of fursuit is not for everyone, but it suits my needs perfectly (pun intended).
I speak at length about my fursuit and why I chose it in ▶️Cheetah Chat #5.
Q: Will you do a suiting up video or face reveal? Can you show how your fursuit works?
A: Nope, I prefer to avoid depicting myself online out of suit. If you look at MagpieBones's gallery, there are many photos of fursuit heads (including Shetani's!) on mannequins, which should give you a good idea of how they are put on. There are some suiting up videos on YouTube from other MagpieBones suiters, though you won't be seeing one from me anytime soon.
Q: Why don't you do something different with your hairstyle, eye makeup, clothing, glasses...? I, Internet Stranger #456, would like your fursuit a lot better if you did that.
A: Okay, intent is key here. I appreciate that Shetani evokes such an engaging response in people, and I understand that folks who make these suggestions usually mean well. Though I do read every comment and message I receive, the unsolicited opinions of strangers are super irrelevant to me. Things like hairstyle or fashion suggestions are fun!
Do keep in mind that Shetani is a personal original character, and I present myself the way I choose. I wear this costume for my own satisfaction, not for public approval. My existence is not an invitation for critique. Statements that imply conformity or stripping me of what makes me unique (e.g. "put fake eyes in it," "cut off your hair") are ignorant and should be kept to oneself. If I wanted a fursuit that looked mainstream, I would have bought one of those in the first place. No aspects of my fursuit's design were by chance. Please be mindful that some features may have been designed with a specific intent or accommodation, and I don't necessarily need to disclose or justify that to everyone.
Q: "Cat-eye" or colored contact lenses would look so cool with your fursuit, why don't you wear them?
A: Why should I? My eyes are already a strikingly close match to a real cheetah's. Cheetahs and domestic cats have entirely different pupil shapes and eye colors. Cat eye contacts would look fake and gross on me!
By the way, I'm physically unable to wear contact lenses, hence the necessity of my eyeglasses, and (one of the reasons) why I selected MagpieBones to be my fursuit maker.
Q: Can I draw you fanart?
A: I'd be honored! Here is Shetani's Refsheet.
I upload all art I get to my Toyhouse gallery.
Hit me up if you're on Instagram and I'll add your art to my fanart highlight!
Q: Will you make a video about (insert topic here)?
A: I love to hear about what interests you folks, and am always taking suggestions for future Cheetah Chat episodes! I used to have a "sponsor-a-topic" option on my Patreon and Ko-Fi pages, but no one ever took me up on that. So for now, I'll consider all requests as long I have some amount of knowledge or experience on the subject. For example, I wouldn't discuss how to make a fursuit (since I have never made one), or what the furry fandom was like in the '80s (since I wasn't in the fandom at that time). If such a topic is repeatedly requested, I might have a special guest in that field or demographic come on for an episode.
Q: Can I interview you for a documentary, podcast, school project, etc.?
A: Yes! I have been interviewed for a few different productions, as well as doing script consultation work for films pertaining to the furry fandom. Contact me via the email listed near the bottom of this page to discuss your project further.
Q: Would you recommend a use-your-own-eyes fursuit?
A: UYOE suits, and the work of MagpieBones in particular, appeal to a niche subset of people. You must have a certain measure of fearlessness to wear a fursuit like this. In all cases, when considering a fursuit, think carefully about what goals you want to accomplish with your suiting, the way you wish to be perceived by others, and how prepared you are to deal with the limitations and quirks that come with it.
Every costume has its own benefits and drawbacks. This might not be the right choice for someone who:
-- has a cutesy character and wants to appear approachable and endearing to everyone they meet (e.g. working with kids, charity volunteering)
-- is very shy and seeks to hide their true self when fursuiting
-- wants a fursuit for popularity
-- is easily upset when on the receiving end of criticism, rudeness, or negativity
Q: You look like you've come straight out of Zootopia, Beastars, Bojack Horseman, or some other pop culture thing!
A: I started doing my thing much before any of those media series existed. The concept of realistic anthro fursuits has been around for even longer! Though I appreciate the sentiment and try my best to see it as the compliment it's intended to be, being called "a character from such-and-such" tends not to sit well with me. Shetani is a unique self-representation, not a derivative character based on another person's work, and I feel such comparisons cheapen the years of time, effort, creativity, and personal connection I put into the creation of my fursona.
Q: What's your take on poodling¹?
A: As someone frequently met with backlash due to the style of fursuit I've chosen, it would be immensely hypocritical of me to police how others express themselves. There is no right or wrong way to wear a fursuit, cosplay, or any other costume - it's just for fun! Unless this is your job and the person complain is your boss, neither they nor anyone else has the right to tell you how to wear YOUR suit that YOU own.
I don't display bare skin when fursuiting, as an aesthetic choice, as well as for my own safety and privacy. However, that doesn't mean folks who do so are wrong, as they themselves have valid reasons for their conscientious decision. Personal opinions should never be used to dictate other people's behavior.
¹Poodling: wearing any combination of fursuit parts with revealing clothing in a way that bare human skin is intentionally visible. (Example)
Q: How can I help support you?
A: If you're financially able to donate, I have an online tip jar on Ko-Fi. Your generosity helps fund things like the production of my videos and photoshoots, purchasing equipment and costumes, hosting this ad-free website, and just enabling me to try bigger and better things!
Are physical goods more your cup of tea? Click here to purchase (or trade for) a collectible enamel pin of Shetani, made by Fursona Pins!
Of course, the easiest way to help me out is simply by following me on social media and sharing my content with your friends.
I'm so very grateful for all of your support!
Fursona Pin #176 - Shetani
Click here to buy
Click here for convention pickup
Click here to trade
Thank you all for the interest in my pins over the past several years. After the International Cheetah Day 2020 Fundraiser, where my very last pins were made available for donations to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, I've completely sold out and Shetani is officially a retired pin!
Missed the chance to grab one of your own? Send me a message and let me know you want more Shetani pins! If there's enough demand, I may be able to do a second run of pins in the future.
Pin provided by FursonaPins.com
My fursuit was custom-built in 2014 by MagpieBones.
This style is known as a use-your-own-eyes (UYOE) fursuit. By special request, my fursuit uses my own hair as well.
Scroll through to see just a few of the many looks I can achieve as Shetani with this unique and versatile fursuit!
Personal photoshoot - 2019
Shirt c/o Cryptovolans
Personal photoshoot - 2018
Photography by DINKIN
Anthrocon - 2017
Photography by SeikoLiz
Anthro New England - 2018
Photography by Sunstab
Anthrocon - 2019
Photography by SquirrelySnaps
Cosplay photoshoot - 2018
Carbon Fiber D.Va from Overwatch
Anthro New England - 2019
Photography by PineRaven
Anthrocon - 2019
Photography by Dragonscales
Personal photoshoot - 2020
Halloween - 2018
A group of cheetahs is called a coalition! I've been collecting plush cheetahs since I was little. Allow me to introduce you to all the stuffed animals in my collection!
Brand: Jungle Joe's Safari Friends
Acquired: 1998 or later
She says "I'm Charo, a cheetah with attitude" and makes a wildcat scream when you squeeze her. As a child, I would play wildlife refuge in the backyard with all the African animals in my stuffed animal collection, and Charo was my very favorite. I always made sure to take special care of her and keep her from getting dirty. She came with her name.
Brand: Disney Animal Kingdom
I got this plush on a vacation to Disney World with my family. The bow around her neck was added by me. She's named after a cheetah character I made up when I was younger.
Brand: Cavanagh Coca Cola International Collection
Acquired: 1999 or later
Heeta represents the country of Namibia in a series of 50 bean bags corresponding with nations around the world that serve Coca-Cola. She came with her name.
Brand: Ty Classic
Piston is a Ty Classic plush I've had since I was young. He came with his name.
Name: Baby Hansa
Brand: Hansa Portraits of Nature
Hansa is known for their lifelike stuffed animals. This plush's mane is so soft and he looks just like a real cheetah cub! He was purchased from a vendor's catalog at FA:U and arrived in the mail a few days later. His name, as you may have guessed, comes from his brand.
Name: Mama Cheetah
Brand: Melissa & Doug
This fully life sized plush was a gift from my partner to celebrate our first furry con together, FA:U 2012. I drew so much attention carrying her out of the crowded Dealer's Den and through the lobby of the hotel on the last day of the convention. Mama is nearly three feet tall! I think of her as Baby Hansa's mother.
Brand: Build-A-Bear WWF
Jasiri belongs to a limited series of stuffed animals that could be made at Build-A-Bear Workshop, with proceeds donated to the World Wildlife Fund. I purchased him on eBay! His name is the Swahili word for "brave", and he's named after a cheetah in the furry fandom who is a rather prolific art-commissioner.
Brand: PansonWorks BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS！
Hashire, or Hashi for short, is one of the more unique cheetahs in my collection. I bought him from a vendor at the AnimeNext convention. His name is from the Japanese word meaning "to run."
Brand: GANZ - Webkinz Signature Collection
This cute plush is another eBay find. He's named after another cheetah in the furry fandom who has the same exact stuffed animal. I brought him with me to Anthrocon in 2014, but I sadly did not run into his namesake there.
This plush was purchased during Anthrocon. Designated "Chillin' Cheetah" by the maker, I renamed him after a fursuiter I encountered there.
Katie is the crown jewel of my collection! This plush came packaged with limited versions of the Kinectimals game. Until Disney introduced their character Fuli in The Lion Guard (and subsequently made toys of her), this was the ONLY official plush of a king cheetah in existence. A valuable item at the time, I managed to pick her up at New York Comic-Con in 2013 for a steal. She's named after a super cute artist I met at the con.
This cub was bought in an eBay lot. At the time, I was playing Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, and she's named after my favorite character in that game, James Kidd aka Mary Read. I gave her a piece o' pirate booty to wear around her neck.
Brand: K&M International
This scruffy feller was a bonus that came in a lot of Lion King toys I bought from eBay. He appears to be a very old (or at least well-loved) K&M International plush. After all this time, I still haven't come up with a name for him. Any suggestions?
Brand: Applause - Disney
Deja's a Lion King plush from the movie's original theatrical release. I bought him off a user on Furbuy, and he's very well loved! I was very glad to finally get my hands on him, because he's the only official TLK cheetah plush. He's named after Andreas Deja, the supervising animator for Scar.
Brand: Ty Beanie Babies
This is one of just two cheetah Beanie Babies made. She was given to me by a friend, who let her do a lot of basking in the sun before she came to me, so my Chessie is a little discolored from sunlight. She came with her name.
Brand: Wild Republic Cuddlekins
I got this plush at a Rainforest Cafe in the mall. Shasta came along with me to Anthrocon 2016! She went without a name for a while, until my partner helped me pick one out.
Brand: WWF Wild Tales
This little guy was a souvenir from a trip to Turkey I took in 2015. His name comes from a Turkish phrase meaning "bon appetit."
Brand: FAO Schwarz
Received as a Christmas gift from her mother, this plush technically belongs to my partner, though she's graciously allowed me to share joint custody. Now that the two of us live together, so does Ankala, and I'm happy to call her part of my coalition. Her namesake is my partner's character in Fallout 2.
Everyone knows Clawhauser, the chubby cheetah receptionist from Disney's film Zootopia. This plush is part of their Tsum Tsum line, which can be collected, stacked atop each other, and even used to clean your laptop or phone screen.
During my Anthrocon trip, I visited the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium and got to see their two male cheetahs! This fella came home with me from the zoo gift shop. His name, which means "let's go" in Italian, is also the name of one of the cheetahs I saw that day.
Garage sale rescue! She came with her name.
Brand: Aurora World
This cheetah is another souvenir from the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, this time from my 2019 Anthrocon trip. I named her after another of the Pittsburgh Zoo cheetahs.
Brand: Little Brownie Bakers
As far as I can tell, this plush was a reward for selling Girl Scout cookies during the 2014-2015 season. Though her assigned name is Amaze, she represents the Samoa cookie, so that's what I call her.
Brand: Viahart - Tiger Tale Toys
This cheetah was a holiday present from a friend. She came with her name. Casey likes to hang out on the back of the couch and supervise me while I edit my videos and pictures.
Though it's now rather outdated, I made a video in 2017 showing off all my plush cheetahs I owned at that time! Watch on YouTube below!
Essays and Convention Reports
This page is MASSIVELY under construction as I reformat and port over all my convention reports from the past 8 years! Please keep an eye on this space!
Keep Furry Weird
The Furry Communication Divide
Be Yourself - No, Not Like That
The Day I Got My Fursuit (coming soon)
Children in the Furry Fandom (coming soon)
FurAffinity United 2012
Megaplex Online 2020
Keep Furry Weird
The following is a direct transcript of my Cheetah Chat web-series episode entitled "Keep Furry Weird." Though I highly recommend watching in its intended video format - the video is subtitled for accessibility - it was requested for me to post a transcript online as well.
Hey everyone, it's Shetani, and welcome to episode 11 of Cheetah Chat!
Furries don't need more attention from the mainstream media, but it's happening whether we like it or not. It seems like every week there's a new article or documentary from outsiders trying to make sense of the furry fandom. There's even been furries featured in national ad campaigns, and talk of furry cons being sponsored by really big-name corporations. Whenever this happens, the fandom at large tends to get excited at being thrust into the spotlight. But could all that attention actually be bad for us?
In short, yeah, or at least I think so. If you think at all that it's cool for the furry fandom to get attention from brands, mainstream media, corporations... please just take the next couple minutes to listen to what I have to say.
For an example of how bad it could get, just take a look at what has happened to the comic book fandom. I can speak from personal experience, as someone who used to attend New York Comic-Con, and I can say that it has become almost completely unrecognizable from what it was when I first started going. Comic conventions these days are more of an expo for major video game studios, movie companies, and entertainment corporations to push their newest big and exciting products. Comics themselves take a backseat, with artist alleys shrinking or even disappearing completely to make way for big booths selling Funko Pops of the very characters whose artists can no longer get themselves a table. Brands that come to furry to sell their stuff are going to push legitimate creators out of the fandom. A lot of the furry content available right now is handmade stuff from fellow furries who have a real passion for it. If a big company comes in and starts pumping out cheap furry t-shirts, photography, music, even fursuits, there is no way those small independent artists will be able to compete.
Cosplay has been latched onto by the mainstream too. That's actually where I got my start, and if it weren't for my time cosplaying, I wouldn't be fursuiting today. When companies saw that money could be made on cosplayers, they started sponsoring reality TV shows and cosplay championships at conventions to really push the professional, high-stakes aspect of the hobby. It's no longer just something you do for fun to show your love for the characters. On one hand, it's cool that you can just buy Worbla in JoAnn's now, but nowadays cosplayers are expected to hold to such high standards. People are starting to get really ruthless and elitist, criticising cosplayers for the way they look or the quality of their costumes. I would really hate for that to start happening within the fursuiting community - well, more than it already is.
I actually stopped going to comic cons in favor of just furry cons because it got way too big and stopped being fun for me. The furry fandom has always been centered on the individuals that make up the fandom itself. I keep saying that the furry fandom is for us, by us, and it's really true. So when I see something like big shoe companies paying fursuiters to appear in their ads, and being named the "official sponsor" of furry conventions, it makes me more than a little wary.
An argument I hear a lot is: "You know, Shetani, cons need money to run, and a corporate sponsorship might be the only way for a little convention to get the funding they need to stay alive. Don't you want furry cons to be successful?"
Of course I do. The more furry cons there are, the more accessible the fandom becomes for furries all around the world - especially places where there might not be a very large furry population. But reliance on a corporate sponsor for funding gives them the power to dictate the con's behavior. If they decide aspects of the furry fandom might hurt their brand image, they could withhold their money as a bargaining chip to get the con to... make those uncomfortable things go away. And censorship is one thing that we furries simply cannot abide.
Furry being sterilized and mass marketed would kill the independent and diverse space we've all worked together to build.
Corporations do not get involved to help out the little guy or make things better for us. Their only goal is to expand their brand and make more money. The way they do this is by placing copyrights and patents on things and ideas, to keep them out of the hands of the common person... unless they want to pay the company.
Remember that Subway menu board outside Anthrocon that everyone was laughing at for their bizarrely pandering sandwich names like "tuna salad Majira" and "Italian meatball Booker Fox" or whatever? If we don't block corporations from inserting themselves into our market, this could very well happen.
So much of our fandom is based on the sharing of knowledge and ideas. Art tips, costume building techniques, keychain and pin manufacturing, everything. There have been communities built around this for decades. If a corporation comes in and copyrights a method, all that goes away.
For example, a fursuit maker by the name of yellow_fr3ak developed a fursuit paw pattern that they decided to release for free, for anyone to use. How many fursuit makers do you see using that method in their costumes? Imagine if a company put a patent on that. Now NO ONE is allowed to make fursuit paws that way.
They can do that for anything - methods of crafting things, popular characters, certain styles of costumes, you name it. And not a single one of us would have the money to fight them in court. That's what they're counting on.
Furry is one of, if not THE only fandom left whose conventions still revolve around the fans that make up the fandom, rather than the corporations who create the mass media the fans consume. In other fandoms, you see people spending money on merchandise of their favorite characters, but there isn't really an equivalent of that for furry. Fandom-related spending for furry stuff pretty much has to be on stuff made by other members of the fandom. And 99% of the time, that stuff is hand-made, and the money goes directly to the creator. A lot of us in the furry fandom are disabled, POC, low-income, LGBTQ+, or part of other marginalized communities, so by keeping it within the fandom, we're directly supporting our own, raising them up with a self-sustaining system. It's one of the things I love most about the furry fandom.
Outsiders have been fascinated with, and misunderstanding of, furries for decades. Sensationalism sells, and when journalists turn their eyes towards us, it creates a problem. Take a look at Anthrocon, one of the biggest furry cons in the world, and certainly the one with the most positive public image. They have done a great job of integrating furries with the city, and bridging that understanding gap between furries and non-furs! But they are also one of the strictest when it comes to who's allowed to talk to the press, and what kinds of things they are allowed to mention.
A sanitized story is more palatable, but it also doesn't tell the whole story of what the furry subculture entails for a lot of us. The same goes for documentaries and interviews who try to encapsulate the furry story into one little bite-sized narrative that fits the angle they're going for. That's the problem with this sort of media coverage. Every one of us is in the fandom for our own reasons, and for that reason, there will never be one concrete definition of the fandom. Bring up the adult aspects, and you get waves of furries clambering over each other to shout "We're not all like that!" Push a family-friendly wholesome tale of volunteering and kid-hugging, and you alienate furries like myself for whom that isn't part of our experience at all. Sidestepping tricky topics like kink, sexuality and gender that are a fundamental part of the experience for many furries, and you present a disingenuous narrative that erases many of the most unique, integral parts of our fandom. Any way you look at it, attention from the mainstream just ends in furries being more misunderstood.
It's hard being unable to talk about something so important to you for fear of being ridiculed or lambasted. There's a reason many furries misapporpriate terms like being "closeted" about their hobby or scared to be "outed" as a furry to family or coworkers. I can understand why furries get excited whenever a positive talk piece comes out about the fandom - it brings us one step closer to public acceptance. But why do we need that - to be accepted by the mainstream? It only puts more attention on us from those who would seek to exploit. People don't question other interests like sports or video games, for some reason it's just furries who draw the scrutiny of the public. No one ever stops to psychoanalyze why sports fans spend thousands of dollars on season tickets and dress in the jerseys of their favorite players and fill their homes with team memorabilia. It's perfectly acceptable to be a gamer who is constantly roleplaying through different fictional narratives and creating a custom representation of themselves to interact in fantasy worlds with other people, but getting a drawing of yourself as an imaginary dog person, now that's weird. Furry is on the same playing field as any other hobby. If people draw a distinction in their minds, that's their problem that they need to sort out. They have a problem with how they see us, it's not on us to change how we are.
The fandom is a safe space for a lot of people who don't fit in anywhere else, to find other like-minded individuals and build a community where we know we will be understood and accepted. Why would we want to appeal to outsiders who would never understand what it's like? Furry is about being yourself, unique and unconventional and completely off-the-wall. I'm a curvy queer woman with dyed hair who collects nerdy stuff and wears a cheetah costume that even other furries call weird. Do you think I really care about what the Karens of the world think of me? Hell no! The way I choose to speak, act, present myself, and spend my time is entirely up to me, and if other people take issue with that, well, that's a problem with them.
So how do we fight this?
Embrace your weirdness. Be strange, be kinky, be loud, be unmarketable. Don't celebrate attention from brands or TV networks. Stop trying to appease, seek the approval of, and draw in non-furries. We are a community, here for ourselves and each other. Support your local small businesses, artists, fursuit makers, FELLOW COMMUNITY MEMBERS. And above all, KEEP FURRY WEIRD.
Cheetah Chat is powered by tea! Thank you to Niko and Blu the Foxdog for sponsoring my cup of tea for this episode. Today's episode was a bit of a doozy, so I've got the biggest mug I own right here, which also features some very cute little golden cheetahs, filled with my signature house blend of black teas with cardamom sweetened with a little honey.
If you like what I do and wanna show your support, please consider donating to me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. Links to both are in the video description. Not only will you be helping me make more videos like this, you can also influence the stuff I put out as well as get some really awesome goodies for your patronage.
As always, don't forget to subscribe to my channel if you haven't already, so you don't miss my next video. I do these for fun in my spare time, or whenever someone donates. Therefore, if you're looking to keep up-to-date on all things Shetani, I highly suggest you follow me on Twitter, or even Instagram, where I post a picture every week for Fursuit Friday and more in-between.
Well, looks like that's about it for this cup! I'm Shetani, you're awesome, and until next time, stay sweet.
The Day I Got My Fursuit
"Tell me about the day you got your fursuit. What did it feel like to suit up for the first time?"
The day I received my fursuit
I took each piece - the plush huggable tail, the paws with their delicate claws, long expanses of armsleeve fur begging to be stroked, and that delicate work of art, the head itself - in my hands and inspected them countless times. I wanted so badly to put them on, but with no one around to assist me, I knew I couldn't yet. There was no precedent for how to put on a use-your-own-hair fursuit, and I was
At the time, there was no one around to help me get suited up for the very first time.
The Furry Communication Divide
I, and others in the furry fandom, have received pushback from stating we prefer to interact with peers within our own age group as opposed to the younger crowd. In chatting online more due to this pandemic, I think I've uncovered a crucial realization of why that is, at least in part. It has to do with the way we communicate.
(NB: there are way more contributing factors at play here, like maturity level, shared life experience, difference of interests, and what both parties want to get out of the interaction. I'm only going to be discussing the way in which we talk to each other via text format.)
Those of us who cut our teeth on the internet of the early 2000s and previous did much networking via email, forums, and message boards. These platforms promoted quality and content over response time. People weren't online constantly, and you understood that whoever you were talking to might not get a chance to read your message until the next day or even longer, so you made sure that what you were writing would be worth their time to read! Messages conveyed a lot of information and often touched on multiple topics for the other person to respond to at their leisure. They tended to read a lot like short-form essays or physical letters (remember those?). Due to the relative infrequency of contact, you wanted to provide your conversation partner with a solid base for their response to your post. Without the pressure of replying immediately, chatters had the opportunity to consider their words and formulate the best possible reply, leaving the other person with their choice of topic threads to pursue.
Teens and others who grew up during the current age of social media and instant messaging prioritize responsiveness over discussion. What's important is being available and having something to say - even if that something is a whole lot of nothing. With a smartphone in almost everyone's pocket, these folks are used to their chat partners being online and ready to talk at multiple points during the day, if not constantly. Chats between them are liable to resemble a ping-pong game of short, rapid back-and-forths. They are more likely to send what I refer to as "ping" messages - not continuing a discussion, just seeking a response or confirmation that their partner is there. These most frequently come in the form of emojis, Telegram stickers devoid of any supporting text, or short salutations along the lines of "hey," "woof," or "*pokes you*". Conversation can remain on a small talk level for a very long time before eventually breaking the ice into a deeper connection (I assume, I have very little experience with how these types of relationships operate). I freely admit that I'm unsure how these folks ascertain when they have crossed the threshold between "acquaintances" and "friends." Perhaps one receives a certificate once a certain number of hours staring at an open Telegram chat has been logged? (I kid.)
This is not a communication style that meshes well with me. When someone messages me out of the blue wanting to chat, I don't know anything about them or what common ground we'll share upon which to build a conversation. For me, having a surface level chat like "hey what's up" "nm just chilling, you?" "haha same" is not how I discover how to connect with somebody. Chatting like this isn't fun for me, and the part of the discussion where I have to slog through the small talk (and explain to someone 12 years my junior that that's not how I operate) leaves me feeling that my time's being wasted.
When chatting with a new acquaintance, I like to offer several possible topic threads for them to pick up. When those are replied to with short sentences or generic reactions ("oh that's cool" or the infamous "oof"), you're not giving me anything to continue the conversation with. This is especially the case if the person doesn't follow up with a question or topic of their own. Having a message where I'm opening up to a new person, or sharing something I'm genuinely passionate about, be essentially disregarded is extremely invalidating.
Trying to get a person from the second communication group to chat with me on my level feels like pulling teeth. A conversation like this becomes one-sided very quickly and I don't often feel motivated to put effort into continuing to try and drag a response out of my partner.
Folks from the second communication style can find the first group's info-dump messages overwhelming and time-consuming. People from the first group can get irritated by the second group's need for constant contact and lack of material to work with. It's a fact that not all furries (or on a macro scale, people), communicate online in the same way. It stands to reason that people would prefer and seek out those that speak the same "language" as them. A conversation works best when both parties are on the same wavelength. While correlation is not causation, a fact of the matter is that someone's age bracket is very likely an indicator of their online communication style.
Out in public, we're forced to interact with all kinds of people to do our jobs, meet basic needs, and go about our daily routines. Online, we have the option of choosing who we share our leisure time with. This shouldn't be seen as an exclusionary practice. Other furries are not entitled to your attention simply by virtue of sharing a common interest or hobby.
Be Yourself - No, Not Like That
CONFORM - by red_snow_leopard
Originally posted on Weasyl.
I've spent 6+ years as a fursuiter in this fandom and need to get some things off my chest. Visual art is what draws people's attention in this community, but the sentiment behind the image is just as important. I appreciate your patience and attention as you take in what I have to say.
I have an, at this time, unique hyper-realistic fursuit that incorporates my real eyes and hair into the costume. I love my fursuit and couldn't be happier with it, but obviously, it's something extremely niche, quite the opposite of the cute and cartoony fursuits that attract most members of the fandom. Over the years, I've received a fair bit of unwanted criticism, backhanded compliments, and outright insults about my choice of fursuit style. I have been called ugly, creepy, gross, cringe, horrifying, "not a real fursuit(er)," and other less savory things that don't bear mentioning. I've had people say I should cut my hair off, wear contact lenses, and even tell me to get fake eyes put into my fursuit, as though I didn't actively choose to purchase a fursuit like this based on my own preferences.
Of all the realistic features of my suit, my eyes are what draw the most attention, for better or worse. Until now I've been telling people that I chose a use-your-own-eyes fursuit because of my vision impairments, to avoid the redundancy of putting fake glasses on a bigger and uglier fursuit head with my prescription ones hidden away beneath. While this is completely true, I haven't spoken before about the more personal reasons for doing so. I was put off getting a fursuit for so long because the vast majority, even realistic ones, don't really feel alive because of their static facial expressions. Shetani is not a theme park mascot or a cartoon and I don't envision her as such; she is a representation of myself as an animal. When I fursuit, I'm not being an individual playing a fictional character, I'm still me - albeit a little fuzzier. I want people I meet to feel like they are talking not to the costume, but the person within, and make that interpersonal connection. It's said that the eyes are the window to the soul, and I love how I have been given so much freedom of expression and emotion by showing my eyes when I fursuit. Some of the most impactful people in my life tell me that my eyes are striking, beautiful, and breathtaking - who wouldn't want to include that in a representation of themselves? My eyes are as integral an element of my fursona's design as her hair or species.
In a fandom supposedly based in acceptance and tolerance of individuality, I'm disappointed by how much close-mindedness I encounter, not from non-furries, but from fellow community members. For years, I was afraid to call myself a furry because I would be shunned and mocked by people outside the fandom - it is a bitter irony that the bulk of the harassment targeting me today comes from other furries. The phrase "Be yourself - no, not like that" is frequently tossed around as a humorous punchline, but as is often the case, its basis in reality makes it all the more poignant. I can't help but get aggravated every time I share a photo or video I worked hard on and get the inevitable remark that I should change things about the way I present myself because Random Internet Stranger #503 would like it better. I fursuit for my own benefit, not the enjoyment of others. I'm not performing for public approval and my mere existence is not an invitation for critique. I feel frustrated that the common response is not to appreciate something unique that they perhaps haven't seen before, and respect or even just acknowledge a person self-expressing in a novel way. Instead they go out of their way to tell me that they're put-off by how I choose to present myself, and that I should remove my individuality, assimilate, and become more like the status quo.
This aspect in particular inspired much of the symbolism of the piece. A garishly colored cartoon furry seeks to strip Shetani of her individuality as it forcibly stitches cutesy cartoon patches over her eyes. Its arm across her chest, with Shetani's broken glasses clenched in its paw, restricts her from moving forward, and she can do little more than accept the abuse defiantly, tears welling in her uncovered eye, brow and muzzle creased in silent outrage. The artist did a fantastic job of pushing the contrast between the two art styles, enhancing the unsettling feeling and really driving home that the two do not belong together. I'd love to hear other folks' interpretation of the piece as well - feel free to comment with your remarks!
Yesterday, an opinion post made the rounds on Twitter, which happened to be a comment on a photo of a suit belonging to one of my friends. The person claimed all realistic fursuits are nightmarish and take away the fun of people trying to be cartoon characters, while using the verbage "realistic and regular fursuits" as though realism is a form of aberrance. Thinking before you speak is absolutely lost on many members of our community these days. The amount of entitlement and outright lack of etiquette from some furries is absolutely astounding. Everyone's allowed to have opinions, but they are not entitled to voice them without being asked. If you wouldn't walk up to a person on the street and tell them their shirt is ugly, this also applies to any other apparel or visual aesthetic they've chosen to express themselves.
Sadly, we live in a culture that promotes reactions and having a comment on everything over actual substance. I'm glad I grew up in the time period that I did, because I doubt I would have survived as a teenager in today's social climate. I'm shocked by the amount of bullying, vitriol, and outright bigotry I see regularly - it's like people don't care there is another human being on the other side of the screen. What's worse is that these individuals never face actual consequences for their actions, and thus, never learn how to properly behave.
Naturally, I have my own opinions on toony fursuits, art styles, and even certain popular fursuit makers. You will never hear me voice them, especially not directly to people who enjoy and support these aesthetics, because it's their decision that makes them happy! Other people's choices have zero bearing on my own enjoyment of the furry community, and in fact, it's our diversity that makes this fandom such a joy to be part of.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, see things from my perspective, and hopefully understand what we need to do to improve as a community.
FurAffinity United 2012
As I've discussed previously, I was essentially on the sidelines of the furry fandom for over 10 years. I wanted to be a part of the community, and the only thing holding me back was my own worry about what others would think of me.
Because of this, when I finally took the plunge as a full-fledged furry, I hit the ground running. Immediately I wanted to do everything that embarrassment and fear had prevented me from trying before, like making a fursona, getting art of her, and going to furry cons. At the time, I had just started dating my current partner, and while getting to know each other, it came up that she'd never been to a furry con either. It sounded like a great idea!
I went online and found out there was a furry convention not too far from where we both lived, called FurAffinity United. This con is in Virginia today, but at the time, it was located in Whippany, NJ. As a longtime attendee of comic, anime, and general fan conventions, I was excited to experience a furry con for the first time. I printed out a drawing of my fursona and covered it in packing tape to serve as a makeshift laminated badge, and made myself ears and a tail to wear since I didn't have any furry-related t-shirts.
I had been to conventions large and small, from tiny anime cons held at local colleges to the gigantic pop culture monstrosity that is New York Comic-Con. Despite all this, I had never been to a furry convention before! I didn't know how different it was going to be or really what to expect! On top of all that, having just started being a part of the community and interacting with the furry fandom, I didn't actually have any friends that were furries. Luckily, my partner knew a few people who were going to the con too, so we met up with them and hung out together over the weekend. Turns out that they were some pretty cool people, and that trip planted the seeds for great friendships that have lasted the test of time.
We didn't go to many panels, but one I remember was Massage 101. The turnout was very low, and when the panel was over, there was enough time for the instructors to give a few of us a real hands-on massage, which felt so amazing.
My friend brought a pack-rat puppet along and "interviewed" a lot of fursuiters as the rat. It made for a lot of funny and cute moments.
At FA:United, I got up close and personal with lots of fursuiters. I realized it's not so different from cosplay, and in fact, many of the suiters I saw seemed a lot more carefree and joyful than the cosplayers I knew, like they were having more fun being their own characters. I had been on the fence about getting a fursuit at this point, but after FA United, I started thinking I'd like to have one of my own. I also got to watch my very first fursuit parade, which was a real treat! Seeing all the different types of characters and ways they were portrayed really opened my eyes to how diverse and unique we furries are.
In the hallway, they had a notice board set up with notecards and tape for attendees to leave messages. It may sound silly, but one of the highlights of the con for me was looking over all the funny things other people had written and drawn and leaving a card of my own.
Compared to other conventions I had been to, FA United was on the small side, with 629 attendees. Because of this, the atmosphere was super relaxed and laid-back. While there were things going on, a lot of what you saw in the hallways was just people hanging out and talking. The small size helped me feel comfortable and at ease during my first foray into the furry convention scene. I think if I had gone to a bigger con like Anthrocon as my first, I would have been overwhelmed, and the hustle and bustle would have made it really hard for me to talk to people and make friends. I met folks for the first time who I'm still friends with today!
The Dealer's Den and Artist's Alley were smaller than I was used to, but it was cool to see all the furry-specific stuff and finally be able to buy some. I even ran into a couple artists face-to-face whose work I had been following for years, and admittedly got a little bit star-struck.
One booth at the convention sold tons and tons of plushies. They had a giant stuffed cheetah who immediately caught my eye, but I didn't have the money to buy it, so I had my friend take a picture of me holding the cheetah as a souvenir of our trip. You may recognize this cheetah as "Mama Cheetah" from my Cheetah Collection video. I kept going back to the booth to "visit" her over the course of the con. Then, lo and behold, on the last day, my partner surprised me by buying me the giant cheetah! I drew so much attention walking down the halls of FA United holding a massive stuffed cheetah up over my head to keep from bumping into people. I was so happy and grateful to receive such a treasured gift from my date, and today it stands as a wonderful memory of my first ever furry convention.
Photos from this con can be viewed here.
I'm back from Anthrocon, finally! I spent the whole day Monday on a train headed home, then about 2 hours after I arrived, I got a call from my dad (who had no idea I'd been at AC) asking me to come down the very next day. It wasn't anything major, but I did have to take a bus the next morning and spend a couple days with my family. I'm back now, though, and trying to get back into the swing of things!
There's too much stuff for me to possibly cover in-depth, so here's a quick rundown of the positives and negatives of my Anthrocon:
My fursuit got recognized a lot! Many people were able to place the maker as MagpieBones, and a couple mentioned seeing me on Facebook or Youtube. Social media networking success! Got recognized out of suit too, by people I'd met previously at cons.Apparently, I have a very clean-looking fursuit. A dealer called out to me from across the aisle on Sunday to compliment me and give me a badge ribbon that said "Someone likes my fursuit!" Another person was surprised to hear that my suit was 2 years old, as they thought it was brand-new from the way it looked. If two different people say so, it must be true, right? :3Had the opportunity to take a lot of nice photos in fursuit, some of which I can use for profile banners on various websites.Attended my first ever room party, where we had a ton of fun snacking and I watched the infamous CSI furry episode for the very first time.Had great food at Winghart's and Emporio again, and tried Hanlon's and Primanti Brothers for the first time.Got stopped by a fan after the fursuit parade and received my first piece of fanart. It feels weird to say that!Participated in the Furry Femme photoshoot and meeting some very lovely people.Picked up badges I'd commissioned or been gifted, in suit for two of them.Wore a shirt with The Cheat from Homestar Runner on it to see if people would recognize him - two actually did!Broke 3000 Streetpasses on my 3DS! My Mii Plaza is all filled up now, and I have all the puzzle pieces.Managed to not catch con crud, hooray!
Whereas Anthrocon 2014 was #moistcon, Anthrocon 2016 was #sleepycon. I did a lot of snoozing and didn't manage to go to as many panels or do as many activities as last time. I'll be sure to buckle down, get some tea in me, and do better next year!Didn't get to hang out with my friend as much as I wanted. They were also high all the time and ate most of our food, but whatever.Tried to participate in a fursuit music video after a successful and fun experience last Anthrocon, but the shooting was plagued by delays, causing two of my evenings to be eaten up. Another, more experienced fursuit MV director had been planning a video with the same song, and canceled theirs to allow this group to go ahead. I found out after the fact that the crew didn't even get all the scenes filmed, and that we'll have to wait until after next year's Anthrocon for the video to be finished.Missed the Hashtag concert due to waiting in the Artist Alley payment line.Missed the Fursuit Meet & Greet and Gender Identity panel due to the previously mentioned music video shoot.Missed the Friendly Feline Furry Fiasco due to me being a lazy bum and falling asleep.Stopped by TaniDaReal's table to get some more achievement stickers for my achievement badge, only to find out she's not making them anymore.In lieu of the Lion King panel (which I had a lot of fun at in previous years), I attended the Disney meetup, but it was rather lackluster and I bowed out early.I showed up for the fursuit parade closer to 2 PM in an effort to cut down on the time I'd have to spend standing around in fursuit, but I found myself near the back of the pack and had to wait 45 minutes to exit Hall A anyway. It was hot and tiring, and I ended up getting blocked in the photo. :(Alas, my fursuit feet are beginning to fall apart after all the running around. I need to contact my maker and ask how to go about fixing them.When walking down Liberty Ave to get breakfast on Saturday morning, a protester outside the Planned Parenthood clinic stopped me and said "Did you know future furries are being aborted here today?" I was so caught off guard by this that I paused, causing her to take the opportunity to launch into her prepared spiel. Unprepared and unwilling to debate abortion rights on the street outside a furry convention, I just cut her off and continued on my way. It was rather disconcerting, considering how the rest of Pittsburgh seemed to embrace the furry community with open arms.
All in all, though, I had a really great time! I met a lot of wonderful people and had so much fun. I am still going through the photos I took. Expect those to be posted within a few days, and if all goes well, a fursuit parade video and maybe a con video will be up after that. <3
Finally got a chance to sit down and put (figurative) pen to paper regarding my Anthrocon trip this year!
You can see my Anthrocon photo album here if you missed it, or on Facebook if you prefer grainy compressed images for some reason.
My con video is right here! You should totally watch it, it'll certainly take up less of your time than reading this long-ass thing.
Wednesday was our travel day, so it's not getting its own header, but there were a couple things worth mentioning. I had brought my laptop this year (which I usually leave at home for safety) because I was worried about running out of space on my phone and needing to clear off photos and videos as I took them. I'm glad I did that, because there were no other furries in our area to chat with, so I was able to spend most of the 9-hour train ride playing Mad Max. We arrived and checked into our hotel without fuss, and had time to grab a bite to eat at our favorite restaurant, Winghart's. We also ran into our first fursuiter of the con in the elevator: Mosfet!
Mika and I started off the day with a visit to Colony Cat Cafe, a few blocks from the con center. We were able to grab a tasty bite to eat (avocado toast, hummus, and tea) while spending an hour with some absolutely adorable little kittens. It turned out we were the only ones to have booked that time slot, so we had a whole hour to ourselves as we got to know the little cast of fuzzy characters. We reluctantly tore ourselves away from the kittens with a ton of cute photos, a very classy mug, and a promise to return next year. After spending about an hour getting distracted by an expansive four-story comic and media store right next to Colony, we made our way back to the DLCC to pick up our pre-reg badges.
(Colony photos are on my Facebook)
Next stop: the Pittsburgh Zoo! I'd wanted to go last year when the coupon was being offered, but couldn't make it due to con activities; this year I made sure to schedule time for it. It's quite a sizeable zoo with a large variety of wildlife to see! Most of the animals were lazing about or hiding in the shade due to the heat, but we still managed to see nearly all of them. The cheetahs were lying down in the shady grass farthest from the viewing area - those
clever lazy boys! That didn't stop me from taking way more blurry and obscured photos of them than I should have. Mika and I took refuge from the heat in the aquarium building, where we saw a ton of ocean life and got to pet manta rays in the touch tank. It was a very special experience for the both of us. I left the zoo with a new cheetah plush to add to my collection, which I named Andiamo after one of the two cheetah boys I saw that day. Unfortunately, our good mood was dampened by an issue with an Uber driver who couldn't find the zoo entrance and canceled on us, but we eventually managed to make it back to the hotel.
(Zoo photos are on my Facebook too)
In spite of the delay, we managed to get me into fursuit and down to the dock just in time for the sunset fursuit cruise. This was something new that Anthrocon was trying out for the first time this year, and what an experience it was! Mika tends to feel left out whenever I'm in fursuit and she's handling, but she really enjoyed just being with me on the cruise. We explored above and below deck and took a bunch of rather classy photos of me in my formal attire as the sun set over the Allegheny River.
I had never been on a moving riverboat cruise before, and the view was spectacular. I also got to chat, dance, and take pictures with a ton of other fursuiters, including Meulin and Commie, Quibbles, Blu and Bravewolf, Nico, and a really cute little kid who was dancing up a storm!
After the cruise, Mika retired to bed while I checked out the rave for a short while.
There were no morning activities on the schedule for us, so the rat and I had a leisurely breakfast at Joe and Pie's and browsed the eXchange (the DVD/record store on the corner) before getting me into fursuit and heading over to the con. The first panel we attended was the Fursuiters Meet and Greet, which wasn't quite what I had expected. Instead of a group mingle, it was a lecture-style panel with fursuiters being called up by the presenter to speak, but due to time constraints, only a few people actually got to talk. My stamina in fursuit is limited, and spending an hour of precious in-suit time sitting in a chair is a bit of a waste, so I'll be skipping this panel in future. On the plus side, I got to say hi to Ransu!
After that, we browsed the Dealer's Den and Artist Alley for a bit. I don't typically dress up for furry con themes, least of all sports ones, but I figured it'd be as good an opportunity as any to get some more wear out of my TF2 Scout cosplay. (He's a baseball guy, it totally counts.) A bunch of the dealers got a kick out of it, which was good enough for me! I suited for a little while longer, then went back to the hotel so I could return to the Dealer's Den in a less fuzzy state better suited (no pun intended) to exchanging money for goods. After the Dealer's Den closed, we took a walk to Lidia's Italy for dinner. It was quite a swanky place with a price tag to match, but the food was phenomenal, and I found myself wishing I could take the breadsticks with bean and pesto dip back with us.
The final activity of Friday was the Furry Femme Photoshoot hosted by ShujinTribble. It went very well, and the turnout was even bigger than last year! I had hoped to see Rhea there again, but it seemed she wasn't able to make it this year. There's always next time! I got some photos taken with Nessie, and met the lovely Mieze, who mentioned in conversation that her roommate is also a MagpieBones suiter. I have the photos from the shoot on a CD, which reminds me I still need to go through them and post the best ones here.
The biggest day of the con - fursuit parade day! Last year I had shown up right before the parade started in an attempt to minimize the amount of time I had to spend in fursuit, which backfired splendidly as I ended up in the back of the pack and had to wait nearly 45 minutes in a cramped and stuffy hall for all the other suiters to file out ahead of me before I even began my parade march. I vowed to get there in a more timely manner this year to avoid all that kerfuffle. Unfortunately, it meant I had to break my rule of de-suiting in public and walk from the hotel to Hall A partially suited. A lot of people don't really mind, but it's something that I take very seriously myself, and though it bothered me to have to do it, I would not have been physically able to suit for as long as I did otherwise. We do what we have to for the sake of fursuiting! That said, everything worked out, and I managed to be actually visible in the group photo this time!
The parade itself went splendidly. Everything moved a lot quicker and more smoothly - whether that was due to the adjustments made by Anthrocon staff or just the fact that there were fewer participants (or both). This was the first year that a fursuit meet and greet with the public was being offered after the parade, which I forewent in order to ensure I got a fursuiter badge. (That was probably for the best, as I heard there was a mix-up with the room or time slot that resulted in a small turnout.)
After picking up my fursuiter badge, it was time for the Instagram meet. Last year, this was an informal photoshoot that took place in front of Hall A, but there were so many participants that they got a room for it this year! Unfortunately, probably due to the fact that it was the first year on the official AC schedule, the panelists were not given a room of the size they requested. The room was packed to capacity 15 minutes after the panel started, and more people were still pouring in. The panelists weren't able to start due to the fact that the room was rapidly becoming a fire hazard, so we all just sat around while they tried frantically to locate an unoccupied room large enough to fit everyone. Some people entertained themselves by making a giant pyramid of fursuit heads. It was nearly 40 minutes into the hour-long timeslot before a suitable room was found and all the fursuiters moved upstairs, which left no real time to do much speaking, so everyone took a ten-minute break and then we all just gathered for the group photo. I was reaching my personal fursuiting maximum, so I did unfortunately have to take my head off once again for a few minutes before the picture.
That said and done, Mika and I returned to the hotel room to de-suit and get cleaned up, followed by an absolutely delightful dinner at Emporio's Meatball Joint. Sadly, they no longer carry the flavored Italian sodas that they did in 2016, but I had some cheesy bread and the Angry Birds bowl (chicken meatballs on mac and cheese), which was to die for. After getting me back into suit, we went down to the waterfront where SeikoLiz was doing a light wand photoshoot. I was really excited to try it as I don't have any Cool Photos(tm) of my fursuit, and they came out awesome! We hung around by the river a little while longer and took some pictures in front of the Rachel Carson bridge all lit up in rainbows. We capped off the night by popping into the rave to get some fursuit footage.
The final day of the con is usually less activity-driven for us, and when we do most of our shopping. True to form, we arose late and headed to the Dealer's Den and Artist Alley for a final sweep so I could pick up some gifts and purchases for myself. Following that, I got into suit with just enough time to catch the tail end of the Feline Friendly Furry Fiasco (I always have to check that to make sure I have all the words in the right order. :P) No sooner had I entered the room than I was being ushered up to the front by Mizuhiro Neko! Despite being totally unprepared for public speaking (this is why I don't host panels, guys), I talked about cheetahs for a little and did my best to cat around a bit. I sat down and asked Mika if she had been recording my speech... which is when we realized my phone was left back at the hotel room. Welp.
Prior to this year, I had never actually met another MagpieBones fursuiter before, let alone seen a professional group photo of MagpieBones suits. Despite me having never organized a con gathering of any kind before, I had taken the initiative to put together a little meetup at AC so we could get photos together. (The world's largest furry con would be the best place to try to find others, after all.) Immediately after the FFFF, I ran over to say hi to everyone and get a head count while Mika retrieved my phone from the room. Unfortunately, Sebastian was also dealing and needed to get back to his table before the photos were taken, but I was able to get pictures with Wyoon, Derecho, Dreamfinder, Baldric, and Fuzzydice (Mieze's roommate)! I also got to talk to Calico Firethorn, who is just the sweetest. A couple of us stuck around to get some outdoor photos courtesy of Abrahm.
By that time, the rat and I were feeling rather peckish, so we went out for dinner. On the way, though, I just had to stop at Starbucks and try one of the famed Furryccinos that they were offering as an Anthrocon special. It tasted like berry and possibly coconut, and looked super cute! I haven't had their unicorn frap that was all the rage earlier this year, but I imagine the ingredients were similar. For dinner, we tried Condado's, the taco restaurant that took the place of Tonic right across from the Westin. One of my fondest Anthrocon memories is of seeing fursuiters and plain-clothes people just hanging out, drinking and laughing together outside of Tonic, so I'll miss it for that, but Condado's is a fine replacement in my opinion. The mural inside looks pretty cool too!
By this time, Anthrocon proper had wrapped up, so without any other furry stuff to do, we went for a swim in the hotel pool. It was quite relaxing, and the pool itself is pretty nice. It wasn't very supervised when we went, so maybe I can get some fursuit pictures in there next year... I shouldn't push my luck, though. Swimming worked us up an appetite yet again, but all our go-to eateries were closed, we made the trek to Market Square for sandwiches at Primantis. (I don't particularly prefer their food, but everyone else seems to love it.)
Returning to the hotel, we passed two people in cars who were giving rides around the city to fursuiters. One was pulling into the front of the Westin and picking them up by the carload! Maybe I'll get to catch a ride next year. We started to head back to our room, but stopped when we heard the sound of music. Someone was playing Beatles songs on the piano on the second floor, and a bunch of people had gathered around to sing along and dance. It was such a sweet moment that I feel captures the cameraderie and overall feeling of Anthrocon pretty well.
Well, if you've read this whole thing, I certainly commend you! AC is always the highlight of my year, and I'm already looking forward to the next one.
Here we are in 2020, and the global pandemic is understandably hitting the furry community quite hard. With all physical conventions canceled for the foreseeable future, I sought out
I can't draw. That doesn't stop me from doing it, though.
An eclectic autobiographical series which my friends convinced me to post online.
no fun allowed once you hit puberty
"If you want to see a panel at a furry con, you should host one"