Claim: Photograph shows a raccoon carrying a lost kitten.
Example:[Collected via e-mail, December 2010]
Did someone lose a little cat?
Origins: Raccoons have several human-like qualities that endear them to people, such as the black markings on their faces that give them the appearance of furtive bandits, the use of their paws to manipulate objects in a human-like manner, and their ability to stand up on their hind
legs. Walking upright and carrying lost little felines in their arms to return those wayward moggies to their owners is not one of their commonly known traits, however.
In fact, as many a backyard chicken enthusiast (including myself) has learned through painful experience, raccoons are neither charming nor friendly: they are actually vicious poultry predators who will bite the heads off of chickens and chew through their breasts to eat their entrails. And even when chickens are kept safely in cages or coops, raccoons will reach through bars or wire and pull off the birds' heads and legs.
So don't count on your misplaced kitten's being returned by a helpful raccoon: Those masked critters may come into your home through a pet door or other open entrance, but only to find something to eat or steal. The image displayed above is a digitally manipulated version of the photograph of a (catless) raccoon shown here: