Allegorical novels, including works of both science fiction and fantasy, and cartoons featuring anthropomorphic animals are often cited as the earliest inspiration for the fandom. A survey conducted in 2007 suggested that, when compared with a non-furry control group, a higher proportion of those self-identifying as furries liked cartoons "a great deal" as children and recalled watching them significantly more often, as well as being more likely to enjoy works of science fiction than those outside of the community.
According to a survey from 2008, most furries believe that visual art, conventions, literature, and online communities are strongly important to the fandom.
Fans with craft skills create their own plush toys, sometimes referred to as stuffies or plushies, and also build elaborate costumes called fursuits, which are worn for fun or to participate in parades, convention masquerades, dances, or fund-raising charity events (as entertainers). Fursuits range from designs featuring simple construction and resembling sports mascots to those with more sophisticated features that include moving jaw mechanisms, animatronic parts, prosthetic makeup, and other features. Fursuits range in price from $500, for mascot-like designs, to an upwards of $10,000 for models incorporating animatronics. While about 83% of furries do not own a full fursuit, often citing their expensive cost as the decisive factor, a majority of them hold positive feelings towards fursuiters and the conventions in which they participate. Some fans may also wear "partial" suits consisting simply of ears and a tail, or ahead, paws, and a tail.
Furry fans also pursue puppetry, recording videos and performing live shows such as Rapid T. Rabbit and Friends and the Funday PawPet Show, and create furry accessories, such as ears or tails.
Anthropomorphic animal characters created by furry fans, known as fursonas, are used for role-playing on internet forums, or on electronic mailing lists. A variety of species are employed as the basis of these personas, although many furry fans (for example over 60% of those surveyed in 2007) choose to identify themselves with carnivorans. The longest-running online furry role-playing environment is FurryMUCK, which was established in 1990. Many furry fans had their first exposure to the fandom come from multiplayer online role-playing games. Another popular online furry social game is called Furcadia, created by Dragon's Eye Productions. There are also several furry-themed areas and communities in the virtual world Second Life.
Sufficient interest and membership have enabled the creation of many furry conventions in North America and Europe. A furry convention is for the fans get together to buy and sell artwork, participate in workshops, wear costumes, play games and most importantly socialize. The world's largest furry convention, Anthrocon with more than 5,861 participants, held annually in Pittsburgh in June, was estimated to have generated approximately $3 million to Pittsburgh's economy yearly. Another convention, Further Confusion, held in San Jose each January, closely follows Anthrocon in scale and attendance. US$470,000 was raised in conventions for charity from 2000–9, since 2009 the numbers have almost tripled. The first known furry convention, ConFurence, is no longer held; Califur has replaced it, as both conventions were based in Southern California. A University of California, Davis survey suggested that about 40% of furries had attended at least one furry convention.