Polecat, a flesh-eating animal of the Eastern Hemisphere, closely related to the weasel. It has a slender, dark-brown body about two feet (60 cm) long; short, blackish legs; and a blackish, bushy tail. Markings on its face are black and white. Polecat fur is marketed as fitch.

Polecats are found mostly in continental Europe and in Asia. They are almost extinct in the British Isles. Polecats live in rocky tunnels or in burrows made by rabbits. They usually hunt at night, feeding on poultry, birds, voles, frogs, rabbits, and other small animals. When attacked, a polecat discharges an unpleasantly odorous liquid from glands at the base of its tail.

The American skunk is often called “polecat.” The name is also given to the closely related black-footed ferret of North America, and to several related species in Asia and Africa. The domestic hunting ferret is descended from the polecat.

The polecat is Mustela putorius of the family Mustelidae.