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Wildcat (Felis silvestris)

Wildcat | Felis silvestris photo
Photograph by Gunnar Ries. Some rights reserved.


Wildcats (or wild cats) are usually grey brown with a pattern of black stripes over the body. The fur is fairly short and soft, and the tail is bushy. They are similar in appearance and colour to a tabby domestic cat. There are several subspecies: The European wildcat (Felix silvestris silvestris) has the typical gray brown coast and has thick winter fur; the Asiatic wildcat (Felix silvestris notatus) is more reddish or yellowish brown in colour with a pattern of dark spots that join into stripes; African wild cats (Felix silvestris libyca) vary from yellowish brown to gray to brown, with pattern of stripes and spots.


Body length: 50cm - 75cm. Tail length: 21cm - 35cm. Weight: males 4kg - 5kg; females - 2.7kg - 4kg. The Asiatic wildcat is the smallest subspecies.


African wildcats are found in a range of habitats, but not in rainforest or open desert. Asiatic wildcats are found mainly in scrub desert. European wildcats are found mainly in deciduous forest and also in coniferous forests, scrublands, riverside habitats, and prefer areas far from human settlement.


Wild cats feed on small mammals such as mice, rats and rabbits. Also eats birds, reptiles, amphibians, eggs, large insects. Wild cats can capture prey that is almost as large as themselves.


European wild cats breed in late winter and young are born in the spring. Asiatic wild cats breed throughout most of the year. African wild cats breed from September through March. Females give birth to one to eight kittens (average three or four) after a gestation period of about 66 days. The kittens are born in a burrow, under rocks or in dense vegetation. The young are weaned after about 42 to 84 days.


Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Republic of Congo, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, USA, Uzbekistan, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Relatives in same Genus
  Jungle Cat (F. chaus)
  Pallas' Cat (F. manul)
  Sand Cat (F. margarita)
  Black-footed Cat (F. nigripes)