The Wildcat

Scientific Name: Felis silvestris
IUCN Status: Vulnerable and considered Critically endangered in Scotland
Weight: 7-18 pounds

Wildcat Portrait

Description:

The wildcat’s appearance is very similar to the domestic cat, though wildcats are generally slightly larger, and longer-legged. Today’s domestic cat is biologically still the same species as the wild cat and the two readily interbreed producing fertile kittens. The genetic distinctions between them are minor, though domestic carry a slightly different genetic signature, sufficient enough to separate them as a subspecies. The subspecies of the wildcat include the European Wildcat, Asiatic Wildcat, and the African Wildcat.

The European Wildcat looks like a heavenly built stripped tabby with pale to dark grey-brown coat, thickly furred tail and distinctive white chin and chest.

The Asiatic Wildcat is pale to tawny-coloured and is the most heavily marked form, with dark brown to black dabs covering the body. They often have small, dark ear tufts that are rarely seen in other populations.

The African Wildcat is sandy-grey to tawny-brown and generally lightly marked with indistinct spotting or striations on the body.

Prey:

The wild cat diet is dominated by a combination of small rodents depending on relative availability, rabbits and hares. Also included in the Wildcat diet is small ungulates, small carnivores, fish, and birds. Reptiles, including venomous snakes, are also included in the wildcat diet.

Habitat is Distribution: 

The Wildcat has an extensive distribution encompassing much of Europe, Asia and Africa. The Wildcat occurs in an extremely wide variety of habitats. With the exception of dense, wet forest and open desert interiors, they occur in virtually all habitats with cover from sea level to 3,000m.

Biology:

African wildcats can breed year round, but will breed seasonally in areas with extreme seasonality and can produce up to four litters a year. Gestation lasts 56-68 days. Litter size is typically 2-4 kittens, rarely up to 8.