The Sand Cat

Scientific Name: Felis margarita
IUCN Status: Near Threatened
Weight: 3-8 pounds

Wildcat Portrait


The Sand Cat is a very small, strikingly pale cat with a flat, broad head topped by very large ears. The fur is pale sand coloured, light grey or rich golden-sandy, often finely speckled with a faint saddle of interspersed black and silvery hairs over the nape, shoulders, and flanks. The body is marked with partial, longitudinal dark bands and spots that are typically indistinct or absent entirely, but are dark and obvious in small number of individuals. Markings become more distinct on the limbs, as prominent black ‘armbands’ on the upper forelegs and slightly less obvious striations on the hind-legs. The tail is faintly banded, resolving to distinct dark stripes towards the tip, which is black, and feet are covered in fine, dark fur. 


The Sand Cat subsists on desert-adapted small vertebrates, small mammals, birds, hares, and reptiles. Highly venomous horned snakes and sand vipers are also a prey source for this cat.  

Habitat and Distribution:

The Sand Cat has a discontinuous distribution, with scattered population in central Asia from southern Kazakhstan to central Iran; the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula; and into some parts of northern Africa. The Sand Cat specializes in desert regions where rainfall is as low as 20mm per year. The inhabit a variety of sparsely vegetated sandy or stony desert habitats, and arid shrub-covered steppes.


San Cats in captivity breed year-round, though limited information from the wild suggests that breeding is seasonal, at least in some parts of the range. Suggestions have lead scientists to believe that 2 litters a year are produced. Gestation lasts 59-67 days. Litter size is typically 2-4 kittens, but they are capable of producing large litters, and up to 8 has been recorded in captivity.