AFRICAN WILDCAT

Felis sylvestris lybica

SIZE

The African Wildcat is a subspecies of the Wildcat (Felis silvestris) and is similar in size to domestic cats. In fact the African Wildcat is the ancestor of domestic cats.  

NAME

The African Wildcat is also known as the Desert Cat, African Desert Cat or simply Wildcat. In Afrikaans (South Africa) vaalboskat means grey bush cat. 

IDENTIFICATION 

The African Wildcat looks similar to a short-haired domestic tabby cat, but has reddish colouring on the back of the ears, over its abdomen and on the back of its hind legs. More...

BEHAVIOUR 

Although African Wildcats are listed as common and widespread in Africa, their genetic integrity is threatened by interbreeding with domestic (feral) cats.  It is becoming quite rare to come across a pure bred African Wildcat.  Watch a video...

HIGHLIGHTS 

*Ancestor of the  domestic cat

*Reddish ears 

*Breeds with  domestic cats

DISTRIBUTION 

The African Wildcat is widespread in Africa,  found also in the Middle East, but excluding the Sahara and rainforests. 

HISTORY

African Wildcats diverged from the other Wildcat subspecies about 131,000 years ago. Some individuals were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, which are the ancestors of the domestic cat. Remains of domesticated wildcats have been included in human burials as far back as 9,500 years ago in Cyprus.

SUBSPECIES of WILDCAT

  • Felis silvestris lybica - African Wildcat
  • Felis silvestris silvestris - European Wildcat
  • Felis silvestris ornata - Asiatic Wildcat
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