African Golden Cat Physical Characteristics


The African Golden Cat (Caracal aurata) is one of the three medium sized African cats, on average being smaller than the Caracal and heavier (but not taller) than the Serval. African Golden Cats are robustly built and weigh between 8 and 16kgs.


The African Golden Cat has a stocky build with muscular legs and large paws. The relatively short tail has a dark line along the top, may have some bands and ends in a dark tip.

Unique among the cat species, the fur has a distinctive ridge along the shoulders where it changes direction to lie forward. This pattern extends along the neck to the top of the head.


The African Golden Cat's coat is one of the most variable among the cat species, ranging from reddish to grey. Spotting can occur at various densities and shades, or there may be no spots at all. The underside of the cat is pale to white, often with large blotches.

Melanistic and partially black African Golden Cats have been recorded.

African Golden Cat Physical Characteristics

African Golden Cat Facial Characteristics

African Golden Cat Facial Characteristics


The rounded head of the African Golden Cat has a heavy muzzle and is relatively small compared to the stocky body. The face has few markings, just some white patches around the eyes, mouth and lower jaw which extend down the chin and neck.


The small ears are black on the back like the Caracal's however there are no ear tufts.


African Golden Cat Identification

When catching a glimpse of wildlife in the bush it is often difficult to identify an animal, especially if lighting is poor, or you do not see the full animal. Here are some pointers to help you confirm whether what you saw was an African Golden Cat.

Overall Golden Cats are about the size of a medium sized dog, and although most common is a plain coat, some may have slight spotting.

Golden Cats only occur in the tropical forests of central Africa so if you are lucky enough to spot this rare, elusive cat, the only other similar sized carnivore in that location and habitat would be a Leopard.

Leopards have a clearly spotted coat of rosettes, and the background colour is much lighter than the grey or reddish fur of the Golden Cat. Leopard tails are also much longer relative to their body length than Golden Cats.

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Wild Cats of Africa Print by Roger Hall

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