African Wildcat (Felis lybica)
African Wildcat by Gerald Hinde
from the the book Cats of Africa

African Wildcat Key Facts

*   Ancestor of the domestic cat

*   Reddish ears

*   Breeds with domestic cats

African Wildcat Facts


Felis silvestris lybica or Felis lybica

As at 2017 the African Wildcat and Asiatic Wildcat are now grouped together under the Afro-Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica) species.


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'.


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, and 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.

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.

The African Wildcat is widespread in Africa (excluding the Sahara and rainforests) and its range extends into the Middle East.


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

Further Information

The following professional organizations have well researched and accurate information on African Wildcats:

Video: African Wild Cat, Kgalagadi (South Africa) by Nico Bulder

African Wildcat Videos

South Africa Travel Guide
Travel Guide South Africa 2023

Namibia Travel Guide 2022
Travel Guide Namibia 2022

Botswana Travel Guide
Travel Guide Botswana 2022/23