African Wildcat Key Facts

*   Ancestor of the domestic cat   *   Reddish ears   *   Breeds with domestic cats   *

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

African Wildcat Information

SCIENTIFIC NAME Felis silvestris lybica or Felis lybica


COMMON NAMES 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'.


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, 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.

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 about African Wildcat Description...


UNIQUE BEHAVIOUR 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.

Video: African Wild Cat, Kgalagadi (South Africa) by Nico Bulder
Wildcat Distribution Map
Wildcat Distribution Map
Reproduced with permission from the book Cats of Africa

African Wildcat Distribution

The African Wildcat is widespread in Africa, found also in the Middle East, but excluding the Sahara and rainforests. This map shows the distribution for all the Wildcat (Felis silvestris) species.

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


More about African Wildcat Distribution...

Further Information about African Wildcats