African Wildcat Key Facts
* Ancestor of the domestic cat *
* Reddish ears *
* Breeds with domestic cats *
African Wildcat Information
SCIENTIFIC NAME Felis silvestris lybica or Felis lybica
As at 2017 the African Wildcat and Asiatic Wildcat are now grouped together under the African-Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica) species.
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 and characteristics.
DISTRIBUTION The African Wildcat is widespread in Africa (excluding the Sahara and rainforests) and its range extends into the Middle East. More about the African Wildcat range, habitat and subspecies.
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.