IUCN African Wildcat Distribution Map
Interactive map of the African and other Wildcat's range by the IUCN Red List

The African Wildcat is widespread in Africa and extends into the Middle East, but excludes the Sahara desert and central tropical rainforests. The map shows the distribution for all the Wildcat species.

African Wildcat Distribution in Africa

African Wildcats occur in 46 African countries across all five regions (IUCN 2018):

North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara

West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Togo

Central Africa: Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic Congo

East Africa: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Southern Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland

African Wildcat Subspecies

Some authors group all the Wildcat subspecies under Felis silvestris and others separate them into two species - Felis silvestris in their European range and Felis lybica in the African and Asian range.

The current revision of the Felidae cat family uses the latter grouping and proposes the following subspecies:

Felis lybica lybica - East, West and North Africa extending to the Middle East

Felis lybica cafra - Southern Africa

Felis lybica ornata - Asian range (spotted coat)

For the purposes of this website - the African Wildcat refers to the subspecies F. l. lybica and F. l. cafra.

African Wildcat (Felis lybica)

African wildcat stalking in long grass ~ Arkive
African Wildcat (Felis lybica) in Grassland Habitat

African Wildcat Habitat

The African Wildcat occurs in a variety of habitats due to its extensive range across most of Africa. The exceptions are the central tropical rainforests and only sparsely in the true deserts of the Sahara in the north.

The IUCN Red List has standardised habitat types globally and the following types are suitable for all the Wildcat species across Africa, Asia and Europe (IUCN 2018):

  • Forest
    • Temperate & Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Savanna
    • Dry & Moist
  • Shrubland
    • Temperate & Subtropical/Tropical Dry & Mediterranean-type
  • Grassland
    • Temperate & Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Wetlands (inland) - none
  • Desert
    • Hot & Temperate & Cold
Reference: Yamaguchi, N., Kitchener, A., Driscoll, C. & Nussberger, B. 2015. Felis silvestris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T60354712A50652361. Classification Schemes > Habitats.