Black-footed Cat by DilettantO
Black-footed Cat by DilettantO


The smallest African wild cat is the diminutive Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) also known as the Small Spotted Cat. It is the second smallest wild cat in the world, and only weighs up to a maximum of 2.5 kgs, about half the size of an average domestic cat.

Except for one taken in San Diego Zoo, these video clips are all taken in South Africa. These wild cats are so small, nocturnal and mostly solitary, that it is very rare to come across them in the wild, so most online videos will be of captive cats.

More information about Black-footed cats, Black-footed Cat characteristics and Black-footed Cat distribution in Africa.

Main reference for this page: Chapter Black-footed Cat from Wild Cats of the World by Luke Hunter - on our list of recommended books on wild cats.

Wild Cats Films: A devoted Black-footed Cat mother and her kitten.

Black-footed Cat kittens are born in spring and summer in the wild to coincide with the rains and increase in prey. There are usually two kittens in a litter and the female produces one litter a year; sometimes a second litter if the first litter does not survive. The kittens are born in termite mounds or abandoned burrows and mature rapidly reaching independence at three to four months.

The rehabilitation centre in this video clip uses a hollowed out log to simulate the dark and small burrows the cats would normally occupy in the wild.

AGRI TV: Farmers help with Black-footed Cat research in South Africa.

Black-footed Cats occur in the semi-arid habitats of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. In the central part of South Africa near Kimberley, Dr. Alex Sliwa and the Black-footed Cat Working Group have been running a long term research project that had its beginnings in 1992. Movement data and biological specimens are collected from a number of collared cats and students record prey abundance as well as other information from behavioural observations.

The project is primarily funded by a Canadian organisation that raises donations to help small cat conservation. Anyone can donate to the Black-footed Cat project via their website.

Field researcher: Capturing a Black-footed Cat to replace a radio-tracking collar.

"Black-footed Cats are an endangered species endemic to southern African. They are entirely nocturnal and solitary.

As the second smallest feline species in the world, this is one of the most difficult cats to conduct research on.

This is a short clip documenting field work carried out by the Black-footed Cat Working Group as part of a long-term monitoring study.

Ilse, a female cat was re-captured during the day. Her old radio-tracking collar was replaced with a brand new one. After collecting standard biological and morphological data by the team of ecologists, veterinarians and field biologists she was returned unharmed to a burrow. She can be seen leaving some time later, none the worse for her experience."

San Diego Zoo Safari Park: Black-Footed Cats hunt and play.

"As the smallest African species, black-footed cats are naturally rare and considered Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.

Visitors to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park can get a glimpse of this secretive pair in Nairobi Village next to the fennec fox."

In this video clip you can clearly see the black undersoles of the feet, from where the cats get their name.

5050 Community: Wildlife Wonder - Black Footed Cats

"At first glance, the Black footed cat may look like your average tabby-cat, but attempt to scratch one behind the ears, and you will fast be singing a different tune. Fondly dubbed ‘anthill tigers’ these diminutive felines are fierce little predators, perfectly adapted to survive the perils of the wild. Shy and seldom seen, this week’s Wildlife Wonder glimpses into the secretive world of Africa’s smallest cat, and although impossibly cute, these little cats really do prove that dynamite does come in small packages."

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