IUCN Sand Cat Distribution Map
Interactive map of the Sand Cat's range by the IUCN Red List

The Sand Cat occurs only in the desert regions of the Sahara in Africa, the Arabian Peninsular and southwest Asia. It is the only wild cat species that occupies true desert habitat.

Sand Cat Distribution in Africa

Sand Cats occur in the desert habitats in the northern and western regions of Africa (IUCN 2018):

North Africa: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Western Sahara*

West Africa: Mali, Mauritania, Niger

Sand Cat Distribution outside of Africa

The Sand Cat also occurs in apparently disjointed populations in the arid regions of the Arabian peninsular and southwest Asia (IUCN 2018):

Middle EastIran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Syrian Arab Republic, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates

Asia: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Possibly extinct: Israel, Pakistan, Yemen
*The country links will take you to an adventure travel website that has images of the natural habitat of that country.

Sand Cat Subspecies

Four subspecies of the Sand Cat (Felis margarita) have been recognized in the past. However the current revision of the Felidae cat family by the proposes two subspecies, pending further research:

1. Felis margarita margarita - North Africa (smaller with yellowish fur and bold markings)

2. Felis margarita thinobia - Southwest Asia and Arabian Peninsula (larger with greyer fur and less markings)

Sand Cat Habitat

The Sand Cat primarily occupies sandy deserts but has also been recorded in stony and rocky deserts. They are found near the patches of sparse vegetation that can support their prey species and the cats have special adaptations to survive in the extreme desert conditions.

The IUCN Red List has standardised habitat types globally and there is only one primary habitat type suitable for Sand Cats across its full range (IUCN 2018):

  • Desert - Hot
Sand Cat (Felis margarita) in Sandy Desert Habitat
Sand Cat (Felis margarita) in Sandy Desert Habitat