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:

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:

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

Asia: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Possibly extinct: Israel, Pakistan, Yemen
Reference: IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) 2016. <www.iucnredlist.org> Felis margarita. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. 21 Jun 2017.
*The country links will take you to an adventure travel website that includes visits to national parks and rural areas in several of their tours. Many of the images show the typical natural environment and wildlife habitat of that country.

Sand Cat Subspecies

Four subspecies of the Sand Cat (Felis margarita) have been recognized in the past. However the latest taxonomic revision by the IUCN Cat Specialist Group 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)

Reference: Kitchener et al. 2017. A revised taxonomy of the Felidae. The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN / SSC Cat Specialist Group.

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:

  • Desert - Hot
Reference: Sliwa, A., Ghadirian, T., Appel, A., Banfield, L., Sher Shah, M. & Wacher, T. 2016. Felis margarita. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T8541A50651884. Classification Schemes > Habitats.
Sand Cat (Felis margarita) in Sandy Desert Habitat
Sand Cat (Felis margarita) in Sandy Desert Habitat

Sand Cat Distribution Map

Click to view an interactive map of the Sand Cat's range by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

IUCN Sand Cat Distribution Map

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