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:
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:
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: Classification Schemes > Habitats.
Sand Cat Distribution Map
Click to view an interactive map of the Sand Cat's range by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: