African Wildcat

African Wildcat

The African Wildcat enjoys the credit of being the ancestor of the Domestic cat. The former has various coat colors. This color variety helps them to easily blend in their environment. The African Wildcat is also called the names- African Desert Cat, Desert Cat, or just Wildcat. In captivity, they have lived up to fifteen (15) years. This wildcat as a species diverges into scores of regional subspecies, as well as their count along their classification, is varied. Reading on will fetch you more info about this cat.


It was approximately 131,000 years ago when African Wildcats departed from other Wildcat subspecies. About 10,000 years back, some of cats were tamed in the Middle East. In Cyprus, around 9,500 years ago, the rest of the tamed wildcats have been involved in human burials.


The Desert cat is extensively found in Africa. It is also widespread in the Middle East but not found in rainforests and Sahara. These cats are also found in France, USSR, Iran, Spain, Iraq, Scotland, India, and Pakistan.

Physical Description

This cat is more robust than the domestic one. Its colors vary from yellow-gray to sandy to dark grey and grayish-brown. Its tail has black stripes. Its length from head to body is about 45-75 cm. Its tail measures 20-38 cm and it weighs 3-6.5 kg. The forests hold these cats in darker colors whereas more arid areas have them in lighter color tones. It looks like a short-haired tabby cat, a domestic one. On the back of its ears, it has a reddish color, and also on its abdomen as well as on the back portion of its hind legs.


African Wildcat is solitary in nature. As in the case of domestic cats, males contend for females in season. A loud caterwauling announces the intentions of these males. The cats are terrestrial and nocturnal.

When they are confronted, they raise their body hair so that they can appear larger in size and the opponent may be discouraged to attack them and may be threatened. The cats generally hide in the bushes during the daytime. Though, it is noticed that the cat becomes active on cloudy and dark days at times.


Hares, reptiles, birds, rodents, insects, amphibians, arachnids, and young antelope form the main diet of these cats.


These cats mate between the months of July and January. On average, 3-4 kittens are born post a gestation period of about 56-63 days. They are given birth in hollows or burrows in the ground between September to March. The young ones have their eyes closed for about 10 days. On the 16th-20th day of their birth, they start walking. At about 12 weeks, they start hunting for food and turn independent within 5-6 months.

Main Threats

Though African Wildcats are considered to be widespread and most common in Africa, they face a threat to their genetic integrity in form of their populace’s hybridization with tamed ones. The issue of feral tamed cats is widespread and the long duration of time has seen them as a problem. These factors have brought in the uncertainty of the existence of any pure wildcats in the present day and age. Any purebred African Wildcat has become very rare evidence. If there are any, the possibilities are in extremely remote regions, where there is no interference from humans.

African Wildcat (Felis silvestris) lives in a variety of habitat. As mentioned above, they don’t reside in rainforests, and in arid areas they are limited to mountainous regions as well as waterways. In a nutshell, it can be said that as this cat holds the prestige of being the forerunner of domestic cats, we today have cute feline pets because of African wildcats.

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