Black-Footed Cat

ANIMAL:
Black-Footed Cat Felis nigripes

Type of Animal:
Feline

Habitat:
Scrub desert, desert, semi-desert, sandy plains, grassy plains, dry open scrubland, arid/semiarid scrub, savanna, steppe, open sandy grassy areas w/ sparse scrub & tree cover, shrubland w/ short grasses/low bush cover/scattered clumps of low bush & higher grasses, grassland, scrub forest, open terrain near rocky outcrops, dense thickets, found from sea level all the way to 6,561.68 ft

Location(s):
Southern Africa

Appearance:
Smallest cat in Africa, tawny coloration w/ black spots/stripes, head darker than rest of body but paler above eyes, pale off-white lining ears/eyes/mouth, black to dark brown foot soles, banded black tip tail, black streaking running from eyes along cheeks

Food/Diet:
Small mammals, birds up to size of bustards, arachnids, insects, reptiles, eggs, amphibians, carrion

Status in Wild:
Threatened

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos & wildlife centers. Field research in natural habitat.

Lifestyle:
Solitary

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Tom
Female: Queen
Young: Kitten
Group: Solitary
 
Weight:
Male: 3.5-5.4 lbs
Female: 2.4-3.6 lbs
Young: 1.2 lbs

Gestation:
8-9 weeks 

Life Span:
8 years in wild, 10-15 years in captivity

Height:
Male: 10 in
Female: 8 in

Body Length:
Male: 1.391-1.641 ft
Female: 1.108-1.208 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 5.9-7.9 in
Female: 6.2-6.7 in

Main predators are caracals, jackals, domestic/feral dogs, domestic/feral cats, hyenas, raptors, & snakes.
 
Threatened due to indirect poisoning, habitat loss/degradation, overgrazing, loss of prey, & diseases from domestic cats & dogs.
 
Active at night (nocturnal).
 
Kittens leave mom at 4-5 months old w/ females maturing at 7 months & males at 8 months.
 
These cats are very shy & elusive.
 
Utilize 3 hunting styles-fast hunts involving moving in swift bounds while flushing prey, slow hunts involving snake-like winding between grass tufts, & sit-and-wait where they station themselves in certain area waiting for prey.
 
Females only come into heat 1-2 days per breeding season (they usually have 2 breeding seasons) & are only sexually receptive for a few hours during heat cycle.
 
They have excellent eyesight & hearing.
 
1 male territory has 1-4 female territories within.

Fun Fact(s):
While very small, these cats can be highly aggressive & temperamental.
 
African legends have claimed these tiny cats can bring down giraffes by leaping onto their necks. While this specific legend is untrue, these cats are highly tenacious & fierce.
 
These cats have a 60% hunting success rate-highest of any feline species.
 
Sometimes called Anthill Tigers due to habit of denning in/near termite mounds/ant hills.
 
Excellent jumpers able to catch birds in air (up to 4.7 ft high).

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