Scientific Name: Felis nigripes
The black-footed cat is the smallest wild cat in South Africa. The cat is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In some parts, the cat is referred to as the “anthill tiger” due to its fierce nature when cornered.
Black-footed cats live in various regions in southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, Nambia and parts of Angola. Male cats weigh between 4.2 and 5.4 lbs. Females can weigh as little as 2.9 lbs.
The black-footed cat gets its name from the black coloring on the bottom of its feet. The cat has large eyes and its fur color can range from a reddish-brown to beige, with black and brown spots. Sometimes the spots will merge into ring-looking shapes.
Interesting Black-footed Cat Facts
There are two sub-species of black-footed cats:
- Felis nigripes nigripes (Nambia, Botswana and some northern parts of South Africa)
- Felis nigripes thomasi (southeastern Africa)
Black-footed cats live in dry areas, including grassy and sandy plains, as well as deserts with scrub (areas where plants have adapted to the harsh environment). They can be found at elevations up to 6,600 ft. For shelter or resting during the day, the cat will dig or climb into existing burrows.
The cat only hunts at night. It will begin hunting after the sun goes down, and continue hunting until sunrise. Its prey includes small animals such as rodents and small birds, as well as insects and spiders. The cat will stalk its prey and chase it out in the open. Because of black-footed cat’s stocky build, it does not climb trees.
A unique characteristic of the black-footed cat (compared to other smaller wild cats) is that it will sometimes hide its prey to eat at a later point in time.
Females have one to two litters a year, with an average of two cubs. The cubs are moved around to new locations on a regular basis for protection.
In captivity, black-footed cats have lived for up to 10 years.
Black-footed Cat Pictures
Black-footed Cat Conservation Groups
Black-footed Cat Working Group
Carries out a research project at Benfontein Nature Reserve and Nuwejaarsfontein Farm in central South Africa, where seven black-footed cats have been radio-collared.
Cat Action Treasury (CAT)
CAT was created in 1995 to conserve the world’s 36 species of wild cat.
"...We play a leading role in advancing conservation of the big cats - tiger, lion, snow leopard, cheetah, leopard, jaguar and puma – as well as the rare and little known small cats – including marbled cat, clouded leopard, guiña, Andean cat, Asiatic golden cat, Borneo bay cat, flat-headed cat, black-footed cat and Pallas cat...CAT works closely with the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group, an international network of over 200 experts on wild cats. " Cat Conservation Trust
Creates public awareness of the plight of the small cats through research and education.
International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC) Canada
A 100% volunteer organization specializing in small wild cat conservation with an extensive online database of wild cat information.
IUCN/SSC: Cat Specialist Group
Advancing the understanding and conservation of the world’s 36 wild living cat species.
"...The IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group brings together more than 200 of the world’s leading cat experts, including scientists, wildlife managers and conservationists from 50 countries who are dedicated to advancing the understanding and conservation of the world’s 36 wild living cat species...The Cat Specialist Group is active in many of its own initiatives as well, focusing on the development of tools for the assessment of the species’ status, for the compilation and distribution of intelligence and for supporting the work of its members..." San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy
San Diego Zoo Global is an international conservation organization species for over 95 years; experts in scientifically based breeding, conservation, and reintroduction programs for endangered species.
Projects include "Helping Wild Cats Live All Nine Lives"; research and conservation of the black-footed cat, "the smallest cat in Africa and the second smallest cat in the world."