Black-footed Cat

black-footed cats photo

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

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