Africa’s Smallest Feline: The Black Footed CatReading Time: 3 minutes
When you hear “fearless hunter,” what animals do you think of? Surely of tigers, leopards, and lions. But what about the small cats of the African savanna? The black-footed cat is a predator to be respected. This adorable-looking African wild cat has a hunting success rate of 60%. That’s no small feat! Keep reading to learn more about this amusing kitten!
Introducing the African Black Footed Cat
The African black-footed cat is a wild feline that lives in Africa. They hunt different kinds of prey and are pretty accurate with their voracious kills. In spite of that, they’re more commonly known for being spotted, small, and cute.
Unfortunately, this is a vulnerable species, according to the IUCN Red List. In recent years, their population size has been shrinking, which could lead to them being classified as “endangered” in the near future.
Black Footed Cat Scientific Name
You may know these animals as either “black-footed cat” or as “small-spotted cat.” Their scientific name, on the other hand, is felis nigripes. They belong to the same family as lions, tigers, and other African cats.
Where You’ll Find Africa’s Smallest Cat Breed
This feline species thrives in arid climates. You can find them in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. You won’t find them in the wild anywhere else in the world. The black-footed cat prefers making its home in abandoned termite mounds. Baby kittens, especially, love hiding in these burrows.
Alternatively, you’ll also obviously find them at a zoo. Several zoos in the United States house these kittens to educate visitors. On top of that, there are programs trying to up the number of black-footed cats alive today. We have zoos and wildlife foundations to thank for that.
How Long Do These Small Cats Live?
In Africa, when in the wild, black-footed cats live up to 5 years. When they’re in a zoo, however, their life expectancy is much longer. Often, they live to be 13 years old in captivity.
The Average Size and Weight of Black Footed Cats
Black-footed cat kittens can fit the palm of your hand when they’re born. But even as they mature, they don’t grow a lot more. A mature male black-footed cat only grows to be about 9.8 inches tall and weighs up to 4.2 pounds. Their female companion is much smaller and usually weighs only 2 pounds!
Both males and females have black spots all over their bodies. They also have a fluffy tail large ears. You’d be forgiven for mistaking them for a young tabby cat, as the two share a lot of resemblances.
This small African species has a breeding cycle different from that of other felines. Their gestation period is of 63 to 68 days. A litter has between one and four kittens and they reach sexual maturity at around 21 months.
Don’t Let the Size of These Small Wild Cats Fool You!
Despite being small animals, they’re not frail little things! Black-footed cats are hungry carnivores who love a good hunt and are seriously good at it, too. Their spotted coat helps them blend in with their surroundings, which catches small birds and mammals by surprise!
This Tiny Cat Is a Formidable Predator!
As we’ve mentioned, small birds and small mammals are this species’ favorite dishes. They also feed on insects and other small animals lurking in the dark.
Out of every 10 hunting trips this cat takes, 6 are successful. That means they rarely miss the opportunity to hunt prey. No wonder they rule their habitat!
The Smallest Wild Cat in Africa Has a Very Big Appetite!
These vicious predators have to eat a lot to stay alive. That’s why they walk, on average, 5 miles every night during on hunts. In total, they catch up to 14 animals per night.
One of the reasons why they eat so much is the lack of water in their habitat. By feeding on other animals, they can accumulate some of that moisture and go weeks without taking a sip of water.
A Black Footed Cat Pet? NO!
These small mammals are at risk of disappearing one day. But that doesn’t mean you should go out and get a black-footed cat as your domestic cat! You may think you’re helping in the conservation of nature, but that wouldn’t be the case.
Part of the reason why exotic animals go extinct is because of human interference. For instance, a poacher breaks up a momma cat from her litter to sell the kitties as pets. Always say no to exotic animals being kept as pets. Besides being cruel, it also funds a harmful poaching industry!
Black Footed Cats Are Listed as “Vulnerable”
Because the black-footed cat’s population has been declining, they’re considered a “vulnerable” animal. This is due, in the most part, to humans.
For example, it’s not uncommon for these small cats to accidentally eat poisoned bait, put there by local human populations. This is an unwanted side-effect of predator control. Instead of only large wild cat species taking the bait, this small cat relishes in the feast too. As a result, they usually always die because of this.
Wild Cat Breeds Are Not Pets!
Despite their adorable looks and their small size, the black-footed cat belongs in the Savanna, not in a house. This is due to the fact that they’re scared of humans and love having their wide hunting grounds all for themselves. It would be cruel forcing them to stay indoors or to only roam around the yard!
This May Just Be the Wildest and Cutest Cat in the World!
Sadly, the cutest cat of Africa is threatened. But there’s still hope! Thanks to the efforts of many a zoo and other conservation efforts, this kitten’s populations may bounce back. For the time being, let’s let them enjoy their birds and other prey in solitude and admire them from a distance.
Common Questions on the Black-Footed Cat
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