Black-footed Cat

The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) is a small wild cat distributed over South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. Some are distributed into Zimbabwe. The habitat of this cat species is dry semi-desert and savannah. With an average mass of 3.53 lb (1.6 kg) it is one of the smallest living species of cats. Females have an average weight of 2.87 lb (1.3 kg), males 4.19 lb (1.9 kg). The head appears oversized relative to the rest of the body. The fur is cinnamon buff to tawny or off-white with distinct solid blackish spots. These spots are joined to bands behind the shoulders and that form rings around the legs and tail. As the name implies, the soles of the feet are black. Black-footed cats live solitarily lives. They are active at night and thus rarely seen. In the daytime they hide in burrows, under rock slabs and shrubs.

Due to its small size the black-footed cats hunts mainly small prey species like rodents and small birds. Black-footed cats are shy animals that seek refuge at the slightest disturbance. However, when cornered are known to defend themselves fiercely. Due to this habit and their courage they are called Miershoopdier or Anthill Tiger in parts of the South African Karro.

Some authors state that they may be relatively common in parts of their range. They are considered rare and they were recently listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.

A litter consists usually of two kittens, but may vary from one to four young. A female may have up to two litters during the southern hemisphere spring, summer and autumn. Kittens become independent with about 5 months of age but may still remain within their mother’s range.