African Golden Cat Key Facts

* Endemic to Africa  *  Fur lies forward on head & neck  *  Very few studies *

African Golden Cat Information

SCIENTIFIC NAME Caracal aurata 

NAME ORIGIN The Golden Cat gets the name from its reddish coat. The full common name is the African Golden Cat which distinguishes it from the similar Asian Golden Cat. There are no other English common names, although the greyish form used to be called the silver cat, until it was established they were in fact the same species. 

SIZE The Golden Cat belongs to the medium sized group, together with the Caracal and Serval. Golden Cats are robustly built and weigh between 8 and 16kgs.

IMAGE African Golden Cat drinking by Terry Whittaker
IDENTIFICATION The African Golden Cat has a stocky build and a short tail. The small, rounded face has few markings and the ears are black. The cat's coat can vary from reddish to grey, with or without spots. The underside is pale to white often with blotches. Melanistic and partially black cats have been recorded. 

BEHAVIOUR The solitary African Golden Cat feeds mainly on rodents and birds, and is active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular) and at night (nocturnal).

Video: African and Asian Golden Cat by Aberdare Marozi

African Golden Cat Distribution

The African Golden Cat occurs in the tropical forests of equatorial Africa from Senegal, Sierra Leone and Liberia in the west, through Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a minimal distribution in Uganda and Kenya in the east.


IMAGE African Golden Cat Distribution Map - reproduced with permission from the book Cats of Africa

African Golden Cat Description

BODY The African Golden Cat is one of the three medium sized African cats, on average being smaller than the Caracal and heavier (but not taller) than the Serval. The body has a stocky build with muscular legs and large paws. The relatively short tail has a dark line along the top, may have some bands and ends in a dark tip. Unique amongst the cat species, the fur has a distinctive ridge along the shoulders where it changes direction to lie forward. This pattern extends along the neck to the top of the head. 

COAT The Golden Cat's coat is one of the most variable amongst the cat species ranging from reddish to grey. Spotting can occur at various densities and shades or there may be no spots at all. The underside of the cat is pale to white, often with large blotches. Melanistic and partially black cats have been recorded.

IMAGE African Golden Cat Physical Characteristics - Image by Terry Whittaker
HEAD The rounded head with its heavy muzzle is relatively small compared to the stocky body. The face has few markings, just some white patches around the eyes, mouth and lower jaw which extends down the chin and neck. The small ears are black on the back like the Caracal's however there are no ear tufts. 

AGE In the wild - unknown In captivity - up to 12 years

IMAGE African Golden Cat Facial Characteristics - Image by Terry Whittaker

More African Golden Cat Information and Facts


  1. ARKive Videos and Photos taken in the wild
    ARKive - African Golden Cat - wildlife imagery
  2. International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC)
    ISEC - African Golden Cat - fact sheet
  3. IUCN Cat Specialist Group
    IUCN CatSG - African Golden Cat - detailed information
ARKive video - Camera trap footage of a wild African golden cat


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