Black-footed Cat Key Facts
* Second smallest of all wild cats * Endemic to Southern Africa * Requires no drinking water *
Black-footed Cat Information
The Black-footed Cat is named after the black undersides of its feet. It is also called the Small Spotted cat after its tiny size and the spots on its coat. In Afrikaans (South Africa) it is called a miershooptier, which means "Anthill Tiger", as it often makes its den in abandoned termite mounds.
The Black-footed Cat is the second smallest cat species in the world and the smallest African cat, weighing a maximum of only 2.5 kgs.
The Black-footed Cat is very small, covered with small dark spots and has a short face similar to domestic cats.
The Black-footed Cat lives in arid regions and obtains all its moisture from its food. It requires no drinking water at all.
IMAGE Black-footed Cat by Gerald Hinde
Black-footed Cat Distribution
The Black-footed Cat is endemic to Southern Africa and found only in the arid parts of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Southern Angola.
IMAGE Black-footed Cat Distribution Map - reproduced with permission from the book Cats of Africa.
Black-footed Cat Description
The Black-footed cat is one of the smallest cat species in the world, less than half the size of an average domestic cat. Males are larger than females.
The Black-footed cat is very similar looking to a long-haired domestic cat, and has a short thin tapering tail. It has a large broad head relative to its small body and often flattens its ears.
The short tail has black rings and a black tip. The pads of the feet are black (which is where the species name comes from) and have long black hairs. The hairs help silence the approach of the cat, as well as protecting its feet from the heat of the ground.
The coat is pale and has numerous small dark spots all over it. The spots sometimes join to form stripes or bars, especially on the legs. The coat pattern is unique for each cat and can be used to identify individuals. The base colour ranges from reddish-fawn in the southern parts of its range to much paler in the northern drier regions.
IMAGE Black-footed Cat Physical Characteristics
The face has a typical domestic cat appearance with diagonal black lines running the outer corner of each eye across the cheeks. The chin and throat are white and there are two or three distinct dark bands on the chest. The plain ears are slightly rounded and the same base colour as the rest of body. When stalking, the ears are flattened to keep a low profile.
In the wild - less than 8 years
In captivity - up to 16 years
IMAGE Black-footed Cat Facial Characteristics - Image by Gerald Hinde
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