European wild cat
Other French names: Chat sylvestre. Chat Sauvage,
The Wildcat has a very broad
distribution, found throughout most of Africa,
and Southwest and Central Asia
with five subspecies.
wildcats are a little larger than the average domestic
cat, measuring between 70 cm and 1 metre in length (including
the tail), with an average weight of around 4 to 5 kg in
males and between 3.5 and 4 kg in females. Body mass of
individuals can vary greatly depending on the season as
with many mammals.
They have a long, thick coat, broad head, and
comparatively flat face. The coat has a base colour of tan
or greyish tan with defined black or dark stripes on the
head, neck, limbs, along the back. These are connected to
a rather distinct black dorsal line that starts between
the shoulder blades and runs until the end of the body
(but not the tail). The tail is cylindrical, has black
rings (more marked towards the end) and a thick black
terminal end (about 3.5 to 4 cm wide) as opposed to the
domestic cat in which it is tapered.
The Wildcats cat
skull is larger, its hind legs are short and strong and
the fur is thicker than the domestic cats, giving it a
compact, chunky look.
However, hybridization occurs between the Wild cat and
domestic cat, especially between strays and feral animals
making it impossible to distinguish visually with
certainty with genetic analysis the only 100% certain
Generally a species in France
that is associated with large dense forests they are shy
and avoid all contact with humans and areas of human
activity. They are solitary apart from the brief periods
of sexual contact and for females raising their young
which can be 6 months or more. Mating usually takes place
in winter, (Dec, Jan, Feb). Following a gestation of 63 –
69 days the female will give birth to 3 or 4 kittens that
will achieve sexual maturity between 10 months and 1 year.
Maximum lifespan is 10 to 12 years in the wild.
Diet is principally small and medium mammals, voles,
shrews, rabbits etc. Birds, hares, insects and some
reptiles will be taken to a lesser extent.
Like most wild cats they are very sensitive to the same
viral diseases of domestic cat (typhus, feline AIDS,
feline leukaemia). The epidemiology and impact of these
diseases on wild cat populations isn’t known.
The fragmentation of forested
areas is a definite threat to the populations of wild cat
as is the cross breeding with domestic breeds should it
occur as mentioned above with road kill and persecution
being additional causes of death.