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Purrrfect Facts About The Scottish Wildcat Cat Kids Will Love

You would love reading these fascinating Scottish wildcat facts.

The Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) is a wildcat population found in Scotland. These wildcats are beautiful, elegant, and regal, walking around with a thick striped coat. They are often confused with domestic cats, showing similar body features and colors.

These wildcats in Scotland have unfortunately been tagged as a Critically Endangered species. The main reasons for the population decline of Scotland's wildcats include hybridization, diseases, and harsh winters in the Scottish highlands. Any hybrid Scottish wildcat cannot be truly accepted as a true species, and hence the population of true Scottish wildcats are much lesser without the hybrids. Various measures have been taken for the conservation of these wild mammals of the Scottish highlands.

Scotland's woodlands, highlands, and forest edges are the ideal habitat. Some animals love to eat are rabbits, voles, and hares. Their diet also includes small birds, stray kittens, birds, and other reptiles.

Want to know about other interesting mammals? Check out our pages on the brown hyena and ringtail cat!

Scottish Wildcat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Scottish wildcat?

Scottish wildcats are a type of wildcat.

What class of animal does a Scottish wildcat belong to?

Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) belongs to the class of mammals.

How many Scottish wildcats are there in the world?

Less than 500 Scottish wildcats are currently surviving in the world that match the genetic criteria.

Where does a Scottish wildcat live?

The Scottish wildcat population is said to be distributed among regions of the Cairngorms, Aberdeenshire, Ardnamurchan, the Black Isle, and even the Angus Glens. 

What is a Scottish wildcat's habitat?

Scottish wildcats prefer wooded habitats for their dens and are usually spotted lurking along the forest edges. However, they are known to avoid gorse scrub and flowery moorlands. They also avoid agricultural plots. They can stay in places having less snow, but snow deeper than 4 in (10 cm) is absolutely avoided. They stay at low elevations and are known to stay away from coastlines. 

Who do Scottish wildcats live with?

This European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) is a solitary feral species.

How long does a Scottish wildcat live?

The European wildcat or Scottish wildcat is said to have lived up to 15 years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Around the age of 10 months, male wildcats reach their maturity and are prepared for breeding, whereas the female might take close to 12 months. Mating activities usually take place between January to March, and a litter is born after a pregnancy of about nine weeks. The litter size varies between the cats – some may have only one kitten, while some may have eight. It is really rare that a Scottish wildcat gives birth on the cold winter days. Only one litter is produced every year. 

Once the kittens are born, they are blind and need extra care from their mothers. The male parents do not stay back to look after the litter. The new kittens born open their eyes only about 10-14 days after their birth. Initially, they have blue eyes, and as they grow older, it changes to shades of green at about seven weeks. 

Scottish wildcat kittens are born in the warmth of a den that is well protected and hidden among brush piles. About 10-12 weeks of age, they begin to learn how to hunt. By three and a half months of age, these kittens are fully weaned. Once the wildcat kitten is six months old, it begins an independent life.

What is their conservation status?

The European wildcat or Scottish wildcat conservation status is Critically Endangered.

Scottish Wildcats Fun Facts

What do Scottish wildcats look like?

The thick fur of this mammal is well striped with stabby patterns. The Scottish wildcat tail is ringed, bushy, and ends with a black tip. You might identify it as a domestic cat, but know this; the main difference between these species is the striped cheeks and hind limbs and the absence of coloring on the back of their ears. They also do not have white marks or spots on their bodies. Talking about Scottish wildcat vs domestic cat comparison, domestic cats are said to be 50% smaller than these wildcats.

A Scottish wildcat has more bodyweight than a domestic cat and has longer limb bones, as well. They also possess a more robust skull. This wildcat species has a small gastrointestinal tract. They have a thick hairy coat that keeps them warm on cold winter days. They have multiple sensory hairs, as well. You can see long whiskers on their faces. Also, Scottish wildcats are well known for having enormous jaws. If they open their mouths, you can see the large canines sticking out. The back teeth are known to cross over each other extremely closely. The bottom edge of their jawbone has a small lump that is protruding from it.

Ideally, three large stripes or bars along the sides of the face are the known Scottish wildcat markings. These strips run down from their eye to the jawline. As they reach the jawline, two of these stripes fuse together, making it a total of only two stripes reaching the end. The true Scottish wildcat individuals have light brown-hued fur around their mouths. Even the underside of these wildcats is in a light brown shade. Exact distinct features are difficult to specify due to the Scottish wildcat hybrid creatures.

Scottish wildcats are larger in size in comparison to domestic cats.

How cute are they?

Scottish wildcats are just too cute to resist!

How do they communicate?

All wildcats are known to mark their territories by urinating on various surfaces and objects throughout their range. When the females are ready for breeding, they communicate with strong scents which attract male wildcats. These mammals have their scent glands placed around their mouths, at the base of their bushy tails, and even on their foreheads.

Visual communication is another method with which these wildcats express their thoughts. Movement of their tails, raising the body hair on the backs and even facial expressions all hold meaning. 

Common vocalizations include hisses, growls, purrs, and even squeaks. 

How big is a Scottish wildcat?

The body lengths of Scottish wildcats range between 19.8-25 in (50.3-63.5 cm), with an additional tail length of 11-14 in (28-36 cm).

The Scottish wildcat size comparison can not be made with a Chinese hamster as these hamsters are a lot smaller.

How fast can Scottish wildcats run?

Thanks to the strong thigh muscles in Scottish wildcats, these creatures can run up to speeds of 30 mph (48 kph).

How much do Scottish wildcats weigh?

Male wildcats weigh around 8-16 lb (3.7-7 kg). Females have much smaller bodies, weighing about 5-10.5 lb (2-4.7 kg). On the other hand, a Scottish wildcat kitten weighs about 0.22-0.33 lb (100-150 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A female wildcat is known as a queen, while a male wildcat is called a tom.

What would you call a baby Scottish wildcat?

A wildcat baby is called a kitten.

What do they eat?

Many creatures of the wildlife fall prey to these wildcats in Scotland such as European rabbits, and field voles. Other animals which are fed upon by Scottish wildcats include wood mice, hares, rats, deer fawns, voles, rabbits, and other small mammals. Invertebrates, birds, fish, and reptiles are very rarely attacked. Even animals killed on the road are eaten by these wildcats.

There have been claims that they also eat lambs, sheep, and even game birds in agricultural regions.

Are they dangerous?

They live away from the human population but are aggressive creatures.

Would they make a good pet?

A Scottish wildcat pet may seem exciting, but taming them is not so easy, so this seems like a bad idea.

Did you know...

Wildcats are exceptionally good hunters and are known to maintain stealth and patience while hunting. The moment they find their prey vulnerable, they just pounce on them and bite down the throat or spine of the prey.

Camera-trapping surveys were conducted in the beautiful Scottish Highland areas which brought about an easy way to identify Scottish wildcats and other breeds. It was found that feral, domestic cats usually lurk in open grasslands, whereas, Scotland's wildcats preferred roaming in mixed woodland areas.

In Scottish Gaelic, the wildcat is called 'cat-fiadhaich'.

Highland Wildlife Park has about 80 wildcats surviving that are encouraged in breeding.

Are Scottish wildcats Endangered?

The biggest threat is hybridisation of the wildcats with domestic cats. A Scottish wildcat is made to breed with domestic cats or feral cats. These hybrid kittens grow up and are later made to breed again with domestic cats. Thus, the number of true Scottish wildcats has been drastically reducing. Also, feral cats are known to infect the pure wildcats with fatal diseases. Scottish winters are known to be very difficult to survive for these little creatures, and such diseases contribute to a shorter lifespan. If these threats were to be continued, it might soon leed to Scottish wildcat extinction.

However, measures have been taken to save the Scottish wildcat population. In the year 2007, this wildcat has been titled as a species of priority in the U.K. Biodiversity Action Plan. Another plan, called the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan, was introduced by the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Group, whose efforts and implementation was coordinated by the Scottish Natural Heritage.

To keep these wildcats of Europe safe, various breeding programmes have been introduced that helps keep this mammal in captivity and encourage breeding activities. One such breeding programme in the frame of the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan has been supported by various institutions. Some of them are Highland Wildlife Park, Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Aigas Field Centre, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, British Wildlife Centre, and Chester Zoo.

Can wildcats be tamed?

Most accounts of these Scottish wildcats have mentioned the aggressive nature of these creatures. If they come across any humans, they resort to showing their teeth, hissing, and spitting. They stare right into the eyes of the pursuer. They do not tolerate anyone breaching their territory, and would not think twice to attack.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these white tiger exciting facts and Siberian tiger fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable cat coloring pages.

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