Fun African Golden Cat Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 17, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi
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African golden cat facts will get you intrigued.

The African golden cat (Caracal aurata), which looks similar to the Asian golden cat, is one of the least common cats roaming equatorial Africa. Traditionally known as Profelis aurata and placed in the genus Profelis, later studies showed that African golden cats are more closely related to caracals, which explains their scientific name, Caracal aurata.

Despite their striking resemblance to Asian golden cats (Catopuma temminckii), the two are not closely related. African golden cats are medium-sized with a sturdy and powerful build and relatively short legs.

The fur color ranges from golden or brownish to dark gray or silvery, with four distinctive coat patterns found across their geographical range. These wild cats of Africa face several threats from predators like leopards and reckless human activities.

But these least-known felids of Africa have much more to them. Read on to learn more about these African golden cats.

If you find African golden cats interesting, you will also enjoy reading fun facts about the cheetah and striped polecats.

African Golden Cat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African golden cat?

The African golden cat (Caracal aurata) is a species of wild cat of the cat family Felidae.

What class of animal does an African golden cat belong to?

African golden cats belong to the class of mammals.

How many African golden cats are there in the world?

There is no definite data on the exact number of African golden cats in the wild. However, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, populations of these golden cats are decreasing.

Where does an African golden cat live?

African golden cats primarily live in tropical forests. These animals prefer areas of moist forest with dense overgrowth that may also include bamboo forests, montane forests, wooded savannahs, alpine moorlands, and riverine forests.

What is an African golden cat's habitat?

The primary habitat of African golden cats is the equatorial tropical rainforest of Africa. Even though they have a broad geographic distribution, these animals are mostly found in undisturbed and pristine forest areas.

In the wild, their habitat spans across most of equatorial Africa, with populations concentrated along the west coast of Africa to the north and in Central Africa.

These animals are found from Kenya in the east to Senegal in the west and range from north Angola in the south to as far as the Central African Republic in the north.

Some of these animals have also been found in the Aberdare Mountains in Uganda and Kenya at elevations of up to 11,811 ft (3,600 m).

Who do African golden cats live with?

African golden cats are solitary animals, and their elusive nature has made it quite difficult to study them extensively. Occasionally, pairs of African golden cats may be spotted which could be a mating pair or a young family group.

How long does an African golden cat live?

The African golden cat has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years in captivity. The longevity of the wild population is not known.

How do they reproduce?

Very little is known about the reproductive biology of the African golden cat. It is believed that they form monogamous mating pairs, but there is no evidence to further elaborate on their mating system.

From what is known from studying captive individuals, males of this cat species reach sexual maturity at 18 months of age, whereas females reach sexual maturity when they are about 11 months old. The gestation period lasts about 75 to 78 days, after which a female cat gives birth to one to two offspring.

The kittens are born blind and weigh about 6.3-8.3 oz (180-235 g). Their eyes open when they are about a week old, and weaning takes place at about six to eight weeks of age.

What is their conservation status?

The African golden cat species falls under the Vulnerable category in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Further, this species is listed as Endangered in the National Red List of Uganda and is included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora & Fauna (CITES).

African Golden Cat Fun Facts

What does an African golden cat look like?

African golden cats are medium-sized with a compact build and short, stocky legs. The head is small, with untufted and rounded ears. With variations existing throughout their habitat range, the fur color of this cat species can range from reddish-brown and bright orange to a darkish, silvery gray, or slate color. The throat, chest, and underside are white.

Four different types of coat patterns are found among the various populations of this cat species.

One type has spots all over its body, the second type has indistinct spots on the neck and the back, the third kind has patterns only on the flanks, and the fourth type has spots only on the inner legs and in the belly region.

A distinctive physical feature of this species is that they have white patches along their cheeks and around their eyes and mouth. The back of their ears is usually dark in color.

The iris may be green or golden brown. Their tail is shorter compared to their body length. Further, the tail has a black tip, a dark line on the upper side, and bands of dark rings.

The face of a caracal.

*Please note that this is an image of a caracal, a close relative to an African golden cat. If you have a royalty-free image of an African golden cat please let us know at hello@kidadl.com 

How cute are they?

If you find cats cute in general, then the African golden cat species will also come across as quite cute, especially the kittens. However, many people find the African golden cat's look to be quite menacing.

How do they communicate?

Observation of captive African golden cats has revealed this cat species to be quite threatening and aggressive. When threatened, this cat will arch its back slightly, and the hair on its tail and back will stand erect.

Further, the tail gets curved to form a hook that whips sharply. The head remains angled to one side and is kept lower than the body.

How big is an African golden cat?

The body length of adult African golden cats ranges between 24-40 in (61-101.6 cm), and their tail length is usually between 6.3-18.1 in (16-46 cm). The shoulder height of these cats varies between 15-22 in (38-56 cm). The African golden cat is about twice as big as the domestic cat.

How fast can an African golden cat run?

African golden cats are known to move at a robust pace when they attack prey.

How much does an African golden cat weigh?

Males are usually larger than females, and their weight can range between 12-35 lb (5.4-16 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male African golden cat is called a tom or tomcat, and a female may be called a queen or molly.

What would you call a baby African golden cat?

A baby African golden cat is called either a cub or a kitten.

What do they eat?

African golden cats are carnivorous animals that feed on a wide range of prey. Their diet mainly includes small rodents, red duikers, tree hyraxes, monkeys, small forest antelopes, birds, and occasionally, even fish.

Even though not much is known about the hunting behavior of these forest cats, they are believed to be nocturnal hunters. They may even hunt during dusk, at dawn, or during the day, depending on the availability of prey.

Are they dangerous?

African golden cats can be quite dangerous and threatening, especially if bothered or harassed by a human. However, they remain largely understudied in the wild due to their rarity.

Would they make a good pet?

Since an African golden cat is a wild animal, they are not suited to be domestic pets. Besides, their aggressive nature is something that would not make them a good pet. However, these cats are kept and studied in captivity.

Did you know...

Based on their biogeographical distribution, African golden cats are known to have two subspecies. These subspecies are the Caracal aurata celidogaster in West Africa and Caracal aurata aurata in East and Central Africa.

The short and stocky legs of these African cats are advantageous for arboreal hunting and living in trees

These wild African cats were earlier called Profelis aurata, but in 1917, British zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock placed them in the genus Profelis.

Mbuti pygmies or the Mbuti people of the Democratic Republic of Congo have different names for this cat, such as makolili, osolimi, egabosoti, akalwa, a'ka, and esele. On the other hand, they are known by names such as semaguruet, ekinyange, and embaka in the Lukonja, Lukiga, and Kipsigi languages of East Africa.

The primary threats to the rainforest-dwelling golden African cats are loss of habitat due to extensive deforestation and bushmeat hunting in the Congo basin.

In Uganda, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo, the skin of these cats is sold as wrappers for valuable objects and as good luck charms for hunters.

Hunting golden African cats is banned in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Nigeria, Liberia, Kenya, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Angola.

What animals eat African golden cats?

Leopards are the most common predators of African golden cats and often make up a large part of the diet of these top carnivores. Naturally, these cats will be rarely found in a habitat with a leopard population.

Do African golden cats sleep at night?

These golden cats of Africa are nocturnal creatures that spend most of the night in search of prey instead of sleeping.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals, including Anatolian shepherd dogs or sun bears.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our African golden cat coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi

Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj Tripathi picture

Ambuj TripathiBachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj is a skilled fact checker with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University. He has been recognized for his exceptional content writing skills, having won a CineMedia competition. In addition to his writing abilities, he also has a flair for design.

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