Fun African Wildcat Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun African Wildcat Facts For Kids

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African wildcats are a species found in North Africa and South Africa as well as in parts of West Africa. These cats are also found in regions like southwest and central Asia, including India, China, Mongolia, parts of the Arabian Sea, and the Caspian Sea. Wildcats are complex species, and there are two main small wild cat species (the European wildcat and the African wildcat). Domestic cats are considered to have evolved from the African wildcat between 4000 and 10,000 years ago, with cat domestication believed to have begun somewhere around 9,500 years ago in the Middle East. These cats are considered as Least Concern today and have a very wide distribution.

In this article, we will take a look at some interesting facts about the African wildcat (Felis lybica).  If you liked this article why not learn about the American Eskimo dog and the Maine Coon too?

Fun African Wildcat Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Rats, gerbils, and lizards

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

7.7 lb (3.5 kg)

How long are they?

28 in (70 cm)

How tall are they?

9 in (23 cm)

What do they look like?

Sandy brown

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Crossbreeding With Domestic Cats

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

And The Caspian Sea, The Arabian Peninsula


Northern Africa, South Africa, China, India, And Mongolia









African Wildcat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African wildcat?

The subspecies known as the African wildcat (also known as Felis silvestris lybica) is a cat.

What class of animal does an African wildcat belong to?

The African wildcat belongs to the mammal class of species and belongs to the felidae family.

How many African wildcats are there in the world?

The exact number of African wildcats in the world is estimated at 600 million. They are considered to be one of the oldest species of cats and their populations are now decreasing due to mixed breeding with domestic cats as well as loss of habitat. In many regions, no rules exist to protect this species of animals.  

Where does an African wildcat live?

African wildcats exist in all kinds of habitats, except the tropical rainforest and in extremely cold regions. They might also be found as domesticated pets in some households but, given that they have innate hunting skills, they are likely to bring small rats (dead or alive) into their home.

What is an African wildcat's habitat?

The African wildcat is one of the most adaptable species. Its found in deserts, savannahs, grasslands, and scrubs as well as open forests. This species of animals are absent from tropical rainforests since this temperate climate does not suit the cat. In parts of Kenya, Algeria and Ethiopia these felines have been found at an altitude of 9843 ft (3000 m) in the mountain regions.

Who do African wildcats live with?

In the wild, the typical African wildcat lives with other wildcats, but when domesticated they live independently. These cats like having the liberty to move around at their own pace and they do not accept being restricted into particular spaces.

How long does an African wildcat live?

The average lifespan of an African wildcat is 16 years.

How do they reproduce?

The Felis lybica usually mates from September to March. In parts of the northern Sahara, breeding takes place from January to March. This cat attains sexual maturity between nine and 12 months and the gestation period lasts 56-68 days. In this time the female allows only one male into her territory and males mate with up to three females throughout their lifetime. An African wildcat kitten is born blind and needs constant attention and care from its mother, so these kittens stay with their mother for five to six months after birth.

What is their conservation status?

The African wildcat is classified under the Least Concern category according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The main threat to the survival of the southern African wildcat is its tendency to crossbreed with domestic cats.  

African Wildcat Fun Facts

What do African wildcats look like?

The African wildcat(Felis lybica) is a wild cat that typically has longer legs than a domestic cat. They have a body length of 18.1-26.2 in (46-66.5 cm) and they have a thin tapering tail which is 15.7 in (40 cm) long. They have partly pointed ears, also called rufus ears, which are highly sensitive and have a reddish coloring on the back of their ears, abdomen, and on their back.

(* Please note that this is an image of a wildcat, not an African wild cat specifically. If you have an image of an African wild cat please let us know at [email protected])

The African wildcat is also known by its scientific name Felis lybica and is widely distributed in both northern Africa and southern Africa.

How cute are they?

African wildcats (Felis lybica) are extremely unique in their appearance. Their kittens are extremely cute and small in size and they grow up to look like majestic beings.  

How do they communicate?

African wildcats (like domestic cats) are generally solitary, they communicate only while mating, and in times of danger females signal fear with ears that are flattened and pointed out slightly. They are protective of their territories and their ears can rotate rapidly to identify sounds and signals.

How big is an African wildcat?

Southern African wildcats have a body length of 28 in (70 cm), which is much bigger than the rusty-spotted cat. This wildcat subspecies is recognized as the smallest cat species in the world and has a body length of 14-19 in (35-48 cm).

How fast can an African wildcat run?

The African wildcat can run 50 mph (80kmph) to catch its prey.

How much does an African wildcat weigh?

An African wildcat weighs 7.7 lb (3.5 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for male and female African wildcats (just like with domestic cats) and it is difficult to tell male and female wildcats apart. However, there are certain distinct features that can help tell them apart. For example, a female African wildcat is usually very pale grey with brown striped fur. The female cat is also responsible for taking care of kittens and teaching them how to capture prey.

What would you call a baby African wildcat?

Baby African wildcats are referred to as kittens. An African wildcat normally gives birth to one kitten per litter but, throughout its life, it can give birth to two or three (and sometimes even five) kittens hidden in hollows or burrows. Mothers are protective of their offspring and stay with them at all times. Kittens, when born, are blind hence they are vulnerable to predators like foxes, wolves, large birds, and other wild animals as well as accidents or diseases.  

What do they eat?

African wildcat populations are found throughout Africa and in a wide variety of habitats and primarily feed on rats and mice. Apart from this, they consume small birds, insects, and amphibians if available.

Are they slobbery?

Both domestic cats and wild cats are known to keep themselves clean at all times and are considered less slobbery than dogs.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these are not suitable human pets. Keeping an African wildcat pet is not a simple task, although they can be domesticated they cannot be devoid of their instinct to hunt and move about independently. It also essential to check for your local regulations when it comes to owning this unique species. They don't like human contact and their natural habitat is in the wild in Africa, so removing them from here is not generally a good idea.

Did you know...

The Libyan postal service, in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) dedicated a postage stamp in honor of these wild cats on November 1, 1997.

African wild cats are often bred with domestic cats, hence the increasing amount of mix wild cats with similar features in the world. Pure African wildcats are now decreasing in number due to this increased breeding with domestic cats.  

These cats rarely drink water and feed on rats and insects available in the wild. Their food digestion is slow, which helps them sustain themselves for longer periods of time.

How to identify an African wildcat

African wildcats move more like cheetahs than domestic cat species since they have long legs setting them apart from other domestic cat species. These unique beings also have 'tabby' markings on their body and can easily camouflage into bushes in case predators arrive. When this wild cat sits, its legs raise its body into an almost vertical position which is impossible for domestic cat species to hold. Such a position is seen in Ancient Egyptian bronze Mummy tomb paintings and cases.  

What are common similarities between cats and the African wildcat?

African wildcat cats are one of the oldest species of cats and hybrids between this cat and other species of domestic cats and feral domestic cats are seen in large numbers and are widely distributed around the world. As cat species, both the domestic cat and the Southern African wildcat are very sensitive to sounds and keep themselves clean at all times. Wild cats are more protective of their territories and habitat than domestic cats and another point of difference between common cat species and the African wildcat is that the earlier is more outspoken than the latter. Common cats tend to communicate more using sounds when compared to wildcats. African wildcats also have long legs which are something that a common domestic cat does not possess. These long legs help them traverse great distances and catch prey. Common cats can be domesticated and are most often found in human homes, however, African wildcats are best seen in their natural habitat in the wild in Africa. They don't like close contact with humans but visiting sanctuaries and reserves in both Northern and Southern Africa might help you to catch a glimpse of the species will help and will help you to find these unique beings at their best.

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 the Siberian tiger, or the liger.

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

Written By
Team Kidadl

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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