If you haven’t heard about this wild cat before, the Black-footed Cat is the smallest wildcat species in Africa. And while most conservation programmes focus on big cats, this little guy is under just as much threat.
It may look like an adorable house cat, but rest assured this little beast can take care of itself. The Felisnigripes only stands about 20cm tall and weighs around 1-2.5kg. They have soft dark-goldish fur with a spotted pattern across their bodies. Usually they have two dark streaks across their cheeks and dark striping across their legs.
These little creatures have adapted to the desert lifestyle. Their broad skull and large ears allow them enhanced hearing to find prey in a scarce region. And they have hair on the soles of their paws to protect them from the heat of the sand.
Found mostly in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, the Black-footed cat prefers grass plains, sand plains, and scrub desert, including the Kalahari and Karoo Deserts. Legends have claimed that these little cats can bring down a giraffe. Obviously it is not true, but it does reflect the great determination of these felines.
While the cats are usually solitary animals, females and dependent kittens do stay together for a while. Kittens stick with their mothers for up to four months and stick to their mom’s vicinity for quite some time thereafter.
The major threat to these little cats includes overgrazing livestock. This reduces their availability of prey. Poison in carcasses, as these creatures scavenge like jackals. The public is also encouraged not to keep these cats as pets. They are wild animals after all.
When visiting the Kalahari Anib Lodge, keep an eye out for these awesome creatures.
If you have any information or stories on the Black-footed Cat, we invite you to share them in the comment section below.
Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.