With a long, thick coat, a broad head, and a comparatively flat face, the European wildcat has the appearance of a large, powerful wild cat. (Ironically, it could also be mistaken for a large domestic tabby cat!). Its coat is gray-brown, marked with dark stripes on the head, neck, limbs, and along the back. The wildcat’s tail is thick and marked with dark rings and a black tip.
- Scientific Designation: Felis silvestris
- Endangered Status: Least Concern (LC)
- Lifespan: Up to 15 years (wild)
- Weight: 3-6 kg
- Length: 55-80 cm
- Tail Length: 25-40 cm
The cat’s distribution ranges from Europe to Russia.
The European wildcat lives in a variety of habitats throughout its range. It requires cover for hunting and rest sites. Although an excellent climber, the wildcat hunts almost exclusively on the ground, mostly at night. It usually hunts by moving slowly and quietly through its territory, but also employs the sit-and-wait predator method. The cat feeds on a variety of small prey, especially rodents, but will also engage with larger animals such as hares, rabbits, and young deer.
Threats to the European Wildcat
Although the exact status of the European wildcat in the wild is unknown, its population is known to be declining. Throughout history, this cat has been considered to be vermin and has been hunted heavily over much of its range. Other threats to the European wildcat include habitat loss, habitat destruction, hybridization with domestic cats, and disease transmission from domestic cats.
It is listed in appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
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