African Wildcats are the ancestors of all modern Domestic cats. Though they have existed for thousands of years, purebred African Wildcats are very rare today.
African Wildcat History
The African Wildcat, also known as the Egyptian Wildcat, resides throughout most parts of Africa, southwest and central Asia, India, China, and Mongolia. They became the first domesticated cats when ancient Egyptians took them in and used them to protect their grain supplies from rodents 10,000 years ago. They now live in forests, savannas, wooded grasslands, and semi-desert regions.
Today's domestic cats trace their ancestry back to the African Wildcat. Because they often crossbreed freely with feral domestic cats, genetically pure African Wildcats are extremely rare.
African Wildcat Traits
African Wildcats are similar in appearance to domestic shorthaired tabby cats—only slightly larger and more robust.
Coat and Coloring
The African Wildcat's coat comes in a range of colors, including sandy, grey-brown, and dark grey. These cats have stripes that run the length of their bodies, and they often have cream patches on their throats, stomachs, and between their front legs.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Other features that distinguish African Wildcats from domestic cats are their bushy, blunted tails, longer legs, and reddish-brown color on the backs of their ears.
African Wildcat Temperament
African Wildcats are mostly solitary, nocturnal animals. They're excellent climbers, but they do most of their hunting on the ground. Their primary form of communication is scent marking. During mating season, however, male cats make themselves known through loud "caterwauling."
African Wildcat Care
The African Wildcat's diet consists mainly of rodents. But they also hunt rabbits, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
African Wildcats groom themselves to keep clean and remove their scent—which helps keep potential prey from detecting them.
Domestic cats can spread diseases to African Wildcats. Commonly transmitted illnesses include feline leukemia, coronavirus, calicivirus, and feline immunodeficiency virus.