Black Footed Cat


Small Spotted Cat (Black-Footed Cat) – Felis nigripes 


Black-Footed Cat - Description:


The Black-Footed Cat is among the smallest of the world’s cats. Colour varies: cinnamon buff, tawny or off-white. There are dark, rust-tinged bands on top of the shoulders and on the legs with distinct spots of the same colour on the body. On the throat, there are 2-3 black or reddish stripes. Underparts are pale-buff or white. The tail is short and has a black tip. The backs of the ears are the same colour as the body. Total length: 53-63 cm (males) and 49-53 cm (females). Shoulder height: 20-25 cm.  Body weight: 1,5-2,4 kg (males) and 1,0-1,6kg (females). 




Black-Footed Cat – Habits, Behaviour and Social Organisation:


This cat is found in dry, open grasslands and scrub with 100-500 mm rain annually. The Black-Footed Cat is nocturnal; becomes active only after sunset. Shelters during the day in disused springhare burrows, under rock slabs or in holes in termite mounds. They are solitary animals with home ranges of 700-900 hm, of which 70 ha is covered in 4-13 km traveling every night. Play has been observed in young adult littermates. 




Black-Footed Cat – Diet and Hunting:


Their hunt is classically feline: stalk, rush and pounce on prey. Prey is located either by active search or waiting near rodent burrows. Birds may be snatched from the air. Rodents and shrews are killed with a neck or head bite. The whole animal is eaten, including the guts.            


Black-Footed Cat – Reproduction and Offspring:


Gestation: 63-68 days. Litter size: 1-3 kittens. Kittens are born blind weighing 60-90 grams. Eyes open at 3-9 days. Kittens are usually born in the summer; there may be 2 litters a year. Kittens independent at 3 months, but stay in the mother’s home range. 


Black-Footed Cat - Adaptations:


Small size helps it exploit niches larger carnivores can not.


Black-Footed Cat – Population and Distribution:


The black-footed cat is restricted to the more arid southern and central parts of southern Africa. Only recently found to inhabit the west coast and southwestern interior of the Western Cape province. 


Black-Footed Cat Population in Namibia:                                                                             Current population estimate is unknown.


Black-Footed Cat– Conservation Status:


Red Data Book: Rare. CITES Appendix 1.


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