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Black-Footed Cat

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 6/19/2009

This article focuses on the black-footed cat. It talks about its range, habitat, hunting and preying, and reproduction habits.

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    The black-footed cat is a rare small wild cat found in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. It prefers parts of the highveld, the Karoo, savannah and arid semi-desert habitats. It can also be found in the Kalahari Desert, but the number of black-footed cats here are sparse. These cats are most active at night so they are rarely seen. During the day they hide in hollow termite mounds, under shrubs and rock slabs and inside springhare burrows. The black-footed cat is also a solitary animal and is rarely seen with others except during mating times. As of today the black-footed cat is on the IUCN Red List as a vulnerable species.

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    The Black-Footed Cat: Description

    The black-footed cat is one of the smallest cats in the world. Adult females weigh an average of 2.9 pounds and adult males weigh an average of 4.2 pounds. Their average shoulder height is ten inches and their body length averages 14-21 inches with an additional 5-8 inch tail. When compared to the rest of their body, their heads seem over-sized. The black-footed cats fur is off-white, tawny or cinnamon and there are distinct black spots around the tail and legs and behind the shoulders. The soles of their feet are black.

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    The Black-Footed Cat: Diet and Hunting

    Since the black-footed cat is a small animal it tends to prey on animals smaller than itself such as small birds and rodents. If these are not available it may choose to hunt cape hare and white-quilled bustard, though these two animals are bigger. The black-footed cat seeks little disturbance, but when cornered it will defend itself fiercely. It consumes about nine ounces of prey each night. A female black-footed cat covers an average of 3.9 square miles of range per year. A male covers an average of 8.5 square miles of range per year. An adult males range tends to overlap the range of one to four females. On average, a black-footed cat will travel approximately five miles each night when searching for prey.

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    The Black-Footed Cat: Reproduction

    On average, a female black-footed cat will have a litter of two kittens. However, litters can consist of just one kitten up to four kittens. Many females will have two litters of kittens. These kittens are typically born during the autumn, spring and summer of the southern hemisphere. Black-footed cat kittens are usually independent in about five months, but many will still stay within the range of their mother.