Did you know that the wild cat is a typical species of the Mediterranean forest? This feral carnivorous mammal is the precedent of the current domestic cat. The Felis silvestris, as it is called in Asia and Europe, is larger than the specimens that we welcome as pets and has a more elusive character due to its marked survival instinct.
Despite being in danger of extinction, it is possible to adopt it in a conventional home. Of course, if you dare to do it, you must be patient and obtain the licenses that are required for its possession. Next, we delve into the characteristics and curiosities of this species that is so much ours.
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The wild cat, physical characteristics
It is believed that it comes from the Mastelli wildcat ( Felis lunensis ), a wild cat that inhabited the old continent during the Pliocene. It is a muscular and robust feline , the males are larger than the females. The sagittal crest, the bony protrusion that runs through the upper central area of the skull, is larger in them than in them.
In this species, sexual dimorphism is usual, that is, the cohabitation of sexual organs of both genders. Its muzzle is short and its gaze challenging and intelligent. Some specimens may carry several white spots on the neck and in the groin area.
|Weight of 6 to 12 kg males and 4 to 8 kg females|
|Hair of medium length, thick, dense and with a satin appearance. It is grayish-brown in color with dark stripes all over the body, except for the abdomen, which is usually dark white or with black spots.|
|Head broad, four black bands converging towards the back|
|Large, pointed ears|
|Large, round, amber or green eyes with a vertical pupil|
|Long, broad and bushy tail with a rounded tip showing at least 3 black rings|
|Estimated longevity of 6 to 12 years|
|Difficulty caring for it high|
Geographic distribution of the wildcat
This species is present throughout Europe (France, Italy, Spain or Germany) and in most of the Mediterranean islands. In the case of the Iberian Peninsula, there is a higher density in southern Spain.
In fact, its 3 subspecies deserve your attention:
- Felis silvestris silvestris. Their populations are located in the north of the Iberian Peninsula.
- Felis silvestris tartessia. They live south of the Duero and Ebro rivers. They are characterized by having a darker coat and being somewhat larger than the silvestris silvestris .
- Felis lybica jordansi. She is a native of Africa and we found her in Mallorca.
In Latin America there are the subspecies Leopardus Geoffroyi and Leopardus Colocolo, while in the USA the Lynx Rufus stands out .
Did you know that the only difference between the wildcat and the Iberian lynx lies in their size?
The second is somewhat larger than the wildcat, but they share the rest of their physical characteristics and habits.
The mediterranean forest
This species thrives in thick, well-preserved forests, far from urban centers, full of people. Thus, it inhabits the Mediterranean scrub in the south and the center of the Iberian Peninsula, as well as in the steppes, deciduous forests and wetlands of the north.
Wildcat temperament and habits
The basis of their diet is made up of small prey such as small birds, rodents and, above all, rabbits. Occasionally they come to hunt deer. Their hunting method is stalking or assaulting nests to devour the chickens and eggs they harbor. Twilight and nocturnal animals that they are, they hunt at night and sleep during the day .
However, in the winter months they may choose to hunt during the day. Besides being excellent hunters, they are good climbers and swimmers. They live alone, although they can associate in pairs to hunt, never with another male. They usually share their territory with 3 or 5 females. They are elusive cats that avoid human presence .
To mark the territory that they consider to be their property, they usually urinate in specific areas, scratch trees, deposit their feces in high areas and rub their anal glands in the vegetation. They reproduce at the beginning of the year. They give birth to litters of 3 or 4 puppies in April or May and reach sexual maturity at 10 months of age.
The health of the wildcat
The main pathologies with which this species is related are the feline coronavirus , distemper, feline leukemia and parvovirus. Apart from these diseases, the conditions that can compromise their survival are those derived from rodents that eat them or injuries caused by fighting with other animals.
The wildcat of today must deal with several processes that entail certain risks for its subsistence as a species. Not surprisingly, they are in danger of extinction due to:
- The loss of rabbit populations.
- The fragmentation of some of its populations, due to deforestation.
- The use of non-selective hunting methods.
- Hybridization of the domestic cat.
Ultimately, the wild cat is a very much our species that connects us with the origins of the kittens with whom we coexist and in whose preservation we should strive. What do you think?