The wild cat has not been studied in the wild very much and has maintained staple populations throughout its
territories. It's home ranges from 3 different continents, with many
sub-species. As a species, the wildcat is divided into many regional
subspecies and their number and classification varies depending on which
school of thought is followed. Domestication of the African wildcat by
the ancient Egyptians is thought to have taken place around 4,000 -
8,000 years ago. African villagers still adopt wildcat kittens as pets,
and keep them around the house to control rodent populations. The
African sub-species are thought to be the ancestors of the domestic cat.
They can be split into three main groups, with various sub-species
within each group.
silvestris lybica - North Africa
silvestris brockmani - East Africa
silvestris cafra - Southern Africa
silvestris foxi - West Africa
silvestris griselda - Central Africa
silvestris jordansi - Majorcan wild cat
silvestris ocreata - East Central Africa
silvestris pyrrhus - West Central Africa
silvestris sarda - Sardinia and Sicily wild cats
silvestris silvestris - Europe
silvestris caucasia - Caucasian Mountains and Turkey
silvestris grampia - Northern Scotland
silvestris caudata - Caspian Sea area
silvestris ornata - India to Iran
silvestris shawiana - China and Mongolia
Wildcats are a more robust, ‘wild’ versions of the domestic cat Felis
catus, and have similar behaviors and food habits. Never the less, they
are a pure wild cat and not a feral domestic cat. Wildcats show a wide
variety of ground colors, depending on habitat. Colors can vary from a darker grayish brown and
grayish yellow in forested habitat, to a pale sandy brown or grayish
color in semi desert and steppe country. They are mainly nocturnal and
terrestrial, although they are also accomplished climbers. They usually
stalk their prey, attempting to approach within a few bounds before
pouncing. Their diet consists of a variety of rodents such as mice,
rats, voles, and gerbils, as well as rabbits, birds, reptiles, frogs,
fish, insects and domestic poultry.
African wild cats occur throughout Africa in a wide variety of
habitats. They are absent only from tropical rainforest. In desert
regions they are restricted to mountainous areas and waterways. They
occur up to >3000 m in montane areas.
Asiatic wild cats are found primarily in scrub desert, but can be
found in a wide variety of habitats. They are absent from alpine and
steppe grasslands and the northern limit of their distribution may be
determined by snow depth. They can be found up to 3000 m in mountains
and are usually found in areas near water sources.
European wild cats are found primarily in deciduous forests.
They are also known from coniferous forests, but these may be marginal
habitats. They are restricted in their northern distribution by snow
depth and are typically found in areas of low human populations.
European wild cats cannot persist in areas where snow depth in the
winter is more than 20 cm deep for more than 100 days. They are known
from human dominated landscapes where grazing is the dominant form of
agriculture and, therefore, land use is not intensive. They are also
known from scrublands, riparian habitats, and coastal areas.