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Small Spotted Cat

Felis nigripes

Description - Other Names - Distribution - Taxonomy

Small Spotted Cat (Felis nigripes) Silhouette

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Small spotted cat © SA Tourism

The small Spotted Cat or the black-footed cat is the smallest wild cat but it is also extremely ferocious. It is found in dry semi desert and savannah regions in southern Africa. They live in unoccupied animal hollows, rock caves and sometimes even in hollow ant-hills.

As the name implies, the black-footed cat is black beneath the feet. The cat has an amber-brown coat with black spots. These spots may merge to form broken horizontal lines. Their legs have black horizontal stripes and the tail has several dark rings with a black tip. They also has a black streak from the eye across the cheek.

Because of their small size, they eat rodents and birds, but will also eat insects and small reptiles when they have the chance. They may catch larger animals and store them in a safe spot to eat later, or they might scavenge on the corpses of large animals such as young buck or lambs. If there is water available the cat will drink, but they obtain their necessary fluid from eating meat.
The black-footed cat keeps to itself and is nocturnal. In courtship, they will only remain together for the necessary time.

The female gives birth to 1 or 2 kittens after a gestation period of 59 - 68 days. Kittens have a fast growth and development rate but gain sexual maturity much later than it takes them to grow.

Other Names


Distribution map of the Small Spotted Cat
Distribution map
of the
Small Spotted Cat


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