Why the Black-Footed Cat Is Capturing the World's Attention | petMD

Why the Black-Footed Cat Is Capturing the World's Attention

By Aly Semigran    January 22, 2018 at 02:55PM

 

A clip from BBC One's "Big Cats" series featuring an adorable, albeit lethal, feline has gone viral. The video, which has garnered over 50,000 retweets on Twitter, focuses on the African black-footed cat and her title as the deadliest cat on the planet. 

 

People can't seem to get enough of the black-footed cat, which looks more like a sweet house cat than a vicious predator but has a wildly impressive 60 percent kill rate during hunts. 

 

So what else should we know about the black-footed cat? Well, plenty. Nicci Wright, the consultant to HSI-AFRICA and wildlife rehabilitation specialist at the JHB Wildlife Veterinary Hospital in Midrand, South Africa, filled petMD in on the details about this impressive feline. 

 

The small, but mighty black-footed cat (adults usually weigh between 3.9 and 4.4 pounds), "reside in the arid regions and selected scrubby grassland areas of South Africa and possibly marginally into Zimbabwe and Botswana," Wright explained. 

 

With their distinct markings and spots, the black-footed cat is almost like a leopard, in more ways than one. "They have a specific attitude which is peculiar to the species and are like miniature leopards in that they are remarkably athletic hunters, solitary, strong and brave cats," Wright said. 

 

These small cats, which can hunt upward of 14 times a night (!), "live in disused termite mounds or burrows," Wright said. "Rodents such as gerbils and shrews are the black-footed cat's main prey items, followed by small birds and invertebrates such as scorpions and small snakes."

 

Listed as a "vulnerable" species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the cat is "protected by the national conservation laws of South Africa where hunting or keeping them is illegal," Wright said.

 

Even with the laws protecting them, the black-footed cat, the rarest of the Felidae species in Africa, faces troubles due to habitat loss from farming, Wright said. "Awareness and education are the keys to preserving this incredible cat which so few people even know about," she said. 

 

Image via Shutterstock 

 

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