The Black-footed Cat: Profile and Information

Black-footed Cat

The black-footed cat, also known as the small-spotted cat, is the smallest wild cat in Africa, having a body size of 35–52 cm. Regardless of its name, the bases of its feet are barely black.

The black-footed cat has bold tiny spots and stripes on its brown fur.

It is well disguised, particularly at night, and possesses dark lines running from the corners of its eyes along with the cheeks, and its banded tail has a black pointer. The black-footed cat average weight is between 2.4 lb and 4.2 lb.

Scientific category

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Sub-order: Feliformia
  • Family: Felidae
  • Sub-family: Felinae
  • Genus: Felis
  • Species: F. nigripes

Physical description

Black-footed Cat

Like many animals, females are often smaller than males. The head to body length (excluding the tail) for a male black-footed cat is approximately 14 to 17 inches long. Their tail is around 6 to 8 inches long.

The male, black-footed cat is generally about 8 to 10 inches tall when measuring from their shoulders.

Black-footed cats are buff-colored with large dark oval spots, and their legs have big black stripes on the legs, the tails, and the neck of this fascinating little wild cat.

The bottom of the paw and the paw pads are dark; that is where the name black-footed cat was gotten. The skin of a black-footed cat is different from other wild cats because their skin is pink, and it has enormous eyes.

Natural environment

Black-footed cats are nighttime inhabitants of the arid territories of southern Africa and are commonly attributed to open, sandy, grassy environments with scarce brush and tree cover.

Although black-footed cats are inadequately surveyed in the wild, their favorable habitat appears to be savannah regions, which maintains long grass with increased rodent and bird population.

In the day, black-footed cats live in deserted tunnels or holes. Throughout a year, a male black-footed cat can travel up to 8.5 sq. mi. while females black-footed cats can go up to 4 sq. mi.

The male’s habitat extends over the territories of one to four female black-footed cats.


Black-footed Cat

Black-footed cats are aboriginal to the dry regions of the southern parts of Africa like Angola, Nambia, Zimbabwe, but not in the sandiest or most sterile area of the Namib or Kalahari deserts.

Before the abundances of black-footed cats reduced, there have been so many sightings of black-footed cats in Botswana. Recently, no black-footed cat has been seen in Botswana for a long time.


Black-footed cat females attain sexual maturity around 8 to 12 months. They are in estrus for just a day to two at once, during which, on limited hours of that, they are willing to mate.

Female black-footed cats can maintain two litters yearly.


Female black-footed cats typically have two kitties but occasionally have three kittens or only one kitty. It is relatively unusual, but it occurred that there were four kitties in a litter.

The gestation period is about 63-68 days. Kitten weighs about 2 to 3 ounces at birth; they are blind and entirely dependent on their mothers. Black-footed cats (kitties) grow more rapidly than household kittens.

They have to because the habitat they reside in can be hazardous. Black-footed cats (kitten) starts walking around two weeks of age. When they are about a month old, black-footed cats (kitties) start consuming dense food and are separated at about two months of age.

Where black-footed cat (kitten) are born and grown is a burrowed den, and black-footed cats (mother) would continuously move the kittens to new locations after they are nearly a week old.

Black-footed cats (kitten) are independent when they are four or five months old. Black-footed cats (kitties) may stay in their mother’s habitat for some time after becoming independent.

Sociable system behavior and interaction

There is insufficient information about black-footed cats, but like most other little cats, black-footed cats are distant and assemble just for breeding. Black-footed cats are incredibly hostile. These cats are barely ever sighted. They will run away and take cover at the slightest hint of an individual or something coming.

The calls of a black-footed cat are audible than those of other cats of similar size, probably to enable them to call over vast distances. Nevertheless, when close to each other, black-footed cats make use of quiet gurgles or purrs. If they feel threatened, they will hiss and even growl.

It is thought that black-footed cats are rigorously nocturnal being functional between sunset and sunrise. During the day hours, they rest in densely surrounded neighborhoods. Black-footed cats have been recognized to spend the daylight hours in vacant burrows of porcupines, springhares, and aardvarks.

These cats will dig in the sand to modify those caves and dens in the way they want. Black-footed cats have also been found sleeping in hollow termite ridges during the day. If a black-footed cat is cornered, they can be violent. Due to that character, they are sometimes called miershooptier when translated means ‘anthill tigers’.

Black-footed cats caption their territories using scent by spraying urine. They also scent-mark by clawing and rubbing on things. Black-footed cats will also mark their territories by putting their poop where others can quickly notice it.

Hunting and food

In essence, black-footed cats’ diet includes mainly of little mammals and birds, arachnids, insects, and reptiles. In bondage, many black-footed cats are provided with local feline foods and mice, and more analysis into their healthy requirements is guaranteed.

Black-footed cats hunt by stalking, running, and pouncing technique, or they wait outside of the holes of their prey homes. These cats can wander for 5 miles a night while hunting.

Black-footed cats possess elevated energy requirements than other African cats because of this. It may kill and consume about 14 little prey animals at dusk.

Black-footed cats are bad climbers. They are not enthusiastic about tree branches. The reason is that their sturdy bodies and short tails make climbing of trees uncomfortable.

They can get all the water it needs from its prey but will drink water when it’s accessible. The black-footed cat is recognized for its courage and determination.

Primary Threats

There is little information about black-footed cats’ real status in the wild, and farmer’s rare reports of catching black-footed cats are a problem in animal studies.

Black-footed cats have few natural enemies in farming regions (except caravan and jackals, which might be more common than initially suspected).

The loss of grassland because of overgrazing by livestock is common throughout the species’ ranges. It might well be their biggest threat. The black-footed cat is among the lesser researched wild cats of Africa.

It is included in CITES Appendix I and maintained by national legislation across most of its range. Hunting of black-footed cat is banned in Botswana and South Africa.

The black-footed cat has unusual renal interests that could be diet or stress-related. These dilemmas might be harmful to their lifespan in zoos. Recent studies claim to hold promise for the black-footed cat, and more importations are probable.

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