The smallest wild cat in the African continent, the black-footed cat is the most lethal hunter in the cat family – domestic and wild cats combined.
According to Nature on PBS, the cat has a 60% success rate in hunting down their prey. This is in contrast to the king of the jungle, the lion, which has a 20% rate of catching their prey.
It’s rare to see black-footed cats due to their nocturnal nature. They are swift hunters, benefiting from the cover of darkness and plants. They usually stalk or approach their prey before they pounce on them. Additionally, they’re swift jumpers as they can catch birds on air as they flew from their predators. The cats can walk for more than 20 miles in search of a meal.
Unlike the domestic cats, Black-footed cats are poor climbers. This is attributed to their stocky bodies and short tails.
They are found in dry-open habitats that has some percentage of plants cover, mostly in southern and central Africa. During the day, they stay in unoccupied burrows or hollow termite mounds.
The black-footed cats are smaller than domestic cats. An average black-footed cat measures between 16-20 inches long. In terms of weight, an average adult can weigh between 1.3-2.5kg.
They are solitary animals and will only be seen in a sociable situation during the breeding season. Also, this will occur among females who have kittens that haven’t reached the age of fending for themselves.
Their feet aren’t black as their name suggests. It’s only the pads and underparts of the cats’ feet that are black. Their skin is pink in colour unlike other wild cats. They are light-brown with black spots spread on their body.
The black-footed cats aided by their big eyes can see their prey at night six times better than humans. Their hearing is impressive as they can hear even the tiniest sound.
A female black-footed cat becomes sexually active at the age of 8-12 months. Their gestation period lasts between 63-68 days. On average, a female will give birth to two kittens. Within a few hours, the newly-born kittens can crawl and at the age of 2 weeks they are capable of walking. They are fully weaned at two-months old though they start taking solid food when they’re one-month old. At the age of five, they become independent of their mothers.