The sand cat is the only member of the cat family, both domesticated and wild cats, that can withstand extreme weather conditions. These cats live in stony and sandy deserts stretching from Sahara Desert in North Africa to some regions in Middle East and Central Asia.
These cute cats prefer dry, arid areas with little vegetation – rocky valleys and dry plains. They can live for many weeks at a time without drinking water because they’re well adapted in this environment.They get the needed moisture from their prey. They can be likened to camels which can live for many weeks without water.
The desert climatic conditions are not always favourable. But, these cats have adapted to desert’s extreme weather conditions. The temperatures can be as high as fifty-two degrees centigrade and can drop to negative fifty degrees centigrade.
Their feet is well-suited in walking on shifting sand and in rocky areas with ease. This is due to the dense hair and pads in the sole of each of their foot which also insulates them from the hot sand. They have burrows as their homes which also provide shelter during the extreme climatic conditions.
The desert cats have big eyes and small nose. Additionally, they’ve big ears which aids in cooling temperature in their bodies when it’s too hot. Their fur is pale, sandy or light brownish-yellow in colour. Some of them have spots and stripes spread on their bodies while others don’t have stripes or spots. Others, theirs is faintly spotted.
Also known as the dune cats, they were first discovered in 1858 during an expedition that was led by Jean Aguste Marguerite. They derive their scientific name, Felis Margarita, from Jean A. Marguerite.
Sand cats are solitary animals, probably more solitary than any other cat as they can live up to a year on their own. The only time it socializes with another cat is when it hooks up with a mate.
The gestation period of a female sand cat is 59-66 days. A female can give birth to a litter of 2-3 kittens. After a year since their birth, they become independent of their mothers. The adults cats weigh eight pounds or less one can confuse them with a home kitten.
While it’s not yet been documented how long dune cats can survive in the wild; in captivity they can live up to thirteen years.
These cats as ferocious as they are can be kept as pets. Nevertheless, they need special care unlike other cats. They are highly susceptible to respiratory infections. It’s the major cause of death among adults sand cats. Thus, if you would like to own a sand cat you’ve to ask the cat-keepers or rearers how to take care of them or what things to factor in mind.
These cats are not afraid of snakes. They are part of their meal. They are snake hunter even hunting venomous vipers. They also hunt small reptiles, hares, spiders, rodents, birds, insects and hares.
Finally, these sand cats can run at a speed of 30-40km/hr.