Wikijunior:Big Cats/Wildcat

The European Wild Cat looks much like a domestic cat

Wild cats, which still roam the wilds, are the ancestors of the domestic cats that live in our homes. There are three different types: the European, African (or Desert), and Asiatic Wild Cat (sometimes called Asian Steppe Wild Cat or Indian Desert Cat).

Where do wildcats live?


The European Wild Cat lives in forests of Western, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in Scotland and Turkey; it is not found in Scandinavia, Iceland, England, Wales, or Ireland. The African Wild Cat is found in deserts and savannas of Africa and the Arabian peninsula. The Asiatic Wild Cat primarily inhabits the scrub desert of Central Asia. It is commonly believed that African wild cats were domesticated by the Egyptians and are the original domestic cats. These mated with European wild cats as they were traded by their owners to the rest of the world.

What do wild cats look like?


The European Wild Cat is much bigger than the Asian or African wild cats or domestic cats. The thick fur and the size are a distinguishing mark, so that a Wild Cat normally should not be mistaken for a domestic cat. The African Wild Cat has shorter fur. The Asiatic Wild Cat has distinct small black or red-brown spots.

What do wild cats eat, and how do they catch their prey?


Their diet consists mainly of rodents, rabbits, hares and other small mammals, but it is likely that small birds are also eaten when the opportunity comes along.

Fun facts


See how much you know about the wild cat:

  • There is evidence of the domestication of the African wild cat as early as 7500 BC. Domestication of the cat may have begun as early as 8000 BC.
  • The Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats as gods. Cats seem to have never forgotten this.

For more information


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