Cute Endangered Wild Cat Species

Time NewsFeed is currently presenting “The 15 Cutest Endangered Animals in the World” in photos. Two of them are small wild cat species, the sand cat and the Iberian lynx. The sand cats that are featured have ‘charmed the Internet’. I don’t see cats in captivity as charming. I see attractive wild cat species in captivity when they would be better off being in the wild. Maybe I am missing something.

Sand cat

Sand cat. Photo by Squezzyboy

I just felt compelled to complain about the title that is misconceived in my opinion. The words ‘cute’ and ‘endangered’ should not be in the same sentence in this way. The former is part of the internet fad of cute cat pictures and funny cat videos and that sort of stuff. It panders to people who don’t really respect the cat or animals. The latter is about serious science and profound issues that go to the heart of what we do on the planet for the future.

The Time article is cheapening serious issues. It really is another form of dumbing down. How dumb have we got to get? How endangered has a species got to be before something that works saves the species from extinction in the wild?

There are other things that are shallow and wrong about the Time article. They show sand kittens and Iberian lynx cubs all of which are in captivity. Wild cats do badly in captivity. A lot die young and are sterile. They are often inbred because the gene pool in narrow. This creates health problems. Not to mention the whole negativity of keeping wild cat species in cages. These animals have large ranges. The sand cat can travel about 6 kilometers per night when hunting in the wild. How does it feel to be in a cage 20×20 feet? Nothing cute about that for me.

Cats in captivity are a bad idea and a failure basically. Why don’t they write about these important issues rather than portray cats in captivity as fine and as a nice solution to the gradual extinction of wild cats in the wild? Cats in captivity are not a solution to the extinction of wild cat species in the wild.

Also the sand cat might be cute looking – this cat species looks like a domestic cat, and particularly a traditional Persian cat – but when bred in captivity they are more aggressive that wild caught animals. You can’t really be ‘cute’ and aggressive at the same time. And anyway what is the point in being extinct and cute?

Also there is nothing cute about the reasons behind the gradual extinction of these two small wild cat species. The Iberian lynx has been hunted in the past and its prey also hunted even when the cat is critically endangered. That is callous and stupid, not cute.

Another thing needs to be mentioned. The more attractive an animal is the more likely it is to be endangered because people like to possess parts of attractive animals (e.g. it skin) or possess the entire living animal as a pet (e.g. lynxs and ocelots). This is another reason why it is inappropriate to use ‘cute’ and ‘endangered’ in the same sentence unless making the sort of statement I have made.

YouTube does a lot of dumbing down too. There are piles of stupidly plain rude comments under sensationalistic videos. Serious and important videos just don’t succeed on YouTube. A classic example concerning cats is the short video of the female snow leopard with her cubs in a den. This is unique and of no interest to 99% of YouTube surfers.

Google does its share of dumbing down as well. It finds and ranks highly the most flimpsy of articles on serious subjects while good material is sometimes buried in the graveyard of unseen web pages.

Fortunately PoC does fairly well in getting noticed. But it takes effort. And it is like swimming upstream sometimes. It is time for people to get serious about serious matters and have fun and be lighthearted about appropriate things at appropriate times.

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Cute Endangered Wild Cat Species — 4 Comments

  1. I’ve only seen two pictures of Sandcats in the wild. Both taken by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan (maybe Iran).

    I agree with your sentiment with these stupid sites using animals to propagate their agenda. The worst offender I see everyday is People Pets. Enough said about this, you covered it thoroughly.

    I do want to make one point about cats kept in zoos. The Smithsonian National Zoo runs the United States re-propagation programs. The African Blackfooted kittens born in the last few years are a great example of our efforts to enlarge the breeding pool, learn to raise them to fear humans and hopefully, to someday re-introduce their distant offspring back into the wild where they belong. Luckily sperm and egg samples were taken as far back as the 1970’s (if memory serves). These now fresh breeding lines are being created. An egg and sperm were united in a petri dish and than placed in a domestic cats womb. The offspring was a female. She has a natural offenity to humans, unlike domestic kittens who do not. I know that some zoo’s do things so very wrong. But don’t count out these zoos, Universities and sancturaries that are working hard to keep these species from going extent.

    Sadly, it’s to late for some. The King Leopard is considered extinct. There are around 29 in captivity. There is no way way we can save them. They are sadly, the last of their kind. Persian Tigers and a few others have the same fate.

    I would, finally, like to point out, that China may have worked out a successful way to introduce animals back into the wild! The Wolong Reserve , which suffered that terrible earth quake a few years ago, is now home to the ‘semi-wild’ giant panda program. The first offspring have been born this very year that will never know human contact. It is hoped that they will be able to be set free someday and survive.

    I agree with all else you said, but some zoo’s are working to make our foolish past mistakes right.

  2. Michael,thanks for this excellent informative article.I am reading about the “Sand cat” for the first time and as you mentioned it does resemble a “Traditional Persian Cat” barring its unique colouration.Hope this species is re-introduced into the Wild, its natural habitat.Cats, both wild and domestic fare badly if confined into cages and i am saying this from personal experience of observing ” Caged pet shop cats”, “Zoo wild cats” and my own free roaming house cats.

    • Hi Rudolph. I am frustrated at the lack of real change in attitude towards the wild cat species. They are either ignored or abused one way or another. Their habitat, bit by bit, is being removed from the planet by the ever increasing activities of humankind in his headless rush for economic growth.

  3. The extinction of these beautiful and precious animals makes me bitter and depressed to no end. And of course angry. I can’t bring myself to even visit a zoo. It would depress me too much, even though Dan does have some good news about some zoos. Personally I think it is as Michael said. One must have the locals on their side to have any power over these issues. Which likely means one must basically pay them in cash for what they would have earned killing endangered animals. I think it’s the only way. There is a hell of alot of money in the world, and it just pisses me off that not much of it goes towards solving these problems in a directly effective manner. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I just want to cry about it.

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