Wild Cat Hybrid of Bahrain

This is a very interesting “domestic cat” from Bahrain. For people who are unsure, Bahrain is in the Middle East. It is an island with a causeway (King Fahd Causeway) linking it to the mainland and that means that a cat developing and evolving in Bahrain is likely to be purebred because there is less possibility of outside interference. The Manx is another, better known example.

The cat looks like a wild cat hybrid and has the voice of a wild cat hybrid but as far as I am aware we don’t know, for sure, the ancestry of this interesting cat that I have described as “semi-domestic”. I made a video and wrote about this cat about four years ago and would like to revisit the topic. I love to explore the domestic cats from parts of the world other than Europe and America.

I don’t know if the cat that you see in the video is a true domestic cat in the way people think of domestic cats in the West. I am not sure. It is hard to believe that she is a regular domestic cat.

She does not look like a conventional domestic cat. She looks too wild. She has a slender body (foreign in cat fancy parlance) and her voice sounds very like the voice of the well known Bengal cat, a leopard cat x domestic cat wild cat hybrid. The impression I get is she is either a regular visitor to the house, or possibly lives there and perhaps has had kittens there.

From a cat fancier’s standpoint the Bahraini Dilmun is an interesting cat. Firstly, this cat has a name. That indicates an established breed but at the date of this article this is not a registered cat breed, as far as I aware, and therefore strictly speaking is not a breed of cat. This cat breed’s “status” is similar to the Turkish Angora in Turkey, the real Turkish Angora.

The general appearance of this cat is slender as mentioned. This cat is smart and active. I have to state that this cat does have the appearance of a wild cat hybrid. The wild cats that could be the ancestors with this cat are the serval and jungle cat. Both were found in the region. Modern day assessments of the distribution of these wild cat species state that they are not present in the Middle East. See jungle cat range and serval range.

Although the Bahraini Dilmun appears to be a wild cat hybrid, this cat is evolving and cross-breeding with other cats in the region primarily random bred cats, I presume, which dilutes the purebred nature of the original cat.

The relationship between domestic cats and people varies considerably in different countries. At one extreme we have full-time indoor cats that are very passive, sleeping most of the time and at the other end of the spectrum we have a cat like the Bahraini Dilmun that lives outside far more and is less under the control of people.

“Dilmun” is an ancient land that is associated with the area of Bahrain. I don’t know who named this cat but they seem to be indicating in the name that this cat has a long history, which is reasonable.

I have to confess that I believe this cat lives a better life than domestic cats in the USA. As outdoor cats they are safer and they are not full-time indoor cats.

Note: the still picture on this page is by Kathrin Stucki and copyright protected.

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Wild Cat Hybrid of Bahrain — 12 Comments

  1. Hi Michael. I found the pic of the Bahraini Dilmun very fascinating. Since I have done some research into natural and wildcats of the Middle East perhaps I can add a few comments. The wildcat that would more likely fit the bill is the Felis s Gordoni, also called the Arabian Desert Cat. The Jungle Cat and Serval are not found the Gulf region but the Gordoni still is. I think it safe to say that not much information is available on the Gordoni, but the few available photos show they not very different from the British tabby. I have only ever seen one poor photo showing the Gordoni in the reddish colour. I have 3 cats identical to the Bahraini Dilmun. See photo of Nadir and Neda. Some describe the Gordoni as having the backs of their ears brown and I see on a couple of photos the nose is also brown. My Neda certainly has a brown nose and the backs of their ears are an orange-brown colour. Well they are orange brown coloured cats! Nadir’s LH’d sister Themba tested 97.92% Ankara kedisi (Genuine Turkish Angora), but what does this mean? It only means that she is from the Middle East/East Mediterranean. In that area you have a wide variety of climates varying from freezing mountains to arid scorching deserts, and cats will have developed different morphologies to suit. It would be nice to send a buccal swab to get that cat’s DNA identified. I also have a grey black tabby with very long legs and an athletic build like the Bahraini cat. It is simply an adaptation to a very hot climate but makes for a very striking-looking cat.

    • Great comment and very informative. Thanks Harvey. The Bahraini Dilmun has a naturally distinct appearance to other domestic cats. That is pretty special. That may have come about because it is a purebred due to island distribution forcing inbreeding. I am just speculating.

    • Excellent photograph, Harvey and beautiful cats again. Very similar to the Bahraini Dilmun. The hotter climates lead to slender cats. This is the same development as the Siberian tiger versus the Sumatran tiger. Colder = more bulk.

      The noticeable feature of the Bahraini Dilmun is the naturally slender, elegant conformation. Very noticeable.

    • It just occurred to me: you do realise that this is a video of the Bahraini Dilmun, don’t yo? You refer to the “pic” which is on the cover of the video. I hope you have watched the video.

    • Harvey all your cats are beautiful. They all look very strong and confident – I can only imagine they get to spend time outside whenever they want.

  2. Hi Michael. Here is a photo of my Yolanda. I sent a sample to UC Davis but received no result except that in L Lyons study she said there were several cats of an unknown type. I wonder if Yolanda was one of them. What kind of scientist passes up an opportunity to “discover” a previously unknown species or breed?? The mind boggles.

  3. I love the video and pix. There is certainly a wildcat look to this cat. I love the trill sound she makes. It makes me lonely for my Maine Coon! She looks to quite tall. Wonderful cats all.

    • The trill sound is a bit unusual. I heard the exact same sound in a cat show in the USA when I was looking at Bengal cats in their cage. She looks wild cat hybrid type to me but we don’t know for sure.

  4. Hi Michael. Yes I did watch the video which is useful in depicting the long narrow snout and slanted eyes. The Bahraini looks rather oriental I think and the coat colour is more of a buff colour than red/orange in line with Gordoni. But the Gordoni has a sturdier build and more rounded face. The numerous small spots are interesting and may be a clue. I will have some fun researching those spots. Notice the cheek stripes which join under the ears . I wonder if they then run under the throat. The Middle East tabbies mostly have that characteristic which I haven’t seen in European tabbies who’s cheek stripes only reach as far as under the ears or less and do not join together. One of my male tabbies has a discontinuous poorly defined dorsal stripe which i understand is typical of the wildcats
    There is recently recognised natural breed called the Arabian Mau.
    http://www.wcf-online.de/WCF-EN/swf/Arabian_Mau_en.swf
    However I do not see it is all that similar to the Bahraini.
    What do you think?

    • The spots are quite distinct and perhaps not unique but not the usual sort of tabby spotted coat. The featured cat int the pictures and slide show looks different to the Arabian cats. I wonder how much the “founder effect” (evolving on an island much like a reserve) has helped to generate this distinct appearance.

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