Scottish Wildcat

scottish wildcat
Scottish Wildcat in defensive mode © Nick Lawes

As the domestic cat is a direct decendent of the wildcat it is interesting to have a look at this animal to see how much the cat has changed from the days, some 10,000 years ago when all small cats were wild cats.

The Scottish Wildcat is still roaming around the hills and landscape of Scotland. There are, unhappily, only about 400 left and some of these will be be hybrid cats as the wildcat is likely to have mated with local domestic cats diluting those pure wildcat genes. Some of the hybrids are black wildcats called Kellas Cats after the village where they were first seen.

As a cat she is remarkably similar to the domestic cat. Although you can see the wild element in her in the photograph. There is that little bit of extra agression that is noticeable, an essential quality if you are surviving in the wild.

Scientists are able to tell if this cat is a hybrid (the result of a mating with a domestic cat) or purebred through analysis of a genetic marker and coat markings.  They are, therefore able to breed this cat in captivity and re-introduce her to the wild. This is planned.

scottish wildcat
Photograph © Keith Marshall

Her physical attributes are similar to the domestic cat. She is like a large well musculed British or American Shorthair tabby cat at the very top end of the domestic cat weight. 

Males weigh between 13-17 lbs. These are very similar figures to the Maine Coon, a large domestic cat. The Savannah F1 and F2 is also a very large domestic cat and could be bigger on average than the Scottish Wildcat.

The appearance of this cat’s face is more thick set and rugged, however. The domestic cat does all the things a SW does once she has walked through the catflap and tranformed herself from a domestic cat to a wildcat.

The Wildcat is solitary whereas the domestic cat, in her domestication, has adapted to living with other animals (humans and cats) in close proximity a testament to the cat’s adaptability.

This wildcat lives on animals such as rabbits. They are able to fish as well. The wild/domestic hybrids (such as the Bengal and Chausie) are know to like water unlike the “old-fashioned” domestic cat who tends to dislike water.

You can see the domestic cat in this lovely wildcat. There is an update on this posting, click here to see it.

Sources:
The Scottish Wildcat Association

From Scottish Wildcat to Cat Facts


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