This is a page on sand cat facts written for children. Adults who like to read plain English and see a nice picture might like to read the page too. Visitors are free to use the material on this page if they wish.
The sand cat is a cute looking wild cat that is about the same size as a domestic cat. It weighs about seven and a half pounds (3.4 kilograms). It actually looks like a pretty domestic cat but definitely is not. It behaves and sounds like a wild cat. But it can be quite friendly towards people sometimes. Some people tame them but this is a timid cat and prefers to live in the wild desert where it feels at home.
The sand cat is the only cat that truly likes to live in a desert. This cat has got used to it and does things that makes it easier to live is such a difficult place. The sand cat lives in sandy desert where there are some bushes and perhaps some grass. It lives in temperatures that can be higher than 40°C (Celsius), which is 104°F (Fahrenheit).
Making Life Easier in the Desert
This cat’s sand colored coat makes it hard to see against the sand and dry bushes. This protects the cat. Also, it has great hearing from its large ears. Not only can you actually see large ears (“ear flaps” or “pinnae”) the way they work is very clever. The ears allow this cat to hear so well that it can pick up the vibrations of animals on the ground that it needs to hunt to live. It has thick fur on its paws so that it can walk on very hot sand without getting burnt. Sand cats in zoos don’t need this fur on the paws.
Walking and Running
The sand cat moves around the desert is a strange way. It stays close to the ground when walking. This is probably because it feels safer when moving low down as there are so few things to hide behind. Even though it moves in this slightly strange way it can run very fast when it needs to. The sand cat can run at up to 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour) over about 400 yards (about 400 meters).
Drinking and Not Drinking
Perhaps the most important thing about the sand cat is that it does not need to drink water to live. It gets almost all the water it needs from the animals that it kills and eats. All animals are made of lots of water and that includes people. So for most of the year it does not drink water as there is none in the desert. When sand cats are in zoos they will drink water.
The sand cat hunts animals to eat (“prey”) at night when it is cooler. It starts to hunt when it gets dark and works all night until dawn. Sometimes this cat will travel about 10 kilometers in a night which is over 6 miles.
The sand cat eats small animals like gerbils, hamsters, lizards and birds. Sand cats like their food! One amazing sand cat fact is that a sand cat in a zoo ate 15 mice in one go, one after another. The amazing thing is that the cat would have eaten more if he had been given more mice! That cat should be in the Guinness Book of World Records.
This sweet looking wild cat digs holes in the desert to live in. If it does not want to dig a hole or can’t do it, it will use a burrow made by another animal such as a fox or a porcupine.
The sand cat makes sounds like a domestic cat such as spitting and growling. When it spits it is much more noisy and a different sort of spit to a domestic cat. It is a more aggressive spitting sound. It also makes other sounds that are completely different to the sounds of a domestic cat. The sand cat barks like dogs!
Mother sand cats normally have three kittens when giving birth. They are pregnant for 63 days. A kitten becomes a real adult and starts to live free of his mother when he is one year old.
Living in Zoos
Sand cats hate living in zoos. They become ill and die young.
Living in the Desert
People don’t know how many sand cats there are in the desert. Also they don’t know for sure whether the number of sand cats is getting bigger or smaller. We need to know more about this cat but perhaps it is best to just leave them alone in the wild desert. The desert protects them from humans.