If you are up to scratch on your wild cat species, you might have heard of this trio. Two are small, about the size of a domestic cat, while the third is medium-sized.
The video comes from San Diego Zoo. The lady who provides the voice-over has, I think, made quite a nice selection because these three wild cat species do indeed have particular characteristics and skills.
The fierce black-footed cat
As she says, the black-footed cat looks like a fairly conventional tabby cat except that it is the world’s deadliest killer! I’m probably exaggerating slightly but they do have the best success rate in terms of attempts to kill prey and succeeding in doing so, of all the wild cat species. They are very determined and committed hunters. They travel long distances in order to achieve their goals.
Black-footed cats are said to be “astoundingly active and successful hunters, making roughly one hunting attempt every thirty minutes, with a sixty-percent success rate”. That quote comes from the renowned reference work on the wild cats, Wild Cats of the World, by Mel and Fiona Sunquist.
They go on to say that “One male was seen to catch twelve rodents in three and a half hours”. I wish the domestic cat was as good as a pest controller! Typically, they kill a bird or mammal every 50 minutes. I have a page on their hunting prowess which you might want to read about by clicking on this link.
The pretty sand cat
The sand cat looks incredibly cute which I think is why the lady who commentates has selected this diminutive and attractive small wild cat species. But don’t be fooled by their cuteness. They are top level predators and don’t make good pets (people ask about this all the time). They have big ears in order to pick up sound over a long range. They are sand coloured because they are the only true desert cat. They live in the burrows made by other animals. They come out at night and hide up during the super-hot day.
They have to cope with extraordinary temperature variations. They don’t need to drink to get their water. They get it from their prey animals. Although if it is available, they will drink it. They can eat prodigious amounts of food when it’s available. Their anatomy has been modified through evolution to detect prey through sound by having enlarged to tympanic bullae. They rely on their hearing more than any other cat probably. And their low-set ears enable them to take advantage of scant cover in the desert environment.
The athletic caracal
Lastly, the caracal is the wild cat species which originated the phrase “to put the cat among the pigeons”. This is because in the old days the rich would take tame caracals out into the desert to hunt for human entertainment. And they would see how many pigeons a caracal could kill in one event. They placed a caracal among the pigeons. Caracals are known to catch birds as they take off and take flight.
As the lady says they can jump about 10 feet into the air from a standing start. On my calculation they are the world’s best and most talented cat species in terms of jumping vertically. They achieve this through long levers i.e. long hind limbs with lots of leverage and a very compact and muscular body. They have a range of sounds a bit like those of a domestic cat only the production of those sounds are stronger and more vigorous!
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