African Golden Cat

African golden cat

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

African Golden Cat
Photo: © Gary P. Aronsen


The African golden cat is a small/medium sized wild cat of a variety of colors that lives in the band of forests of equatorial Africa that extend from the west coast of the African continent (Senegal and the Gambia) to the east coast (Kenya). There is a gap in this band at Benin and Nigeria. It is thought by the local people to follow the leopard around. Despite living in forests, it lives on the ground. This cat mainly feeds on small mammals and birds. Our knowledge of this secretive cat species is limited. It is threatened by commercial activity and deforestation.

Famous Camera Trap Photo of African Golden Cat
Famous Camera Trap Photo of African Golden Cat

The African golden cat also has the name “golden cat”. The scientific name is Caracal aurata indicating a close relationship with the Caracal (scientific name Caracal caracal ). It is also close to the Serval (Leptailurus serval).


This cat is about 31 inches long plus a tail of about 12 inches in length. The fur is cinnamon or reddish brown. The African golden cat resembles the Caracal. Local people think of this cat as fierce and that is follows the leopard. This belief has resulted in it being killed for its skin which is worn to provide good luck when hunting or to wrap valuables etc. (sad for the cat don’t you think?). The name of this cat is similar to the Asian counterpart, the Asian golden cat but there seems to be no connection. However, molecular data reveals that the Caracal Caracal caracal and the Serval Leptailurus serval are closely allied with this cat2.

This wild cat species is about twice the size of a large domestic cat1 weighing between 8 and 16 kg. (17.6 to 35.27 lbs – pounds). Perhaps the description “golden” is a little misleading as this cats color varies from marmalade orange to a sepia-grey. The coat can be spotted or not and it seems that the cats of western Africa tend to be spotted, whereas those from the east are unspotted. There appears to be two “distinct races”. Although this is not accepted by everyone. The coat color would appear to change based on observations of a captive animal.

The face of the African golden cat is round with a distinct muzzle. There are no stand out facial markings. The tail is short (indicating that this cat is not a specialist climber?…but this cat lives in all kinds of forest)

Photographs are rare. The one below is from Webshots and is the same picture that illustrates the description of this cat in Wild Cats of The World:

Below are photographs that are meant to be of the skins of this beautiful cat. The coats are spotted and although the photos of this cat appear to indicate a plain fur the color phases “may be spotted all over, unspotted or…in-between” (Wild Cats of The World):


This image is from the Wikimedia Commons file. User: Mickey Bohnacker, Presse-Fotograf, Frankfurt/Main. The scientific name in the photo is the previous, earlier name, now upgraded. Note: I am not sure that these skins are as stated however. I am investigating. – update: This cat can have spotted fur and accordingly they are probably of this cat and remain on the page as a reminder of the hideous trade in skins. As mentioned, the skins of the African Golden cat are also used by the local people in Cameroon (pygmy tribes as at 2002) for wrapping “valuable objects” and during “circumcision rites”1

Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo