We know that the Scottish wildcat is either already extinct or heading towards extinction in the wild and in captivity because purebred Scottish wildcats have been mating with domestic and stray or feral cats particularly over the past 60 years creating hybrids which are half purebred Scottish wildcat and half domestic cats. They look quite like the purebred version but are not quite the same.
This brief post might shed some light on how this hybridisation takes place. A study published in 2008 looked at the way the lives of Scottish wildcats overlap with those of stray domestic and feral cats. They looked at the overlap in terms of time (temporal) and space (spatial). So, the title is about the spacio-temporal sharing of the wildcat and the domestic cat.
And they found that there was no great overlap in terms of space and time between these two species of cat. This doesn’t surprise me because the Scottish wildcat lives in the wilds whereas the stray or wandering domestic cat lives around settlements.
But what they decided was that either the stray cat or the Scottish wildcat made “rare excursions” outside their normal home ranges to a point where they met up and were able to mate.
For me, this begs the question as to whether the Scottish wildcat was looking for a mate, couldn’t find one in the wild and therefore came down to settlements to find a mate to procreate. It’s instinctive and therefore if there are very few cats of their race in the wild which is the way it is then they may have to go further afield and break out of their home range which is what the study suggests.
The study also suggests that once a hybrid has been created through this crossbreeding, they may share the home ranges of both the stray domestic cat and the wildcat. The hybrids may form a kind of bridge between these two species which may further exacerbate the crossbreeding and hybridisation.
Link to the study referred to: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2008.00479.x Title: Spatio-temporal sharing between the European wildcat, the domestic cat and their hybrids.
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