Sand cat range – where you can find this cat 2022

Sand cat burrow
Sand cat burrow. Photo:
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

This page has been updated on May 15, 2022. You need to do this with articles about the distribution of any animal because it changes. Below this section there is information about the distribution of the sand cat as at 2009. I have retained it as an archive and because it’s interesting to compare. The map immediately below is from the IUCN Red List. They are supposed to be the world’s experts on the conservation of species. They should have access to the most current information from various organisations in order to best assess where the sand cat lives in 2022. That doesn’t mean that you can walk out of your front door and into a sandy semi-desert area and see a sand cat. They will be very hard to spot. And the Red List assessments are dated 2014 😎. That’s as good as it gets!

Sand cat distribution 2022 according to the IUCN Red List
Sand cat distribution 2022 according to the IUCN Red List

Distribution by country

Extant (resident): Algeria; Chad; Egypt; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kuwait; Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Oman; Saudi Arabia; Sudan; Syrian Arab Republic; Turkmenistan; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Western Sahara.

Possibly Extinct: Israel; Pakistan; Yemen.

Presence Uncertain: Morocco; Qatar.


What is known is that this cat is the only felid found mainly in “true desert”. What is it like on the ground in the areas where it is found? The videos below give a nice feel for their habitat.

Their range includes areas that contain:

  • sparsely vegetated ridges in desert areas where gerbils are also found and
  • flat and open sandy ground with tufts of grass and sparse and small bushes

Just by way of speculation I wonder if the sand cat now occupies those parts of the Aral Sea that have become desert due to over use of water. Large parts of the sea have dried up leaving what appears to be perfect terrain for the sand cat:

Aral sea Uzbekistan
Aral sea Uzbekistan

Archived material

Sept. 2009 – The sand cat range or distribution is shown in the customised map below, which is based accurately on the most up to date one currently available, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List) map. The map can be scrolled horizontally or vertically or moved by dragging it inside the window by left clicking and moving the mouse. You can also zoom in and out using the controls. The range extends from Uzbekistan in the east to Western Sahara in the west and so cannot be viewed as a whole without zooming out.

The original of this map is a Google My Map. It can be found here: Sand Cat Range (opens in a new window).

Despite the Red List being probably the best map available there is a lot of uncertainty about its accuracy from the Red List team. You only have to read their description, “it is not clear…”, “no historical records…”, “it is supposed to occur”…etc. . There have been sightings in places such as Tunisia and Libya but no specimens collected (perhaps a good thing actually).

There clearly is little research going on and not much concern for this small wild cat. It’s protection is the remoteness and inhospitable nature of it habitat, which helps to keep people out.

Sand Cat
Sand Cat. Photo in public domain.

From Sand Cat Range to Wild Cat Species


  • Red List
  • Wild Cats Of The World – Sunquists

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