See cute wildcat kittens recently born in the wild in the Cairngorms

Wildlife conservationists have heralded the birth of wildcat kittens in Cairngorms National Park. You’ll see two cute kittens with their mother in the video. We are told they were born in the wild. It looks great and one needs to be positive but on a realistic note are these purebred Scottish wildcats with a perfect Scottish wildcat DNA profile or is there some hybridisation present? This issue is partly addressed in the statement below. It is still an excellent achievement to be thoroughly praised.

Two cute wildcat kittens born in the wild with their mom
Two cute wildcat kittens born in the wild with their mom. Image: Saving Wildcats (screenshot from video)
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

After the release of 19 wildcats last summer by the Saving Wildcats partnership, spearheaded by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, at least two females have successfully given birth in the wild. This event signifies a crucial step in the project’s aim to reintroduce the wildcat to Scotland, following its near-extinction status in 2018.

Dr. Keri Langridge, Saving Wildcats Field Manager, remarked:

“We suspected that some of the females had given birth when their movement and activity changed very suddenly but didn’t know for sure until footage of the kittens was captured on our cameras. With the support of local landowners, gamekeepers and the local community, our field team has successfully managed to monitor and film these kittens in the wild – which is no simple task. We have taken extreme care not to disturb the mother and kittens, and we carry out all monitoring work under licence from NatureScot. We didn’t dare to dream that we would have wildcat kittens in the first year of releases, and seeing those kittens on the video was the most exciting moment of the project so far.”

Dr Helen Senn, lead for Saving Wildcats, said:

“This is a major milestone for wildcat recovery in Scotland. These births demonstrate that the process of breeding wildcats for release into the wild is working, as those released animals have learned to hunt and survive – and now reproduce in their first breeding season, a clear indication that they are doing well.

“However, we have to bear in mind that life in the wild is hard and they will face may challenges. While the mortality rate for wildcat kittens in their first year of life can be high, we are hopeful for the future of these kittens.

“There is also the risk of interbreeding (hybridisation) between wildcats and domestic cats, despite our efforts to trap, neuter, vaccinate and release feral domestic cats in the local area. That’s why we always emphasise the important contribution to wildcat conservation that local people can make by ensuring their pet cats are neutered, as well as microchipped and vaccinated.  While we know from their GPS-radio collars that the two females that have given birth have overlapped with male wildcats, we do not yet know their paternity.

“Once the wildcats are old enough, we will attempt to get a DNA profile from them. We are hopeful that they are indeed the offspring of male wildcats that were released last year – and the first of many more to come.”

Please note that the above video from Twitter may stop working in due course when and if it is removed from Twitter.

They look very similar to the conventional domestic tabby cat. This is one issue. Visually the Scottish wildcat does indeed look similar to the mackerel tabby particularly the hybrid version. The purebred wildcat looks stockier and more robust with dense markings on their tail. They look different. A little larger perhaps than a standard tabby moggie. These cats in the video, on first glance, look like F1 hybrids. But let’s wait and see what the experts testing them come up with in due course.

Read a related post: Making the Scottish wildcat purebred again by de-introgression (infographic)

2 thoughts on “See cute wildcat kittens recently born in the wild in the Cairngorms”

    • Yep, they look like wildcats but a little sort of watered down if you know what I mean. I wonder if there are any purebred Scottish wildcats left at all. Anyway technically they are European wildcats. Scotland just likes to claim them as their own.


Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo