What wild cats live in England?

None in the wild. There are no wild cats living in England in the wild (there is one at Chester zoo – see video – but is it purebred?). What is left of the Scottish wildcat in the wild (even if it exists at all) lives near the west coast of Scotland. The last wild cat in England was killed in 1835 as I recall. The cat was shot by an idiotic, rich landowner but in those days it was not considered stupid to hunt wild cats even if it was the last one.

The Brits did a nice job of killing wildlife in the 18th to 21st centuries wherever it was including India and Africa where thousands of tigers and lions were hunted. At one time, some 1,500 years ago, the Eurasian lynx inhabited Great Britain and therefore England. There are plans to reintroduce the lynx to the UK but it would have to be in thinly populated Scotland. Sadly that will not be possible for the Scottish wildcat because it is almost if not already extinct in the wild. There are some wildcats living in the wild but it is believed that they are hybrids and not purebred because of crossbreeding with outdoor domestic or feral cats.

Scottish wildcat

Scottish wildcat

Shame on the Brits for an almost total failure in conservation of our only wild cat species. And the reason latterly is because of free-roaming domestic cats and feral cats. From the perspective of wild cat conservation in the UK, you can blame domestic cat owners for the demise of this super-rare species. The initial reason for the current state of affairs was hunting. The wildcat was extensively hunted in England until there were none. What a failure.

Can you image an England with genuine wildcats in the forests and woods? It would be great but utterly unattainable now even if the wildcat was not nearly extinct because the country is too crowded and almost all UK cat owners let their cats free-roam outside. There would be crossbreeding as there is in Scotland. And then the farmers would object and probably shoot it. Arguably, in the 21st century England is too hostile for a wild cat species to exist unless they are in captivity. Perhaps that is a sign of things to come for the rest of the world. England has led the way in conservation failure. Sorry if that sounds too negative.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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