Where does the African golden cat live?

I will answer the question from two perspectives: the geographic location including the countries and what the landscape is like in those places.

African golden cat
African golden cat. Photo: Johannes Pfleiderer.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

As at 2014 (the most recent data that we have on the distribution of the African golden cat) we know that it is extant (resident and living) in the following countries:

Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

This cat species may be present in the following countries:

Benin, Burundi, Gambia, Guinea-Bassau, can you, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan and Togo.

Distribution of African golden cat
Distribution of African golden cat. Map courtesy IUCN Red List.

The cat is listed as vulnerable in these countries. It is vulnerable because it is a forest-dependent species of wild cat restricted to equatorial Africa where there is high deforestation and where bush meat hunting is causing a substantial reduction of prey (e.g. blue duiker and dwarf antelope) and the cat itself, as I understand it. Also, forests are being cleared for oil palm plantations and there are other reasons for the gradual endangerment of this rare wild cat species.

The sort of landscape that it likes to live in, as mentioned, is forests. It is found in the tropical forest regions of Senegal, Sierra Leone and Liberia and in the Congo, Uganda and Kenya.

African Golden Cat Facts For kids
African Golden Cat Facts For kids. Credits: Photos (2) of African golden cat by Panthera Cats on Flickr. Swamp rat by Chugy (Flickr). Picture of tropical forest in Gabon (part of this cat’s habitat) by carlosoliveirareis.

It is believed that this cat species is able to live in a wide range of forest types including primary forest, recently logged forest with dense undergrowth, riverine forest where there are watercourses that go into more open habitat. It is also happy to live in montane forest alpine moorland and bamboo forest at elevations of between 2000 and 3000 m. Typically it is found in forests with dense undergrowth along rivers.

The anatomy of the cat indicates that it is primarily a terrestrial hunter. This is because of its stocky build and rather short tail. They appear to be mainly crepuscular and nocturnal. This means that they hunt mainly at dawn and dusk and during the night.

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

Local people sometimes refer to this cat as the “boy of the leopard” or “the leopard’s brother” because they believe that it follows leopards. They believe it to be very fierce and they fear it. It is subject to tribal superstition. At one time and it may still be present, in Cameroon, pygmy tribes carried the cat’s tail to bring them good fortune when hunting elephants. There was a time when African golden cat skins were used locally during circumcision rights or to wrap valuable objects.

African golden cat attacks monkey in Uganda
African golden cat attacks monkey in Uganda

The cat is about twice the size of a large domestic cat. It is a robust animal and it weighs between 8 to 16 kg. The male cats are larger than the females, as usual. The cat is seen in many different colours and its fur varies from “marmalade orange to sepia-grey”. The coat might be spotted all over or unspotted or somewhere in between these two.

African Golden Cat

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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