Felis lybica tristrami also by Pocock in 1944 was a pale buffy white skin of an adult female wildcat from the PalestinianMoab area.
Felis lybica lowei, F. l. lynesi, F. l. foxi and F. l. brockmani also by Pocock in 1944 was a pale skin of an adult female wildcat from Marrah Mountains in the Darfur desert, a very pale skin of a male wildcat from north of Al-Fashir in Darfur, a dark skin of a male wildcat from Bauchi State in northern Nigeria, and a pale brown skin of a young adult male wildcat from the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia, respectively.
Felis silvestris gordoni by David Harrison in 1968 was a skull and a very pale grey brown striped skin of a female wildcat from west of Sohar in Oman.
Since 2017, three African wildcat subspecies are recognised as validtaxa:
Based on a mitochondrial DNA study of 979 domestic and wildcats from Europe, Asia, and Africa, the African wildcat is thought to have split off from the European wildcat about 173,000 years ago, with the North African/Near Eastern wildcat splitting from the Asiatic wildcat and the Southern African wildcat about 131,000 years ago. About 10,000 years ago, some African wildcats were tamed in the Fertile Crescent and are the ancestors of the domestic cat. Domestic cats are derived from at least five "Mitochondrial Eves". African wildcats were also domesticated in ancient Egypt. The Egyptian domestic cat lineage started spreading in the Mediterranean Basin from the 8th century BCE onwards and arrived on the Baltic Sea coast by the 5th century CE.
Phylogenetic relationships of the African wildcat as derived through analysis of
The fur of the African wildcat is light sandy grey, and sometimes with a pale yellow or reddish hue, but almost whitish on the belly and on the throat. The ears have small tufts, are reddish to grey, with long light yellow hairs around the pinna. The stripes around the face are dark ochre to black: two run horizontally on the cheek from the outer corner of the eye to the jaw, a smaller one from the inner corner of the eye to the rhinarium, and four to six across the throat. Two dark rings encircle the forelegs, and hind legs are striped. A dark stripe runs along the back, the flanks are lighter. Pale vertical stripes on the sides often dissolve into spots. Its tail has two to three rings towards the end with a black tip. Its feet are dark brown to black below.
It differs from the European wildcat by inconspicuous stripes on the nape and shoulders, a less sharply defined stripe across the spine and by the slender tail, which is cylindrical, less bushy and more tapering. Ears are normally tipped with a small tuft. Its fur is shorter than of the European wildcat, and it is considerably smaller.
Skins of male wildcats from Northern Africa measure 47–59.7 cm (18.5–23.5 in) in head-to-body length with a 26.7–36.8 cm (10.5–14.5 in) long tail. Skins of female wildcats measure 40.6–55.8 cm (16.0–22.0 in) with a 24.1–33.7 cm (9.5–13.3 in) long tail. Male wildcats from Yemen measure 46–57 cm (18–22 in) in head-to-body length with a 25–32 cm (9.8–12.6 in) long tail; females were slightly smaller measuring 50–51 cm (20–20 in) in head-to-body length with a 25–28 cm (9.8–11.0 in) long tail. Both females and males range in weight from 3.2–4.5 kg (7.1–9.9 lb).
The wild cat in Sardinia is of domestic cat origin.
The wild cat in Sardinia and Corsica was long considered to be an African wildcat subspecies with the scientific name Felis lybica sarda. Results of zooarchaeological research indicate that it descended from domestic cats that were introduced probably at the beginning of the first millennium and originated in the Near East. These populations are feral today.
African wildcats are active mainly by night and search for prey. Their hearing is so fine that they can locate prey precisely. They approach prey by patiently crawling forward and using vegetation to hide. They rarely drink water. They hunt primarily mice, rats, birds, reptiles, and insects.
When confronted, the African wildcat raises its hair to make itself seem larger in order to intimidate its opponent. In the daytime it usually hides in the bushes, although it is sometimes active on dark cloudy days. The territory of a male overlaps with that of up to three females.
In West Africa, the African wildcat preys on rats, mice, gerbils, hares, small to medium-sized birds, including francolins, and lizards. In Southern Africa, it also attacks antelope fawns and domestic stock, such as lambs and kids.
The female's gestation period lasts between 56 and 60 days. In Botswana, she gives birth mostly during the warm wet season to one to three kittens.Litters of up to five kittens were also observed. Her birthing den is a sheltered place like dense grass, a burrow or hollow tree. The kittens open their eyes after about 10–14 days and are mobile at the age of one month. At around three months of age, they start learning hunting techniques from their mother. They leave the family and become independent at the age of around six months.
Alley Cat Rescue is currently the only organization known to have a program specifically aimed at conserving African wildcats and reducing what some refer to as genetic pollution by domestic cats.
It has been discovered that a domestic cat can serve as a surrogate mother for wildcat embryos. The numerous similarities between the two species mean that an embryo of an African wildcat may be carried and borne by a domestic cat. A documentary by the BBC describes the details of the experiments that led to this discovery, and also shows a mature wildcat that was born by a surrogate female.
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^ abPocock, R. I. (1951). "Felis lybica, Forster". Catalogue of the Genus Felis. London: Trustees of the British Museum. pp. 50−133.
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^Herbst, M.; Mills, M. G. L. (2010). "The feeding habits of the Southern African wildcat, a facultative trophic specialist, in the southern Kalahari (Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa/Botswana)". Journal of Zoology. 280 (4): 403−413. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00679.x.