Wildcat Subspecies Overview

bieti

Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis silvestris bieti)

The Chinese Mountain cat is sandy yellow, warm greyish yellow, brownish, greyish-brown, or reddish grey, with distinct stripes only on the tail, a black tail tip, and very faint stripes everywhere else on its body, especially on its legs. They have small tufts on their ears, a stocky body, and a blunt-tipped, thick club-shaped tail. They sometimes have blue or complete heterochromic eyes. This subspecies used to be considered a different species, as the now invalid taxon, Felis bieti.

ornata

Central Asian Wildcat (Felis silvestris ornata)

The Central Asian Wildcat is sandy yellow, greyish yellow, or reddish, has distinct spots that sometimes fuse into stripes, and has a light, unspotted underside. They have small tufts on their ears, a moderately slender or slim body, and a rounded-tipped, thin rope-shaped tail. They sometimes have blue eyes. This subspecies lives near agricultural and cultivated areas and near human settlements. This subspecies was also heavily trapped for its pelt in the past.

cafra

Southern African Wildcat (Felis silvestris cafra)

Ecotypes: Kalahari Wildcat (griselda)

The Southern African Wildcat is faintly to distinctly striped with distinct leg and tail stripes and is either light cool grey (sort of reminiscent of the color of a cantaloupe) or tawny grey (a warmer shade). They have distinctly reddish backed ears, a very slender body, long legs, and a rounded-tipped, thin rope-shaped tail. The Kalahari variant is Sandy cream-grey or grey cream and has even fainter back stripes and even more distinct leg stripes, especially on the front legs. This subspecies is tamable and can be easily tamed as a kitten, but is not the subspecies that domesticated itself. This subspecies used to be lumped in with Near Eastern Wildcat and was called the African Wildcat.

lybica

Near Eastern Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica)

Ecotypes: Gordon’s Wildcat (gordoni) and Domestic Cat (catus)

The Near Eastern Wildcat is sandy grey, sandy yellow, tawny brown, brownish grey, greyish brown, or reddish and has visible, often indistinct stripes and spots or broken stripes with distinct leg and tail stripes. They have somewhat reddish or warm backed ears, a moderately slender or slim body, and a rounded-tipped, thin rope-shaped tail. Their dorsal stripe continues onto the tail. This subspecies is tamable, can be easily tamed as a kitten, has adapted to living in agricultural areas, near human settlements, and around humans, is less wary of humans, and is the subspecies that has domesticated itself. The Domestic cat, despite being considered its own subspecies, is part of this subspecies.

silvestris

European Wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris)

Ecotypes: Scottish Wildcat (grampia), Caucasian Wildcat (caucasica), and Spanish Wildcat (tartessia)

The European Wildcat, the nominate and original subspecies of wildcat, is greyish brown, brownish grey, brown, or reddish, has leg stripes, distinct, indistinct, or faint widely spaced back stripes, and has a ringed tail and black tail tip. They have a stocky or slim body and a blunt-tipped, thick club-shaped tail. They often have green or bluish green eyes. Their distinct dorsal stripe stops at the base of the tail. The critically endangered Scottish variant, which used to be considered a different subspecies, appears darker-furred, has more distinct stripes, and pencil stripes over its eyes that sort of look like eyebrows. This subspecies is very shy, very avoidant of humans and human influenced environments and is very difficult to tame, even as kittens. Also the Scottish variant is the one wildcat that infamously can’t become tame.

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