Arabian Wildcat, Felis Sylvestris Tristami


The crew of the Ulysses adopted the Arabian Wildcat, courtesy of The Living Desert endangered species program, in March, 2001.



Arabian Wildcat, Felis Sylvestris Tristami

What does it look like?

Wildcats are somewhat larger and more robust than their cousins, the domestic cat. Tabby-like lines mark their faces and vertical stripes extend from their backs to bellies. Fur color varies from a grayish tan to iron or silver, depending on the habitat wildcats occupy.

The Arabian Wildcat crouching in a tree.
Other characteristics:

  1. Females generally have paler markings than males.
  2. Their black-striped tails are bushy with rounded ends.
  3. Distinguished from the large cats, small cats such as wildcats cannot roar because of an ossified bone in the vocal apparatus.
  4. They possess a hairless strip along the front of the nose.
  5. Small cats rest with their forepaws tucked beneath their body and the tail wrapped round them.
  6. Big cats rest with their paws in front and tails extended straight behind.
  7. Small cats feed in a crouched position whereas big cats lie down to feed.
The Arabian Wildcat and its environment.

Where in the world?

Wildcat populations have been found in Egypt, Palestine and Europe, particularly in such mountainous regions as the Balkans. The vast ranges of color and skull analysis have established that domestic cats’ pedigrees derived from wildcat populations in Egypt from as early as 600-200 BC.


What does it eat?

Wildcats become active at dusk hunting small mammals such as hares and rodents, birds, lizards and insects. Their basic hunting technique of stalking was perfected in dense habitats where prey was scarce and territories defined. Where prey is abundant, cats often live in groups to defend and exploit food resources.


What are some characteristics and behavior?

During the day, wildcats are tucked away in rocky crevices, trees or underground burrow. Sometimes they are active during the day if it is cool and cloudy.

Wildcats are good climbers and escape predators by climbing trees. When defending their territory or confronting a predator, they arch their backs, raise their hair, and strike with extended claws, behaviors their domestic cousins inherited.


What about offspring?

Once a year, after a gestation of about 63-69 days, females give birth to a litter size of three to six kittens in rocks or tree hollows.

Is it threatened or endangered?

The most serious threat to small cats is the fur trade which, despite adverse opinion, continues to demand large numbers of spotted cat skins.


During our away mission to The Living Desert in March, 2001, we were most fortunate to see two Arabian Wildcats in their habitats. One of them was sitting in the sun, grooming himself and put on quite a display of cleanliness. He didn’t care that we were oohing and ahhing over him (or her). The other was simply sitting and watching the groomer.
A yawning mountain lion at The Living Desert Botanical and Wildlife Gardens.
A mountain lion licking his lips.
After visiting the wildcats, we had a chance to walk through a good deal of the park and were particularly wowed by the Mountain Lion display. Two of them were sitting near the glass portion of their enclosure, when one of them walked directly towards our Captain and growled. It was magnificent to look at and Juanita fell in love. Our Captain now wants to try to raise enough funds to adopt one in March 2002 when this adoption runs out.

Commander Gengo

Officially, the Ulysses received a certificate of adoption for the Arabian Wildcat, valid from March 2001 to March 2002. The ship is essentially contributing to the species, not an individual cat, but we’ve decided to name our “collective child,” Russypoo, after our esteemed IFT President, Russ Haslage (evil grin).
In addition to the certificate, the Ulysses’ name is also on the public notice board displayed in the entrance to The Living Desert where all the names of adoptive parents are listed. Briefly, we would like to stress that, although the Arabian Wildcat is small and resembles the domestic housecat, they are not meant to be kept as pets, no matter how “cute” they appear to be. They are a truly wild and endangered species. Thank you for visiting!

Information on the Arabian Wildcat and pictures are courtesy of The Living Desert website.