Monday 3 October 2011

African Golden Cat Description

Sightings of this elusive wild cat are rare, which is why there are so few photographs of it. There is one that is circulating in books and on internet. Here is a nice video however (sometimes they get pulled):

This cat weighs from 8 to 16 kilograms or 18 to 35 pounds (lbs), which is about mid-range for all wildcat species. This is about twice the size of a good sized domestic cat. Males are larger than females. This is perhaps the only wild cat that can have a coat that is either unspotted or spotted. There is a spectrum in between. It is thought that the cats found in the western regions: Guinea-Bissau to Ghana are heavily spotted while those in the east, Uganda and Kenya, are more likely to be unspotted. The coat can change color too.

Spotted African golden cat skins. Photo Wikimedia Commons

The coat is obviously of a golden color but perhaps more accurately described as being orange to sepia-gray. In one survey of 186 pelts it was found that 46% were gray, 50% were red phase and 4% melanistic (Van Mensch and Van Bree 1969). This forms the background color in spotted individuals.

Typical of wildcats the undersides are white or off-white. The belly has dark spots.

The African golden cat has a broad face with a solid muzzle The ears are medium in size with black backed ear flaps. The tail is short at about one third the length of the body and head combined.

The head like the body can be unmarked except for white patches of fur on the inside of each eye and around the mouth and on the cheeks, or it can patterned with stripes and spots.

The fur from the top of the head to the shoulders points forwards. There are melanistic African golden cats.

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