Felis nigripes

black-footed cat

Felis nigripes

black-footed cat

When comparing the black-footed cat with all wild cats, it is the second smallest cat in the world. However, this does not stop it from holding the title of the most deadly cat in the world. The effectiveness of hunting of this infernal fluffy ball is up to 60%, while that of lions only 20%. It kills 10-14 small birds, rodents and reptiles during the night, but it’s capable of taking down even a hare.


The appearance of black-footed cats is not different from domestic ones. Their characteristic features are black paws and pads and a fawn-brown body with a pattern of stripes and dots. Its flagship black fur on paws is dense enough to protect it from burning sand. The only non-standard aspect of this cat’s appearance, but a very impressive one, are the pupils that glow blue.

As with most cats, of course, this only happens in the dark. However, it does not take away, but adds a bit of dim charm. Black stripes trace down from their eyes, looking like traces of tears, just like on cheetah’s face. However, the black-footed cat is merciless for its victims.


The black-footed cat prefers savannas and other similar places with rare vegetation. Rapid metabolism requires that the black-footed cat hunts more than once per hour. This amazing hunter rests during the day, but at night it almost constantly looks for prey. It often follows its victims or awaits the emergence of a rodent at the entrance to its den. The black-footed cat is a great jumper and can catch birds in flight. It also hides larger prey for later.

The black-footed cat has adapted well to the dry tropical climate as it does not need access to running water. It gets the necessary liquids from victims, where its nickname of the vampire cat came from.

This cat likes to hide in abandoned dens of other animals, as well as in termite mounds. This habit gave it the nickname of anthill tiger. The last part of this name is also adequate, because the black-footed cat is known for its ferocious demeanour and the soul of a great warrior stuck in a small body.

What’s special is that both sexes mark the area with urine. This behaviour intensifies during the mating season, which lasts from July to March. Cats are born blind, but after about 7 days they open their eyes. Cat mom begins to teach them to hunt around the fifth week of life, and learning takes them a few more days. They can fully feed themselves, however, about the fifth month of life. They do not leave their mother’s territory at once – each kitten does it in its own time to eventually lead a solitary life.


You can meet it in the savannas of southern Africa, where it is the smallest representative of the family of felids. It is vulnerable to extinction and its population is decreasing. It occurs on the smallest tract of land in comparison with other cats in Africa, and the density of its occurrence is estimated at 0.06/km2 (0.15/mi2).

The greatest threat to it is the degradation of land and the extermination of its victims with poison. The black-footed cat also gets ricocheted revenge because it is visually similar to an African wildcat cat which likes to hunt small farm animals. Farmers set mortal traps for it, in which also black-footed cats die. It is also a victim of people trying to kill jackals with poisoned carcasses that deluded cats consume.

Sadly, the bodies of these cats are desired by taxidermists, and over-exploitation of pastures by farm animals threatens the cat’s victims’ populations and, as a result, also themselves. The black-footed cat is also not immune to diseases transmitted by domestic animals with which it can be easily mistaken. Natural hazards also include a large group of predators that hunt for it. These are dogs, caracals, owls, snakes and jackals.

Source of picture: https://fossilrim.org/animals/black-footed-cat/

Author: Małgorzata Banaszkiewicz

sand cat
Felis margarita
Leopardus wiedii
Panthera pardus


Support our cause

If you want to help us save endangered species of cats, you can make a donation. Set the amount you pay in the name of protecting these beautiful animals. As a thank you for a donation of minimum PLN 10 you will receive from us a code entitling you to download one of the many wallpapers for your computer and phone.

Support SWCF