One of the ancestors of our pet cats, wildcats are thought to be the most abundant cat species across their range, which stretches from Western Europe to India. They are very rare in the UK however, with fewer than 400 remaining in the Scottish Highlands. Human encroachment on their habitat and interbreeding with domestic cats has reduced numbers and replaced the pure genetic line. Thousands of wildcats were killed as pests by farmers and gamekeepers in the 1800s and 1900s. Wildcats feed mainly on rodents, but also hunt other larger mammals, birds, lizards, frogs and fish. They sometimes scavenge and cache prey, returning to it later.
Scientific name: Felis silvestris
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The following habitats are found across the Wildcat distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Decreasing
Year assessed: 2008
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
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