Wildcat stalking on edge of a pine forest


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

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • European wild cat,
  • Wild-cat

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Map showing the distribution of the Wildcat taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Wildcat can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Mediterranean, Russia, United Kingdom. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


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.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Decreasing

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

BBC News about Wildcat

See all Wildcat news stories

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