African-Asian Wildcat - Felis Lineage
African Wild Cat By Leon Emanuel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The widespread and common ancestor of domestic cats, the Wildcat, has recently been categorized into two species (Kitchener et al. 2017). The first groups the bush and steppe cats of Africa and Asia (Felis lybica), previously known as the African Wildcat and the Asian or Asiatic Wildcat, into one species now called the Afro-Asiatic Wildcat. The second groups the forest cats of Europe (Felis silvestris), now called the European Wildcat.

All the Wildcat species can interbreed with domestic cats and unfortunately hybridization is becoming a serious threat to purebred Wildcat populations.

Nov 2022: Common name change from African-Asiatic Wildcat to Afro-Asiatic Wildcat.
(To avoid confusion with the general term 'wild cat', we use the spelling 'wildcat' to refer to this particular species.)
Felis Lineage

1. Jungle Cat (Felis chaus)

2. Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti)

3. European Wildcat (Felis silvestris)

4. Afro-Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica)

5. Sand Cat (Felis margarita)

6. Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes)

Key Facts about Afro-Asiatic Wildcats

~ Ancestor of the domestic cat ~

~ Interbreeds with domestic cats ~

~ Multi-continent - Africa & Asia ~

Afro-Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica) Classification

Afro-Asiatic Wildcats belong to the genus Felis and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Afro-Asiatic Wildcat species is:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)

Genus: Felis

Species: Felis lybica (Afro-Asiatic Wildcat)


F.l. lybica

F.l. cafra

F.l. ornata


The scientific name for the Afro-Asiatic Wildcat is Felis lybica which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

African-Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica) Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.

Afro-Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica) Subspecies

Many subspecies have been recognized in the past, however the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 proposes three subspecies of Wildcats within Africa and Asia:

1. Felis lybica lybica - East, West and North Africa, Arabian Peninsular, Middle East; islands of Corsica, Sardinia and Crete

(light coloration with reddish spots, pale yellow ears and whitish face)

2. Felis lybica cafra - Southern Africa

(reddish body and ears with transverse stripes)

3. Felis lybica ornata - South-west and Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Mongolia and China

(light coloration with irregular black or brown spots)

Afro-Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica) Research

Here is a list of papers published on African and Asiatic / Asian Wildcats. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

View more articles on Felis lybica in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database (scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list).

Consider joining the Friends of the Cat Specialist Group to access the full articles and receive their journal Cat News covering the latest wild cat research.

Afro-Asiatic Wildcat Conservation

The global conservation status for the Wildcat is Least Concern (LC) due to the wide range and estimated numbers.

The previous assessment included all the Wildcats - African, Asiatic and European.

Afro-Asiatic Wildcats are common and widespread and there are no specific conservation projects for these cats; research has mostly been on the European Wildcat.

Afro-Asiatic Wildcat Facts and Information

The following organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Afro-Asiatic Wildcats.

Some websites still group all three of the Wildcats together - African, Asiatic and European.

If you find this website useful, please consider a small contribution of $5 so I can continue to keep it updated. Thank you, Mandy 🙂

African wildcat (Felis lybica)