African & Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica)
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 African-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.

(To avoid confusion with the general term 'wild cat', we use the spelling 'wildcat' to refer to this particular species.)
Key Facts about African-Asiatic Wildcats

~ Ancestor of the domestic cat ~

~ Interbreeds with domestic cats ~

~ Multi-continent - Africa & Asia ~

Felis Lineage

1. Jungle Cat (Felis chaus)

2. Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti)

3. European Wildcat (Felis silvestris)

4. African & Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica)

5. Sand Cat (Felis margarita)

6. Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes)

African-Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica) Classification

The taxonomy or scientific classification of the African-Asiatic Wildcat species (Felis lybica) is as follows:

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 (African-Asiatic Wildcat)

African Wildcat (Felis lybica)

African-Asiatic Wildcat (Felis lybica) Subspecies

Many subspecies have been recognized in the past, however the current Felidae taxonomy revision 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)

African-Asiatic Wildcat Conservation and Research

The global conservation status for the Wildcat is Least Concern (LC) due to the wide range and estimated numbers. This includes all the Wildcats - African, Asiatic and European. Separate assessments according to the recent reclassification will be conducted in due course.

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

African Wildcat (Felis lybica cafra)

African wildcat (Felis lybica)

African-Asiatic Wildcat Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Wildcats. Most group all three of the Wildcats together - African, Asiatic and European and the taxonomy may differ to that used here.

  • Wildcat Conservation Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List