The Black-footed Cat (Felis nigries) is the smallest cat in Africa and the second smallest of all wild cats. It is endemic to the arid regions of southern Africa where it is naturally rare and occurs at low densities. These cats, despite their small size, can travel vast distances in search of sparse prey, and have special adaptations to cope with their semi-arid to arid environment.

Black-footed Cat Unique Facts

~ Second smallest of all wild cats ~

~ Requires no drinking water ~

~ Endemic to southern Africa  ~

Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) - Felis Lineage
Black Footed Cat (Felis nigripes)
By Ltshears (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) Classification

The taxonomy or scientific classification of the Black-footed Cat species (Felis nigripes) 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 nigripes (Black-footed Cat)

Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) Subspecies (lower classifications)

Two subspecies of Black-footed Cats have been recognized in the past:

1. Felis nigripes nigripes - northern range (lighter base color and markings)

2. Felis nigripes thomasi - southern range (darker base color and markings)

However the current Felidae taxonomy revision suggests that only the species Felis nigripes is valid and thus monotypic (no subspecies). There is insufficient variation to substantiate a subspecies split and just a northern and southern race is more appropriate.

Black-footed Cat Conservation and Research

The global conservation status for the Black-footed Cat is Vulnerable (VU) due to its restricted range in arid regions of southern Africa, where it is naturally rare and occurs at low densities.

The Black-footed Cat Working Group has a long term monitoring program in South Africa, assisted by funding from ISEC in Canada.

Black-footed Cat Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Black-footed Cats:

  • Black-footed Cat Images and Video Clips - ARKive
  • Black-footed Cat Fact Sheet - ISEC
Recommended Books about all Wild Cats
Wild Cats of the World - Luke Hunter
Luke Hunter 2015
(general and academic interest)
The Wild Cat Book - Sunquist
Fiona and Mel Sunquist 2014
(general interest)
Small Wild Cats - Sanderson and Watson
J. Sanderson & P. Watson 2011
(general interest)
Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids
D.Macdonald & A.Loveridge 2010
(academic interest)
Wild Cats of the World - Sunquist
Mel and Fiona Sunquist 2002
(general and academic interest)