The Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) 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.
Key Facts about Black-footed Cats
~ Second smallest of all cats ~
~ Requires little drinking water ~
~ Endemic to southern Africa ~
Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) Classification
Black-footed Cats belong to the genus Felis and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Black-footed Cat species 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)
Species: Felis nigripes (Black-footed Cat)
The scientific name for the Black-footed Cat is Felis nigripes 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).
Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) Subspecies
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 last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 suggested 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.
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Black-footed Cat Facts and Information
The following organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Black-footed Cats:
- Black-footed Cat Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Black-footed Cat Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Black-footed Cat Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group