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

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 ~

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)

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)

Ten Wild Cats of Africa
Ten Wild Cats of Africa by Wild Cat Family
View full size poster ~ Download A4 pdf

Male Black footed Cat (Felis nigripes) © Dr Alexander Sliwa

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 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 (Felis nigripes) with kittens by Kenneth W Fink

Black-footed Cats (Felis nigripes) at den by Hayden Oake

Black-footed Cat Facts and Information

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