Sand Cat (Felis margarita) - Felis Lineage
Persian Sand Cat (Felis margarita thinobia)
By Payman sazesh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Sand Cat (Felis margarita) is one of the few wild cat species occurring in very dry desert habitat. Large ears and thickly furred pads are special adaptations that allow the cat to detect underground prey and survive in extreme conditions. Due to the remote, harsh terrains of its habitat, limited research has been conducted and populations and actual ranges are mostly based on estimates.

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)

Key Facts about Sand Cats

~ Occupies true desert ~

~ Large ears & furred pads ~

~ Multi-continent - Africa & Asia ~

Sand Cat (Felis margarita) Classification

The taxonomy or scientific classification of the Sand Cat species (Felis margarita) 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 margarita (Sand Cat)

Sand cat pair © Yossi Eshbol /

Sand Cat (Felis margarita) Subspecies

Four subspecies of Sand Cats have been recognized in the past, however the current Felidae taxonomy revision proposes two subspecies, pending further research:

1. Felis margarita margarita - North Africa (smaller with yellowish fur and bold markings)

2. Felis margarita thinobia - Southwest Asia and Arabian Peninsula (larger with greyer fur and less markings)

Sand Cat Conservation and Research

The global conservation status for the Sand Cat is Least Concern (LC) due to the wide range and estimated numbers, however it is not abundant anywhere and occurs naturally at low densities.

The following organizations are involved with Sand Cat conservation and research, either regarding the species directly or indirectly via programs within its specific desert habitat:

  • Arabian Sand Cat Conservation and Research Programme - WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums)
  • Sahara Conservation Fund - Carnivores Niger
  • Species Conservation Fund - Sand Cat

Juvenile Sand cat © Rod Williams / Auscape International

Sand cat feeding on viper © Alain Dragesco-Joffe / Animals Animals

Sand Cat Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Sand Cats: