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.

Sand Cat (Felis margarita) Unique Facts

~ Occupies true desert habitat ~

~ Large triangular ears and thick furred foot pads ~

~ Multi continent range - Africa and Asia  ~

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
Image Source

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 (Felis margarita) Subspecies (lower classifications)

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.

Four subspecies have been recognized in the past, however the latest taxonomic 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)

References:

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. <www.iucnredlist.org> Felis margarita. 23 May 2017.
  • Kitchener et al. 2017. A revised taxonomy of the Felidae. The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN / SSC Cat Specialist Group.

 

Sand Cat (Felis margarita) Conservation and Research

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

 

Sand Cat (Felis margarita) Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Chinese Mountain Cats (note this species is sometimes described as a subspecies of the wildcat ie Felis silvestris bieti):

  • Sand Cat Images and Videos - ARKive
  • Sand 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)