Sand Cat - 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

Sand Cats belong to the genus Felis and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Sand Cat species is:

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)


F.m. margarita

F.m. thinobia


The scientific name for the Sand Cat is Felis margarita 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).

Sand cat pair © Yossi Eshbol /

Sand Cat (Felis margarita) Subspecies

Four subspecies of Sand Cats have been recognized in the past, however the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 proposed 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:

Sand Cat Sahara Team - Research Morocco

Arabian Sand Cat Programme - WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums)

Sahara Conservation Fund - Carnivores Niger

Species Conservation Fund - Sand Cat

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!

Juvenile Sand cat © Rod Williams / Auscape International

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

Sand Cat Facts and Information

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