Kaffir Cat — The African Wildcat, Kaffir Cat (Felis silvestris lybica), also known as the Desert Cat, is a subspecies of the Wildcat (F. silvestris). They appear to have diverged from the other subspecies about 131,000 years ago. Some individual F. s. lybica were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, and are the ancestors of the domestic cat. Remains of domesticated cats have been included in human burials as far back as 9,500 years ago in Cyprus.
The African Wildcat eats primarily mice, rats and other small mammals. If the situation permits, it also eats birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects. The cat approaches its prey slowly, and attacks as soon as it reaches a distance of about 1 meter. The African Wildcat is mainly active during the night and twilight. When confronted, the African Wildcat raises its hair to make itself seem like a larger cat and intimidate opponents. At daytime it usually hides in the bushes, although it is sometimes active on dark, cloudy days. The territory of a male overlaps with that of a few females, who defend the territory against intruders. A female gives birth to two to six kittens, with three being average. The African Wildcat often rests and gives birth in cave-like rock piles. The gestation lasts between 56 to 69 days. The kittens are born blind and need the full care of the mother. Most kittens are born in the wet season, when there is sufficient food. They stay with their mother for five to six months, and are fertile after one year.
In its native environment, the Wildcat is adaptable to a variety of habitat types: savanna, open forest, and steppe. Although domesticated breeds show a great variety of shapes and colours, wild individuals are medium-brown with black stripes, between 45 and 80 cm (18-32 inches) in length, and weigh between 3 and 8 kilograms (6-17.6 pounds). Shoulder height averages about 35 cm (14 in) and tail length is about 30 cm (12 in). The African subspecies tends to be a little smaller and a lighter brown in colour.