by Barbara George – Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
The African Golden Cat, Caracal aurata, one of the lesser-known small cats, has adapted to living in equatorial rainforests, a vastly different environment to that of our domestic cats. They are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, mainly due to habit loss with the resultant loss of prey species, although they are captured in snares set for the bushmeat trade. The skin of these cats has a totemic value, and is used for ritual purposes, for wrapping valuable items or for good luck hunting charms.
These cats are medium-sized, sturdy and powerful, with short legs and tail, and large paws, typically weighing up to 18 kg, with a length up to 90cm and a height of 50cm. There are two colour patterns, red and silver/grey, and the pattern can be spotted or plain.
African Golden cats are the only forest-dependent wild cat in Africa, found only in west central Africa and in the north along the west coast, with no sightings or evidence of these cats between these areas. The cats avoid people, and are rarely seen.
Since these cats share their territory with other predators, they tend to hunt when the others are inactive; they have adapted from crepuscular behaviour to cathemeral, hunting at any time of day or night. Prey is typically rodents and small mammals, but can include birds and reptiles. Based on the prey species, most hunting is done on the ground; it is not known if these cats climb trees.
More research is needed to fully understand the African Golden Cat and to protect them from extinction.
To contact Barbara, please email email@example.com