Arabian Sand Cat Facts
- The Arabian Sand Cat, also popular as the sand dune cat, forms the only feline that resides principally within the true desert.
- This rather fascinating feline species was first identified in 1858 when one was seen in the Sahara, quite by accident.
- In 2002, the IUCN originally listed the mammal as Near Threatened due to concerns about potential low population size and decline.
- However, in 2016, after reviewing promising new data, that status was significantly upgraded to Least Concern.
Arabian Sand Cat Physical Description
The Arabian Sand Cat represents a small species of a wildcat and seems to be highly adapted to its environment. It possesses a stocky build, with short legs and a rather long tail.
Individuals generally show a light tan in color and most commonly, the fur appears without spots or stripes. The chin, lips, belly, and throat display white. The ears show tawny brown at the base with a black tip.
This cat attains a body length of as much as 20 in (52 cm). The longer than average tail may also reach 12.2 in (1 cm) in length. Individuals could weigh up to 7.1 lb (3.2 kg).
The bottom of its paws becomes extremely thickly padded which naturally provides protection from the desert terrain. The ears grow large, compared to other small wildcats.
Acute hearing remains a survival necessity in an environment where prey stays scarce.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Felidae
- Genus: Felis
- Species: F. margarita
Arabian Sand Cat Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The magnificent Arabian Sand Cat appears to have a widespread, though disjointed distribution. It inhabits largely the deserts of northern Africa, but also appears to be present in smaller populations in central and southwest Asia.
In North Africa, the cat appears in numerous locations including Morocco, the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, Libya, Chad, and Sudan. In Asia, it lives in an area ranging from the Caspian Sea to the northern border of Afghanistan.
This feline likes both sandy and stony desert regions and they seem to prefer flat or undulating terrain with little vegetation. It also typically avoids bare sand dunes. In such locations, there is comparatively little food.
It remains capable of surviving in temperatures ranging from 23F-126F (-5C-52C). Individuals will withdraw to burrows during extreme conditions.
While the feline will, of course, drink when water is available, it can survive for months just on the water in its food.