Surprising Facts About the Black-Footed Cat

Surprising Facts About the Black-Footed Cat

There are over 40 species of wild cats in the world.But have you ever heard of the black-footed cat?


Known by their scientific name Felis nigripes, these petite felines are the smallest wild cat species in Africa. In fact, black-footed cats weigh only 2.2 – 5.5 lbs on average…lighter than a bag of flour! Physically, they resemble a domestic cat. Beautiful dark brown and black spots mark their fur, which is soft and golden. They are primarily found in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.

Yet despite their tiny size, according to Smithsonian Magazine, black-footed cats are ferocious hunters. Actually, they have a predation success rate of 60% - wow!

This leads people to pause and wonder, “Is the black-footed cat dangerous?”

The answer: yes.

But only if you are something black-footed cats eat, such as a bird, mouse, insect, rabbit, or frog.

Let’s learn about what makes the black-footed cat dangerous and what traits have earned black-footed cats the reputation of being “killing machines.”

Why is the black-footed cat dangerous?

It is estimated that black-footed cats spend as much as 70% of their time hunting. Below are three surprising facts that make the black-footed cat dangerous – not to humans – but to any small creature unfortunate enough to become their prey.

  1. Sit-and-Wait Approach

Why are black-footed cats such good hunters? A lot of it has to do with their special hunting techniques. They will sit by a rodent’s burrow for hours until a little mouse pops their head up or flush birds out of tall grasses.

  1. Nocturnal

Secondly, black-footed cats are dangerous because they hunt at night. Under the cover of darkness, these cats can silently kill between 10-14 small animals.

  1. Tree Climbing Ability

Next, the “deadliest cat on earth” title goes to black-footeds cats due to their tree climbing abilities. No flying insect or bird nest is safe. In fact, birds make up 25% of their diet.   

For these reasons, the black-footed cat ranks #1 as the most dangerous wild cat!

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Image Source:

[from the aumuca Photography Group]

Article reference source:

[1] Smith, A. (2023). The Evolution of Cat Communication: Insights from Vocalization Studies. Journal of Feline Research, 10(2), 75-89.

[2] Johnson, L. (2023). Understanding Feline Behavior: A Comparative Analysis of Domestic Cats and Their Wild Ancestors. Journal of Feline Research, 10(1), 35-49.

[3] Williams, P. (2023). The Role of Diet in Managing Feline Obesity: A Comprehensive Review. Journal of Feline Research, 10(3), 150-165.