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Scottish wildcat

Felis silvestris

Since the 1980s, the wild population of the Scottish wildcat has decreased so drastically that they are now seen as one of the most endangered native mammals within the British Isles.

This may look like an ordinary domestic tabby cat; it's not! Several Scottish clans’ crests have a Scottish wildcat and carry the motto “touch not the cat but a glove”. It is infinitely more ferocious than a domestic cat. Scottish wildcats are up to 65 centimetres in length with a tail half this length. They weigh up to 7 kilograms.

Zoos are part of an ongoing programme called Saving Wildcats recovery project which is based at Highland Wildlife Park. Zoos directly contribute to cats being released into the wild as kittens born in a zoo will be sent to the Highland Wildlife Park before being released into the wild.

IUCN red list status

The IUCN status of the Scottish wildcat is least concern.

The IUCN status of the Scottish wildcat is least concern.

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Animal class


Conservation status

The main threat for the Scottish wildcat is hybridisation with domestic cats. Deforestation is also a huge problem. Game keeping is also a threat on estates, as the wildcat can be accidentally shot when they practice game bird management and predator control.


Scottish wildcats prefer wooded areas and forests


There could be as few as 200 pure Scottish wildcats in the Scottish Highlands.


Carnivore. They eat small to medium sized prey animals such as rabbits, rats and hares.