Black Footed Cat
The black-footed cat, also known as the small-spotted black cat, is perhaps the smallest wild feline in Africa, with a body-and-head length of just 35 inches. Despite its name, only its paws are black or brown. With its large, rounded black spots and dark stripes on its lightly shined fur, it’s remarkably well camouflaged; especially on quiet nights. When out in the wild, the black-footed cat is elusive, usually hiding behind rocks and under fallen trees.
The rarity and special characteristics of this cat make it an endangered species in the region it lives. A few hundred remain in the reserves of Masai Mara in Kenya, where scientists have been conducting genetic research to help determine whether the black-footed cat will be able to survive in the long run. Though numbers have slightly dropped in recent years, a last count in 2021 placed the number at eight. It is believed that the decline is due to poaching, and is a worrying sign for the rest of the continent. While the cat is disappearing, its appeal to cat lovers and writers alike has not diminished.
Noted British author Enid Blyton wrote about the beautiful black-spotted cat in her lifetime, and wrote about it’s elusive wanderings in “The Book of a Thousand Cats.” And according to popular catwalk hypnotist and animal whisperer, James Bond, the black-footed cat is a classic “cool cat” that is equally at home in homes or laboratories. He illustrated this point in his Bond Girls: Women and Cats collection, which featured a black-spotted cat with a ball of fur stuck between its toes. (Bond also owned a black ball python, which was thought to have died of old age.)
A study by zoologists in Britain found evidence that suggested black spotted cats are genetically closer to humans than they are to other cats. The conclusion was based on genetic analysis of black-footed coat. The analysis showed that the black spotted gene came from a gene that was common in humans but not in cats. The study did not conclude that cats were derived from black spotted cats. The study merely concluded that further research must be done, for there is still insufficient evidence to prove whether cats are, in fact, derived from black footed breeds or not.
Though some sources suggest that the cat evolved from a cobra that fed off the blood of oxen, historical records do not support this theory. The word cobra comes from a Latin word that means “to prick,” which describes how these cats usually wound their prey with fangs. In Australia, a cobra can still be seen prowling in the night, although it no longer preys on humans. Today, the most common place that people find black Cats is in the United States. There are even Black Cat condos available in the states to shelter them.
The black-footed variety is also thought to be related to the Asian Leopard Cat, though their relationship is unclear. Though these cats look similar, they are completely different in structure and size. While there is no proof either way, black spotted cats may be on their way to becoming the most popular cat in the United States.