Wildcat Felis silvestris

One of our rarest and most endangered mammals, and the only wild member of the cat family in the UK. Wildcats are restricted to small parts of the Scottish Highlands, where they feeds on Rabbits and ground-nesting birds. A very shy animal, almost entirely nocturnal and found on moorland and in woodlands. You have to be extremely lucky to catch a glimpse of a wildcat in the wild.

You can find out more about Scottish wildcats and how Scottish Wildlife Trust are helping with a national conservation project to help protect them at scottishwildcataction.org.


The Wildcat looks very similar to a very large tabby cat, but it is stockier with a fluffier, blunt tail. Distinct banding on the tail and markings on the body enable spotters to tell true Wildcats apart from domestic hybrids.


Length: 56cm plus a tail of 29cm Weight: 3-7kg Average lifespan: 8 years


Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, listed under CITES Appendix II and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.


Only found in the remotest and wildest parts of Scotland.

When to see

Jan – Dec


The domestic cat originated from the African Wildcat subspecies Felis sylvestris lybica and subsequently spread with humans throughout the world. The domestic cat is thought to have lived alongside humans in Scotland for over 2000 years.

Common name


Species name

Felis silvestris

When to see in Scotland

Jan – Dec

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