Wildcat Felis silvestris

One of our rarest and most endangered mammals, and the only wild member of the cat family in the UK. 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


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.


  • 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

IUCN Red List status


When to see in Scotland

Jan – Dec

Where to see in Scotland

Northern parts of Scotland including the Cairngorms National Park.

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