Hunting African Wildcat

Hunting Wildcat in Africa

The African wildcat (Felix Sylvestris lybica) is a subspecies of wildcat that inhabits most of Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula.  The only African areas not host to the African wildcat are the desert and the rain forest.  It is similar in appearance to a domestic cat except that it is larger and has longer hind legs.  The fur of the African wildcat is light grey with reddish or yellow tints on some of the animals.  There are six to eight horizontal dark stripes running across the face and throat.  A black stripe runs down the back. The belly is white. 

The females breed between September and March.  Gestation is 65 days.  Litters consist of two to five cubs whose eyes don’t open for 10 - 14 days.  The female seeks out a burrow or cave under a rock to have her litter.  The cubs stay with the mother for up to six months and are fertile when they are sent out on their own.

African wildcats measure between 18 inches to 24 inches from head to end of body.  Weight ranges from seven pounds to nine pounds with the female being smaller.  The African wildcat eats rodents, small mammals, fish, birds and insects.  The cat approaches its prey slowly with its head low until within three feet, then pounces.  It will bite the prey after snaring it with its foreleg claws.

Most of its activities take place at twilight or the night.  During daylight hours, it keeps to bushes and tall grasses except in the case of dark, cloudy, or cool weather.  If threatened, it raises its fur to look larger and more intimidating.  African wildcats are solitary and defend their territory aggressively.  They spend most of their time on the ground, but are excellent climbers and will head to the branches if threatened. 

African wildcat hunting mainly takes place during a hunt for other animals.  Most are taken as an animal of opportunity.  They can be hunted by walking, spotting, or stalking, but taking one as the opportunity arises is much more common.  The main target area is the heart and lungs.  The African wildcat has its heart placed slightly farther back in its body than most animals, so the rifle’s aiming point will be slightly different. 

If the shot is straight forward with the cat facing the hunter; aim for the juncture of neck and chest.  With the African wildcat facing right or left; aim one quarter of the way up the body just behind the foreleg.  When the shot is on an angle, use the off-shoulder aiming point as you would on other animals.  That is, aim for the opposite shoulder.  Should the African wildcat be facing away, then what’s commonly called “The Texas Brain Shot” - aiming at the base of the tail where it joins the body, will put it down.

Caliber for such a small animal isn’t extremely important.  If a rifle chambered for one of the 6 mm, or .243s is available, then use that.  However, any good plains game cartridge will do the job and not tear up too much of the hide.   A .22 rifle makes a good rifle for this small cat.