World's most deadly cat: Black footed cat

The Black-footed cat is the world's most deadly cat and can kill 14 prey in just one night.

© Shutterstock

What makes the Black-footed cat the most deadly cat in the world?

By Emilie Heyl Content Writer

Updated on the

The Black-footed cat looks very similar to your domestic cat, but it turns out it's one of the most deadly cats in the world. So why is that? Let’s find out.

The Black-footed cat looks very similar to your domestic feline friend, but it turns out it's actually one of the most lethal cats on the planet. So why is that? Let’s find out.

When asked, “What is the most dangerous cat in the world?” people will immediately think of the lion, the tiger or the leopard, right? Well, not everyone knows that there is another candidate in this category. Let us give you some clues: this wildcat is neither big nor particularly powerful and definitely not that terrifying…

And the answer is: The Black-footed cat! These cats are one of the smallest felines on earth and the most dangerous.

What is a black-footed cat?

The Black-footed cat, also called the African black footed cat, looks very similar to a domestic tabby. However, be aware of its small size and adorable, innocent looks, as a dangerous and adept killer lies beneath its sweet appearance. 

While it is the smallest wildcat in Africa it is also known to be an exceptional hunter. Indeed, this cat notches up more kills in a single night than a leopard in six months, making it the deadliest of all the world’s felines.

What does the black-footed cat look like?

The Black-footed cat doesn’t differ much from the household cats we are familiar with. Standing at 8 inches tall, measuring 14 to 20 inches in length, and weighing 2.4 to 4.2 pounds, this wildcat is roughly 200 times lighter than a lion. Their coat is light brown and covered with dark spots all over their body, which sometimes merge together to form rings. The tip of their short tail is also black. Despite its name, it is only the soles of their paws, which are black, protecting them from the hot ground.

The black footed cat

The Black footed cat hunting at dusk ©Shutterstock

Why is the black footed cat the most deadliest cat?

Most of the time, small-sized predators have a high metabolism, meaning they are always hungry. Therefore, they have to adapt their hunting skills in order to find some food. This African wildcat’s hunting technique is extraordinarily efficient. It has even developed three different ways to catch their prey: 

  • The fast hunt: A technique where it bounces really quickly through the tall grass to catch one of its small prey.
  • The slow hunt: This technique requires it to be quiet and careful. Indeed, here, the cat slowly and quietly sneaks up towards its prey.
  • The sit-and-wait hunt: This third technique is very similar to the second one, except here, the animal sits very still and quietly. It sometimes even closes its eyes and listens to the sounds of the night. They can sit there for hours, waiting for their next kill to arrive.

With these different techniques, the Black-footed cat can kill between 10 to 14 rodents or small birds in only one night (that’s an average of one kill every 50 minutes). According to Luke Hunter, Chief Conservation Officer at Panthera, a global wildcat conservation organisation: “With a 60 per cent success rate, black-footed cats are about three times as successful as lions, which average a successful kill about 20 to 25 per cent of the time.

What prey does the black-footed cat hunt?

The Black-footed cat is a dangerous threat to mice, birds and rabbits. But don’t worry; humans aren’t on the menu for these little creatures. The African wildcat is extremely shy and, therefore, mainly hunts at dusk. Nevertheless, this deadly animal does not seem to mind if its prey is larger or heavier than himself. According to local observers, this brave and skilled cat can sometimes attack goats or giraffes and deliberately bite the prey’s carotid artery. But that’s probably if they are REALLY hungry… right?

Where does the most lethal cat in the world live?

The black-footed cat lives in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. They live in dry Savannah areas in a burrow they took over from other animals. You can also find them living in abandoned termite mounds; that’s where their nickname, “ant tigers”, comes from.

One very interesting fact about the Black footed cat is that they don’t have to drink much. Indeed, because they live in a dry habitat, their bodies have adapted to this climate. However, they need a comparatively large amount of food (250g of meat per day) to stay hydrated.

Is the black-footed cat critically endangered?

Unfortunately, like many other animals, the African Black-footed cat is threatened by extinction. In 2002, the species was added to the “IUCN Red List of Endangered Species”. Due to the low level of awareness, there is a lack of donations, which is why various organisations are committed to preserving them.

In 2014, Gaia, an 8-month-old, joined Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City as part of a programme to conserve the at-risk breed. Once Gaia is mature, Hogle Zoo plans to mate her with their other black-footed feline called Ryder. It's also hoped that with Gaia taking up residency at the zoo, it will attract new fans for this lesser-known species.

A black footed cat with her baby

The Black footed cat with her offspring ©Shutterstock

Another reason for their extinction is kidney disease, from which a surprising number of black-footed cats suffer. There is a protein that destroys and poisons their kidneys. Despite research, it is unclear why this disease affects so many cats. The problem is that they get sick earlier and earlier and, therefore, only reproduce once or not at all. That is far too little to preserve the species.

What is the deadliest cat in the world?

It all depends on what criteria you base the most dangerous cat. Lions, tigers, leopards, and cheetahs all come to mind because of their excellent hunting skills and their impressive physiques. But, if we have a closer look at the success rate when it comes to catching prey, it is the Black footed cat which is number one. Indeed, with 60 per cent of their nightly raids, this wildcat is an outstanding huntsman who tries to hunt down a new "victim" every half hour. It has been known to kill up to an astonishing 14 rodents in just one night.

Now, if that’s not impressive, we don't know what is!

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