5 Cool Cats in the Wild


Black-Footed Cat

black-footed cat
They may look sweet and innocent, but with a 60 percent kill rate, the black-footed cat is the deadliest cat on the planet. Public Domain

When you think of African cats, you immediately picture one of those huge, tawny, black-maned creatures striding across the plains in search of a wildebeest to slay. But consider this, when hunting on its own, a lion has an average success rate of around 15 percent. Hunting in groups can double this to about 30. One problem for these supposed lords of the plains: They apparently fail to take wind direction into account, giving away their approach as often as not.

Now contrast these stats with a little fluffball on the other end of the spectrum — the adorable black-footed cat (Felis nigripes). It's known as southern Africa's smallest wild kitty. But in this case, size really doesn't matter because with a 60 percent kill rate, this tiny hunter is the deadliest cat on the planet. They're such finely-tuned predators they can actually snatch birds right out of the air.

Unlike most cats, black-footed cats don't climb trees, but keep cozy in underground burrows from which they emerge at night to prowl for food. Besides birds, they'll eat just about anything with legs, including rodents and insects. Their preferred habitat is a dry grassy scrubland full of gerbils. Besides northern sections of South Africa, they can be found in Namibia and Botswana. Their status: vulnerable.