International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

Black-footed Cat Territories

Black-footed cat spraying urine to mark territory. Photo Alex Sliwa

For their diminutive size, black-footed cats have astonishingly large home ranges. Male ranges average 20.7 sq km, and may reach 25 sq km. Home ranges of the males overlap the ranges of one to four females. Female home ranges are generally smaller, at around 10 sq. km. Young males disperse far from their parent’s range, while young females settle in adjacent ranges or take over part of their mother’s range.

There is a slight overlapping of adult male ranges, and territory boundaries are marked with intense spray marking. An adult male marks his territory on average 100-200 times a night, directing a fine mist of strong smelling urine towards tall grass tufts, bushes and termite mounds. Once, while advertising to a neighbouring female, he left a record 600 markings in one night. Other marking behaviour included cheek rubbing and loud vocalizations.

Females only marked heavily when they wanted attention from males or when staking out their ranges against other females, then averaging 100 sprays a night. Black-footed cats make no attempt to hide their faeces, leaving them sometimes on termite mounds, on aardwolf middens but most often depositing them unceremoniously on the bare ground.

This long acting signal system proved very effective, since little interaction was seen between cats. When a male and female did meet outside of the breeding season, there would be a brief nose-to-nose sniff before they resumed their solitary hunting.


One response to “Black-footed Cat Territories

  1. Raul May 1, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Extremelly interesting piece of research.If Black Foot Cats mark so many times how do they drink so little ? Any idea of their average life span ?

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