Domestic vs African Wildcats

caracal african wild cat

There are quite a few differences between the African wildcat and the domestic cat. 

The more you learn about the similarities and differences of these animals, the easier it will be to care for your feline at home. These cats have more in common than you might think.

Overall Size

African wildcats measure anywhere from 18 to 30 inches with a total weight of 6 to 15 pounds. This is really only slightly larger than the domestic house cat. It is about the same size as the Bengal cat and some other shorthair breeds.

You will instantly notice that African wildcats have a lean yet muscular body, which is similar to certain domestic breeds like the Abyssinian. This impressive muscular allow these cats to be very effective hunters.


An African Wildcat has a coat that is sandy brown with some black rings going around their legs and tail. This coloration is no accident—it allows them to blend into their natural environment. This just makes it easier for these cats to capture their prey.

There are a number of domestic cats that have a similar overall look to the African Wildcat, including the Mackerel Tabby. This coloration is actually still seen in a number of domestic cats as an evolutionary trait. While most domestic cats don’t need the hunting advantage, it can certainly still help.

african wild cat in savannah e1584715673377


When you take a look at the paws of an African Wildcat, you will instantly notice that they are quite a bit larger than that of the domestic cat. They have retractable claws that come out when they need to climb up a rock face or tree. Domestic cats also have this ability, which tends to serve them well on a regular basis.

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It is pretty obvious that the teeth of the African wildcat are meant for piercing their prey’s flesh as quickly and effectively as possible. These animals tend to open up their mouths very wide so they can take a big bite of their prey at once.

Both domestic cats and African wildcats use the side of their mouth to chew. This allows them to shred their food and tear it up with ease. This is something that serves wildcats much better in general, but it can be useful for domestics as well.


The tail of the African Wildcat is a bit longer than domestic cats in general. The tail of this animal contributes to its incredible balance while it hunts its prey. One of the interesting things about these animals is that you can get a better sense of their mood by looking at their tail.

If a cat’s tail is stiff and standing straight up, it probably means that it is agitated or in defense mode. This means that the animal feels threatened. If the tail is relaxed and bopping from side to side, it means they are calm.


There is no question that the African Wildcat has incredible night vision, which is necessary for catching their prey. These are nocturnal animals, so it only makes sense that they would be able to see very well when the sun goes down.

African Wildcats probably have slightly better night vision than domestic cats. Cats do have problems seeing things that are far away though. This is why they often rely on their sense of smell to help them get information on animals that aren’t up close.

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african wild kittens playing


The African Wildcat and domestic cats both enjoy playing with each other and even other animals quite a bit. Wildcats can be seen engaging in playtime with their own kind on a daily basis, especially siblings.

There are lots of different ways that both types of these cats play with each other. For example, young wildcats will practice their stalking by sneaking up on each other and pouncing. This isn’t something that is commonly observed in domestics.

Territorial Behavior

Every single cat on the planet is born with territorial instincts. These animals sometimes urinate on something to claim it as their own. They also tend to rub up on things they like to leave their scent. This communicates to other cats and animals that it belongs to them.

Domestic cats will often leave their scent on their owners by rubbing against them. This just means that your cat really loves you, but it’s also part of their natural instincts. Wildcats use urination as a primary means of marking their territory.


African Wildcats and Domestics alike need a high-protein, meat-based diet. These animals are naturally carnivores. While wildcats may occasionally eat plant material once in a while, they feed on other animals for the most part.

It is important to limit the carbohydrate intake of domestic cats, as they can become overweight very easily. Lean fat and protein are what these animals need. And its always a good idea to feed your cat with proper cat food.


African Wildcats tend to vocalize in certain ways that domestic cats do not. These animals do, however, share a number of vocalizations in common. For example, both types of cats have been known to purr and yowl.

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  • African Wildcats tend to be slightly larger than domestic cats, except for certain breeds like the Bengal.
  • Wildcats have a light, sandy brown coat that is similar to certain domestics like the Mackerel Tabby.
  • Both domestic cats and African Wildcats have retractable claws that instinctually come out when climbing is required. Wildcats have slightly bigger paws than their domestic counterparts.
  • The tail of the wildcat is a bit longer than the average domestic. It can be used to communicate the overall mood of this animal at any given time.
  • African Wildcats and domestic cats both have excellent night vision, which comes in handy for capturing prey.
  • Both types of cats have territorial instincts, but they tend to come out in different ways. African wildcats urinate on things to leave their mark more than domestics.
  • There are some differences in vocalizations between these cats, but they both are known to purr and yowl.
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