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Sand Cat Breed Information


Sand cat is the only species of cat that inhabits in deserts like the Arabian Desert, the Sahara, and the deserts of Pakistan and Iran. There are four subspecies of this cat that can be found in the south-eastern parts of Asia and northern parts of Africa. Number of sand cats decreased drastically in the past couple of decades due to poaching, habitat loss, recreational hunt and introduction of several new species (which compete for the common prey). These cats are listed as nearly threatened species which means that they may turn into the endangered species in the near future.

The paws of sand cats are covered with the long fur in order to protect them from the hot sands. During night, they go out to hunt rodents, insects, and lizards. During the day time, they hide in the shadow of rocks. They live under extreme environmental conditions as the temperatures may rise to about 52 °C) during the day and as low as -5 °C during the night. Most distinctive characteristic of these cats is their large pinnae. They use their highly developed ears for locating the underground movements of prey at night.

These cats are renowned for their outstanding digging capabilities, which they use to dig burrows in order to escape the heat of the sun. Furthermore, they lie on their back outside the burrow so as to lose internal heat. They have been known to close eyes at night when human approaches that make difficult to see them because their eyes do not lit up. As the population of these cats are so few, they have a loud mating call that resembles the barking of small dog. Their other vocalizations include growling, meowing, hissing, screaming, spitting, and purring. Other information about this cat is given below:

General Information:

Common Name Sand Cat
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata (Vertebrata)
Order Carnivora
Family Felidae
Genus Felinae (Felis)
Species Margarita
Habitat Sandy and stony deserts
Distribution From the Sahara through the Middle East to Turkestan.
Social System Solitary
Weight 4-8 pounds
Length 29-36 inches
Height 10-12 inches
Tail length 9 to 12 inches



Sand cats are light brown or grey in colour. Their legs are covered with black stripes and their ears are black on the tops. The reddish line runs from the corner of the eyes down to the cheeks of these cats. The color of the body of these cats provides camouflage. In addition to this, these cats have large eyes and head. Their pointed ears are positioned on the side of the head and their excellent sense of hearing facilitates finding of food. The paws of these cats are covered with the dense fur that prevents burns on the feet when they walk on the hot sand.

Reproduction and Offspring

Sand cats have two litters per year in parts of their territory in both March-April, and again in October. The gestation of these cats is 59-63 days, after which females produce a litter of two to four kittens. At birth, the newborn kittens weigh approximately 1.5 – 2 ounces, and gains about 11 grams per day. The eyes of kittens will normally be open by the 14th day, and they will begin to walk by the 21st day. The kittens begin to take food at the 5th weeks and become independent by 4-5 months. They reach sexual maturity around 11-13 months.

Hunting and Diet

Primarily nocturnal, Sand cats hunt by digging. The highly developed hearing of these cats allows them to locate prey which is not only sparsely distributed, but also locate in underground. The primary diet of these cats consists of 3-4 species of gerbils. It also includes reptiles, birds, and arthropods. These cats are also known for being the snake hunters. They kill snake with a rapid blow to the head that stuns, and then administer the death bite to the neck.

[ Cat With Long Hair – “Long Haired White Cat Breeds”]

Principal Threats

Sand cats are the only cats that do not face habitat degradation with their preferred habitat being the desert. One of the religious believes about these cats is that they were the companion of the Prophet Mohammed and they are not hunted as livestock raiders when they kill chickens. Unfortunately, these cats still face the threat of being collected for the pet trade and for being hunted for the sport while they are laying out sunning themselves.

Some facts about Sand Cats:

Few interesting facts about the sand cats are given below:

  • Sand Cats can make short sprints and they reach speeds up to 25mph
  • Due to the furry paws, these cats do not leave footprints in the sand
  • These cats are active during the night, hence, these care called nocturnal animals. They do this to avoid high temperatures (above 52 degrees of Celsius) during the day
  • These cats often live in burrows, abandoned by other animals like porcupines or foxes
  • They are carnivore (meat-eaters). The diet of these cats consists of insects, small rodents, birds, lizards and snakes.
  • They hide leftovers of food in the sand
  • These cats can survive without water long period of time usually couples of months. They also absorb required moisture from the food that they eat
  • Main predators of the sand cats are snakes, wild dogs, birds of prey and humans.
  • These cats are very vocal animal and they are able to growl, meow, purr, hiss and bark.
  • Unlike other cat species, sand cat is poor jumper and climber but they are proficient digger
  • They dig burrows in the sand where they hide from the harsh desert sun
  • Sand cat is a solitary creature and they gather with other sand cats two times per year, during the mating season which is usually in March-April and October. They call and attract their partners by bark-like call.
  • These cats can survive up to 13 years in captivity, but they rarely live that long as 41% of captive sand cat kittens never reach their adulthood


Swati takes pride of being a dog lover. Her current passions include blogging, writing and collecting dog pictures of various breeds. She is an active member of stray dog care society.

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