Wednesday 21 August 2019

Wildcat Whiskers Wednesday

Mum says I look like a wild cat with my amazing markings.

close up of tabby cat

Talking of wildcats, have you seen The Tigers of Scotland documentary on Netflix?

Catch the trailer here 

Mum watched and was shocked to hear that these amazing and beautiful creatures are on the verge of becoming extinct. 

Sadly, their numbers are dwindling fast.
" In just a couple of years ago experts believed that there were between 35 and 100 pure breed Scottish Wildcats and up to 400 hybrids. The latest estimate is that there are up to 100 hybrids with the possibility that there are no 100% pure Wildcats left." - The Tigers of Scotland website.
The hour-long documentary by Wild Films Ltd and narrated by actor Iain Glen, focuses on the wildcats and the conservation efforts currently being undertaken to ensure their survival.

These elusive and magnificent cats, that once inhabited England and Wales and are now only confined to Scotland, are larger than a domestic cat and not to be confused with a domestic tabby. These ‘Highland Tigers’ (the name originates from their stripey fur and the fact that they’re the UK’s only remaining ‘big’ cat) are the UK's rarest mammal.

Even though Mum jokes with me that I look like a wild cat, it's important to note that the Scottish Wildcat is a distinctly different species than a typical domestic tabby house cat. For one thing, the wildcat is around 50% larger than the average moggy. And another thing is they are of stockier build and their tail is bushy with distinct black bands and a blunt tip. They also stay away from humans. Yeah, they may be cute but I doubt they would want you to pet them.
close up of Scottish Wildcat
photo credit: Peter G Trimming 'Kendra' via photopin (license)

Urgent action is needed to save our wildcats 

The Scottish Wildcat Action is the first national conservation plan with a vision to restore viable populations of Scottish wildcats north of the Highland fault line. 

They are committed to: 
Working with local people in wildcat priority areas to reduce the risks of hybridisation, disease and accidental persecution;Breeding healthy wildcats for later release to bolster the population through a conservation breeding programme;Gathering extensive data and sharing our findings to improve understanding of this elusive predator."

The main threats to the Scottish Wildcat are:

From the Scottish Wildcat Action website: 
  • 1) Hybridisation - Wildcats are very rare, so it makes it difficult for them to find and breed with other wildcats. Hybridisation starts when a Scottish wildcat breeds with a domestic cat, either an unneutered pet cat that is living in the countryside or a domestic cat that is living wild, known as a feral. Their hybrid kittens grow up and go on to breed again. A healthy population of wildcats can cope with some hybridisation on its fringes. However, because numbers of wildcats are now so low, and there are many times more domestic/feral cats, our native cat will soon be wiped out by this genetic introgression. 
  •  2) Disease - Ferals also carry a lot of disease and parasites unfortunately because they are often in poor condition. They can pass these on to wildcats including fatal diseases such as FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and FeLV (feline leukaemia virus), as well as cat flu. Surviving the harsh Scottish winters is tough enough without disease so this contributes to a shorter lifespan and less opportunities for wildcats to produce offspring. 
  • 3) Accidental persecution - Some land owners keep game birds, such as pheasants, and feral cats are considered a pest because they eat these birds. Ferals are therefore shot to keep numbers down. This is a legal predator control practice. However, sometimes wildcats can be mistaken for a feral cat, particularly at night when it is difficult to see.
We want to say that number 3 above "this is a legal predator control practice" angers me and Mum. Especially, Mum, who as you may well know is passionate about animal rights and hates all humans who mess with animals and nature.

There is another reason why these wildcats are threatened. They are losing their habitat.
A third of the small number of Scottish Wildcats that remain live in the publicly-owned Clashindarroch Forest in the Scottish Highlands and are in danger from logging by the Scottish Government’s Forestry Commission Scotland. 
"Wildcat Haven have found 13 wildcats in this forest. It is their last and only known major stronghold and breeding site. But logging is taking place in the middle of kitten season, disturbing wildcat mothers, which could make them abandon or even eat their young.The logging will tear the wildcat population apart, and threaten many other rare animals that live in the forest alongside them."

Sign the petition calling on the Scottish Government to immediately halt the logging and exploitation of Clashindarroch Forest to ensure the iconic Scottish wildcat survives. Click here to sign

Scottish Wildcat Links

Disclaimer: We are not being sponsored for this post. We are sharing because we want to raise awareness and to help save these wildcats. We also think the information will be of great interest to our cat-loving audience.

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Brian's Home Blog said...

Poor sweeties, they don't deserve any of that.

Eastside Cats said...

I signed, and shared!

Sandee said...

They don't deserve any of this indeed. Not right at all.

Thank you for joining the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

Have a fabulous Wordless Wednesday. ♥

World of Animals, Inc said...

You are great looking wild cat, Athena. We will have to check out that documentary later on. It's a shame what has been happening to the tigers. Thanks for the share. Have a wonderful day.
World of Animals

Summer said...

This is so sad. They are beautiful cats.

Melissa, Mudpie and Angel Truffles (Mochas, Mysteries and Meows) said...

Such beauties, just like you. I need to check out that documentary.

Katie Isabella said...

I had just read about that I think in National Geographic. I hate it. I'm with you in that #3 is NOT a solution valid or good at all! Humans just kill everything. Hate to think what they will do when all the wild animals or even domestic ones are gone.

pilch92 said...

You do look like a distant relative of the Scottish wildcat. XO

meowmeowmans said...

We need to watch that documentary. How unfair that the Scottish wildcat is suffering because of no fault of its own.