Meet the sand cat
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Felis margarita isn’t a trendy cocktail at your favorite Mexican restaurant. Better known as the sand cat, the
tiny wild feline is a true desert dweller
found in remote sandy or stony areas of
North Africa, the Middle East and Central
Also known as the sand dune cat, the
species is characterized by a flat, broad
head topped with oversize ears; heavily
furred paws for traction and insulation on loose, hot sand;
and pale fur with indistinct markings on the body and dark
stripes on the legs and tail. He leads a solitary existence,
hunting at night for small rodents like gerbils, spiny mice
and jerboas, supplementing his diet with the occasional
young hare, snake or bug.
Fascinating fact: The sand cat is independent of drinking
water. If none is available, he gets what he
needs from his food.
Unlike many wild members of the cat
family, the sand cat is listed as a species of
least concern by the International Union
for Conservation of Nature. The species is
considered to be naturally rare because of
its remote and desolate habitat. Another
reason is because little is known about the
sand cat, specifically because of his rarity. It’s difficult for sci-
entists to evaluate whether their numbers are declining.
For this reason, sand cats were in the news recently
when researchers in the United Arab Emirates used camera
traps to document the cats’ presence in Abu Dhabi in 2015,
some 10 years since their last sighting. The images may
bring new insights into this shy and secretive feline.
In the Wild
Say hello to the last litter box
you will ever buy.
FAST FACT The sand cat is the only cat that lives primarily in the desert.