Rare African Sand Cat Born in Israel

Rare African Sand Cat Born in Israel
Renana, a 3-week-old sand kitten, is seen next to her mother Rotem at the Ramat Gan Zoological Park near Tel Aviv (Reuters)

No one is certain of the history of the domestic cat. There is a group of small cat wild cats, found around the world, belonging to the genus felis. Most are similar in appearance, and to a degree similar in behavior. Experts are unsure whether so some or all are distinct species or subspecies. Experts agree domestic cats probably derived from these cats, perhaps some - perhaps all...They are:

Felis silvestris iberia, Spanish Wildcat

Felis silvestris grappa, Scottish Wildcat

Felis silvestris lybica, African Wildcat

Felis silvertris Europeus, European Wildcat

Felis silverstric ornata, Indian Desert Wildcat

Felis margarita, African Sand Cat

These species or sub-species are all rare, most endangered.  So when one is born in captivity, it's a big deal. Sometimes they are inseminated in order to make that happen. In July, an African Sand Cat was born at the Ramat Gan Zoological Center near Tel Aviv. It's named Renana, which means "joy" or "song" in Hebrew.

In the wild - in the African and Middle Eastern dessert, these small cats are nocturnal. During the day, they bury themselves to hide from the hot sun, and predators. The resemblance to domestic cats is clearly stunning.

Interesting tidbit, unlike other feline species, the Sand cat does not leave its feces in exposed areas. They make a unique loud, high-pitched barking sounds when in danger or while seeking a mate. Very little is known about the cat’s life expectancy in the wild, but in captivity, they can live up to 13 years.

Sand cat kittens grow rather rapidly, reaching three quarters of the adult size within five months of being born, and are fully independent after their first year.

Renana is expected to join Israel’s Sand Cat Breeding Program which plans to reintroduce sand cats into the wild. The Zoological Center Tel Aviv- Ramat Gan, where Renana was born, hopes that the kitten will help remove the species from risk of extinction.

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