This Adorable Tabby Is the World’s Deadliest Feline

Felis nigripes, the African black-footed cat, stands at just 8 to 10 inches tall and weighs roughly 200 times less than the average lion, but it is actually the most efficient feline predator on the planet.

The black-footed cat is actually the smallest African feline, smaller even than the average alley cat, but you shouldn’t be fooled by its demure stature, because it is actually the deadliest of all the world’s felines. This adorable furball has an accelerated metabolism that requires it to hunt almost non-stop, which means that it kills an average of 10 to 14 rodents or small birds every night, more victims than a leopard hunts in a month. To top it all off, its predations success is around 60 percent, while lions only succeed in catching their victims about 20 to 25 percent of the time.

Photo: Zbyszko/Wikimedia Commons

To us humans, and even to large animals like wildebeests, the African black-footed cat is not a concern, but to the smaller inhabitants of the savannas, they are a true nightmare. Its excellent night vision and hearing turns “almost anything that moves into a potential meal, and the chances of escaping it are slim.


Black-footed cats are found only in three countries of southern Africa: Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and the species is considered rare compared to other cats on the African continent. They prefer grass plains, scrub desert, and sand plains, areas with high rodent and bird densities.


According to the International Society for Endangered Cats, a single African black-footed cat can hunt and eat up to 3,000 rodents a year.


There is even a native African legend that claims black-footed cats can bring down giraffes. It’s obviously just a myth, but it pays homage to the tenacity of this deceptively cute natural-born killer.


Unfortunately, the African black-footed tat faces several man-made threats, from destruction of habitat, to a reduced prey base, both caused especially by overgrazing by cattle.

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