Greetings, kitty fans. I'm re-running my series on the 36 species of wild cats, for funsies and also just in case anyone happens to have missed one. Instead of a random order, I'll be proceeding from A to Z, which means that this week's cat is the African Golden Cat.
The African Golden Cat (Profelis aurata) is a cat of medium weight and size that can be found in the African rain forests of Central and West Africa. It is a close relative of the Caracal and the Serval, as you can see from its coloring and build, but it is a separate species, and the only extant member of the genus Profelis.
This cat typically measures up to 31 inches (80 cm) from nose to the base of the tail, and its tail is only about 12 inches (30 cm) in length, and weighs up to 35 lbs. Males are typically larger than females, although the size of both genders varies depending on the range.
The red-brown cinnamon-colored coat is the typical coloration for African Golden Cats, although some melanistic individuals exist. Cats found in the western part of the range tend to have more distinct spotting than cats found in the eastern rain forests. Within the rain forests terrain varies, and the African Golden Cat can live in river bottoms, cloud forest, bamboo forest, and moorlands.
African Golden Cats are hard to glimpse because of their reclusive and solitary nature, but researchers believe they are crepuscular or nocturnal hunters. They feed primarily on rodents, birds, monkeys, duikers (small antelope species), forest hogs and sometimes even domestic birds and small livestock.
Litter sizes usually consist of two kittens at most, and they have a gestation period of approximately 75 days.
There are two recognized subspecies of African Golden Cat:
- Profelis aurata aurata (found in Congo to Uganda)
- Profelis aurata celidogaster (found in Western Africa)
The subspecies are characterized by their spotting patterns, as mentioned above. P. a. aurata have few to no spots, and then only on its lower body. P. a. celidogaster has many spots, sometimes all over its body.
The African Golden Cat is on the IUCN's Red List of near-threatened species.