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Wild Cats Rebounding Slightly in Switzerland

Wild Cats Rebounding Slightly in Switzerland

The European wildcat may be mistaken frequently for the common house cat or a domesticated cat gone feral, but it is a separate species, and a wild one at that. Fortunately, because of legal protection and conservation measures, they have grown slightly in numbers to an estimated 450-900 in a region of Switzerland. Hunting in previous centuries drove their populations dangerously low. The species is believed to be extinct in the Netherlands, and possibly also in the Czech Republic. They remain remote from humans, and need dense forests to thrive. Since they are so difficult to spot, researchers soak logs with valerian (the cats like to rub against it) to collect the fur they leave which is gathered and examined with DNA analysis.

The small wild cats live in the media shadow of lions, and tigers, but they too are suffering from declining populations. One researcher explained, “I had been doing my PhD on the Guigna, which is small forest cat in the south of Chile that had never been studied before. All we had to go on was one picture of one living individual. The total extent of our knowledge of this cat was that picture and some stomach content of museum specimens, the last of which had been collected in 1919. Given these circumstances, people were very discouraging and funding was almost non-existent, but nevertheless I took a crack at it. ” (Source:

Little or no information exists for some of the small ones, such as the Javan fishing cat. Conservation of these cats is just as important, though they clearly receive less attention.

Image Credit: Michael Gäbler

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5:15PM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

It`s good to see the Wild Cat (Felis sylvestris) making a steady recovery. Thanks for the article. The website of the UK based "Cat Survival Trust" is replete with information on the smaller wild cats of the world :

11:21AM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

Good they still survive.

6:02AM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

This is good news, thanks for the article and beautiful picture...

5:42PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

Good to know that folks are paying attention to the smaller of the big cats. Thanks for the article.

5:33PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

My previous comment was posted to the wrong article.

It's very encouraging that wildcat numbers are up in Switzerland!

5:30PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

Very enjoyable and informative. Calls such as the bobcat caterwaul, the serval yelp and the ocelot "hello" gave me a lot of empathy for the cats.

3:12PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

beautiful creatures. great news.

6:13PM PST on Dec 7, 2011

Beautiful cats. Thank you.

9:37PM PDT on Oct 12, 2011

What a beautiful animal. We have to save these gorgeous big cats.

6:08PM PDT on May 10, 2011

Blast, coming from Europe I didn't even know they were a different species!

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