African Golden Cat

Caracal aurata

Quick Bio for African Golden Cats:

Status: Near Threatened
have from 1-3 cubs
Weight: 4-18 kg
Diet: Carnivore, Piscivore

Physical description of African Golden Cats

The African golden cat is a sturdy cat with a strong body and shortish legs. It appears less feline than most other members of its family. While not a “Big Cat”, it is bigger than most. At about 75 cm long, males can weigh in at 15 kg. Females, though, are slightly smaller and often lighter. The tail length is an additional 30 cm.

Their short legs are more adaptable for trees than a lot of other cats, which gives them an advantage in the wild forests in which they live.

The fur is golden. No surprises there. However, it may also be orange, red or even gray in color. Spotted individuals also exist, though they are not as common. The face has some markings, and the chest and neck are often white, or at least not as dark as the rest of the fur.

Distribution and habitat of African Golden Cats

The African Golden Cat lives across central Africa along the equator, from Kenya to the Atlantic coast.

These cats live both on the savanna and in the primary forest. They can be found in multiple habitats, though they prefer dense forest cover.

The dense undergrowth is suitable for hunting, as are the area’s surrounding waterways and wetlands. Though they are found in most places, they are most numerous in the denser forests. As for tropical forests, we have insufficient research data.

African Golden Cat behaviour

So few individuals have been sighted that we can only make assumptions. However, given other cats and jungle animals, it is reasonable to assume certain behavioral patterns.

How African golden cats operate within their territories is open for debate, but given the rare sightings, they are quite likely more active at night. Sightings are often in the twilight hours and rarely during the day, though daytime activity has been observed.

How far they travel and what their ranges are is difficult to determine given the minimal research undertaken on these elusive cats.

What do African Golden Cats eat?

Being a cat, the golden cat is carnivorous. Slightly larger than most cats, they most likely prey on small antelope and similar ungulates. Any other small mammals that come within range would also be a target, as are birds.

Hunting in trees has also been observed, and as forementioned, their shorter limbs make this readily manageable.

Similar to the caracal, to which it is most closely related, its known trait is not to eat the feathers of birds it captures. Multiple cat species like to avoid feathers.

Mating and Parental care of African Golden Cats

We don’t know much about the breeding behavior of this species. No surprise there, either. Jungle cats are notoriously shy, and it is difficult to acquire reliable data on them. Amazingly, the first video images of an African golden cat were only shot in the 2010s.

It would appear that they are no different from other cats and are solitary. The exception is when females are rearing their young. It seems that there are only a couple of kittens per litter.

While kittens are weaned at about six weeks it takes up to a year before cats are mature. During this time, which they most likely spend with their mother, can be inferred from their comparative zoo counterparts.

Who preys on African Golden Cats

Who knows if anything preys on them? The African golden cat hides in the jungle. I have read that leopards prey upon them. This seems reasonable due to the size and overlapping habitats. However, I haven’t found the research to corroborate this.

Impact of African Golden Cats on the human economy

Like most predators, the fur of the African golden cat is a status symbol in local traditions. However, nowadays, hunting is banned in most areas of its range. These laws are somewhat meaningless in some countries like the DRC, where central rule doesn’t readily affect what happens in the dark reaches of the rainforest.

Like most cats, the African golden cat is considered a pest by farmers who are afraid it will eat their smaller livestock.

However, this is probably unfounded, given the shyness and lack of human interaction with the cat. It is rarely seen, and hard to prove that it preys on goats or sheep. In areas where life is arduous, and something eats the livestock, every known predator will be blamed.

Conservation status and human impact on African Golden Cats

Due to their low numbers, the African golden cat is considered to be threatened. Numbers are decreasing due to habitat destruction. As human populations grow in West Africa and the unabated development of cash crops, forest land is repeatedly cleared. Loss of habitat is always the biggest threat to the cat.

Other important information about African Golden Cats

Most recently the connection to the Caracal has been confirmed via genetic tests. Previously, the two golden cats – African and Asiatic – were thought to be closest to each other. The Asiatic golden cat is more closely related to the bay cat and the marbled cat

Of the two subspecies, the Caracal aurata celidogaster from Guinea has a more spotted coat, and the Caracal aurata aurata from the Congo jungles is more golden.

African Golden Cat in French, German, Spanish ...

Latin Name
Caracal aurata
French Names
Chat Doré d’Afrique
German Names
Afrikanische Goldkatze
Spanish Names
Gato Dorado Africano
Swahili Names
Paka-msitu

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