"They can take on and eat poisonous snakes, like the horned sand viper. "They are quite tough," says Mr Al Qamzi. The pinnae of the ears are triangular, and the ear canal is very wide, giving the cat an enhanced sense of hearing. , In Israel, remains of Egyptian spiny-tailed lizards (Uromastyx aegyptia) were found near burrows used by sand cats. Sand cats are a relatively little known species of feline that are attracting attention due to their small size and similar appearance to 'regular' cats, although they also have enough distinctive features to make them uniquely beautiful. It is up to you to decide if beach sand or desert sand is too dangerous for your cat : Personally I doubt it would be a problem . Sand Cat. Additionally, hearing sensitivity of the sand cat is about 8 decibels greater than that of the domestic cat. This can be a great option for sand cats to receive extra stimulation without the stress of too much handling. This owner suggested that the cat's behavior was 'reptilian'. In Mali's Lake Faguibine area, one individual was shortly sighted by night in 2011. Twitter. Its life expectancy under human care is 10-12 years. It prefers flat or undulating terrain with sparse vegetation of grasses or small bushes; it avoids bare and shifting sand dunes, where little prey is available. Conservation.  In the Tabuk Region, two sand cats were killed by hunters in 2013 and 2016; and one individual was captured by a local farmer in 2014 and kept in a cage.   The species was named after the French General Jean Auguste Margueritte.  They were observed preying on jirds (Meriones), Cairo spiny mouse (Acomys cahirinus), desert lark (Ammomanes deserti), and small reptiles. Many smaller exotic cats have shown tendencies to become stressed around people in zoological environments and this was correlated with reduced reproductive success. The winter coat that the sand cats have, especially those which live in the northern areas, is very long to the extent that it can reach up to 5.1 cm (2 in) long to protect the sand cat from the extremely cold weather. , Since the mid 1960s, sand cats were captured in Pakistan for trade and export to Europe, until the Pakistani government rejected issuing permits in 1974. Sand cats, also known as “sand dune cats,” are desert dwelling felines native to Northern Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. They are labeled 'Least Concern' on the IUCN Red List. In Iran, it occurs in arid flat plains and sandy desert of Abbas'abad Wildlife Reserve, Kavir National Park and Petergan Rural District. This is because of increased human activity in areas where the sand lives together with their domestic animals and animals which are found near humans (e.g.  These burrows were either abandoned by foxes or porcupines, or dug by gerbils or other rodents. Some natural dangers of the sand cats are droughts, domestic dogs or cats, loss of natural vegetation, and disease. It took a while, but finally, the two produced the kitten. The threats to the sand cat are: Degradation and loss of habitat (this is typical for most wild cat species). Digging in the sand, especially with a dog’s nose in the ground, could also cause a bit of sand swallowing. Sand cats have not been domesticated in … In Algeria, they are not considered a threat to poultry, or trapped to sell as pets. 7. No legal protection exists in Egypt, Mali, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Generally found in the western deserts of Arabia in pockets of the Rub Al Khali desert, the Sand Cat is believed to be the only species of the cat family to live in a true desert. Their populations may be threatened by habitat fragmentation. , Of 228 sand cats born in zoos globally by 2007, only 61% of the kittens lived to day 30. As with every animal, there are also different factors that will determine how the cat will be as a pet. , On the Arabian Peninsula, a sand cat skin was discovered by Wilfred Thesiger in 1948 in an oasis of the Rub' al Khali desert. One sand cat owner unfortunately lost their kitten to what they described as a deformity resulting from inbreeding. Stripes extend back from the eyes, and there is a darker area over the back. A faint reddish line runs from the outer corner of each eye across the cheeks. , In Central Asia, the sand cat was known to occur up to the late 1960s in the Karakum Desert from the Ustyurt Plateau in the northwest to the Kopet Dag Mountains in the south, and from the Kyzylkum Desert to the Syr Darya River and the northern border to Afghanistan. So, now that you know that there are many cats in your neighborhood and you have decided to get one as a pet, now you are wondering how dangerous they are.  In Syria, sand cats were sighted and photographed by a camera-trap in a protected area near Palmyra in 2000 and 2001. The auditory bullae and the passages from the external ears to the ear drums are greatly enlarged compared to other small wild cats; the inner parts of the ears are protected from foreign objects by long, closely spaced white hairs.   , The captive population kept in the European Endangered Species Programme is offspring of 18 founders that originated almost exclusively on the Arabian Peninsula. Markings. Like most non-domestic felines, the limited numbers of sand cat owners have described them as being skittish, and this should be fully expected of all captive sand cats. In Morocco, a male sand cat travelled 14.1 km (8.8 mi) in 30 hours. The contents includes what a sand cat looks like, where it lives, it's social life, what it eats, sand cat kittens, sand cats in zoos and dangers to the sand cat.  In July 2012, four sand cat kittens were born at the Ramat Gan Zoo as part of the European Endangered Species Programme. Mysterious crib death, now called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), was once thought to be the fault of the cat.  In the Al-Ain Region, Abu Dhabi, a sand cat was sighted in a gravel plain between dunes in 2003. The sand cat's outer ear is similar to that of a domestic cat, but its ear canal is about twice the size. Nocturnal, the cats spend their days in burrows that they dig or find in sand dunes. Fencing of protected areas threatens the sand cat in Saudi Arabia, where several individuals were found stuck in fences. ♦ The sand cats … Sand cat threats from humans are habitat degradation, human settlement in sand cats' habitats, crops planted by humans, and they may be killed in traps made for foxes and jackals. Several cases of sand cats having been killed by domestic dogs (C. familiaris) were reported in Israel and Iran. Raccoons can spread parasitic roundworms. If the sand in a sandbox contains animal feces, children could end up inadvertently ingesting eggs of the various types of hookworms that can infect cats, dogs or even raccoons. The Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group reviewed the existing information and in 2017 recognized only two subspecies, namely:, Phylogenetic analysis of the nuclear DNA in tissue samples from all Felidae species revealed that the evolutionary radiation of the Felidae began in Asia in the Miocene around 14.45 to 8.38 million years ago.    The threats to the sand cat are: Degradation and loss of habitat (this is typical for most wild cat species). In Uzbekistan, desert habitat is being degraded through the uprooting of shrubs for use as a substrate for silk worm cocoons and for firewood, which lead to an increase of drifting sand.  The sand cat's small-mammal prey-base depends on having adequate vegetation, which may experience large fluctuations due to drought or declines due to desertification and loss of natural vegetation. It is up to you to decide if beach sand or desert sand is too dangerous for your cat : Personally I doubt it would be a problem.  , Habitat degradation and loss of sand dunes due to human activities are considered major threats to sand cat populations in the Western Asia, where uncontrolled hunting and persecution of predators using poisoned baits are common practices. It possibly migrated during the Pleistocene into Africa. Cat nip is very useful for many captive cats both large and small and will likely be enjoyed by sand cats as well. In the early 1970s, sand cats were caught in southwestern Pakistan and exported to zoos worldwide. Animals that cat tolerate human interaction receive many benefits, particularly with positive-reinforcement training methods to stimulate their minds and make it easier for the owner to identify physical changes for health evaluation. These factors include how the animal was raised and if it was socialized, whether or not it was captive-born, genetics, and the age that it comes to live with its owner. Sand cats eat primarily small rodents, occasionally hares, birds, spiders, insects and reptiles. Can sand cats legally be pets and is anyone keeping them? There is a fairly good chance that without educated husbandry methods and depending on where the animals come from, they can die prematurely. After a gestation of 59 to 66 days, they give birth to a litter of two to three kittens.  In 2014 and 2015, four sand cats were trapped alive by local truffle collectors and offered for sale in a wildlife market in Bagdad; their fate is unknown. It's a reasonable assumption to conclude that sand cats should be offered several places to hide so that they can feel as secure as possible. To date, it has been recorded in several disjunct locations in Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Chad and Egypt. Sand cats also have been known to drink little or no water, getting moisture from their food. In spring, the female gives birth to two to three kittens, which become sexually mature around the age of one year.  Previously having been classified as near threatened, it has been downlisted to least concern in 2016, as the estimated size of the global population exceeds the threshold for a threatened category; the extent of decline of the global population is unknown.  Other safe sandbox options include: ... a parasite contained in cat feces). The common tan or beige color is typically caused by a few percent of iron oxides. Sand Cats will also cover large kills with sand and return later to feed. Yes, they can be good pets but you must provide adequate environment for them. Keep outdoor sandboxes covered. This is because of increased human activity in areas where the sand lives together with their domestic animals and animals which are found near humans (e.g. Burrows are about 1.5 m (4.9 ft) deep and dug in slightly slanting ground with usually only a single entrance. These reclusive and solitary cats occur in low densities in the wild and are uncommon for people to sight. , Sand cats have also been caught for the pet trade in the United Arab Emirates and in Iraq. , Sand cats may be at risk of transfer of diseases from domestic and feral cats encroaching desert areas. The common tan or beige color is typically caused by a few percent of iron oxides. As of 2018, one seller has offered the animals for sale for $7000 per cat and up. Sand cats will fall under the umbrella term as a 'wild cat', and most laws ban these animals because of the lethality of 'big cats', despite the presence of smaller species that are not more dangerous … At the time, it was considered possible that sand cats eventually recorded in Afghanistan and Iran might constitute distinct subspecies. In winter, sand cats stay in the sun during the day, but during the hot season, they are crepuscular and nocturnal. It makes loud, high-pitched and short rasping sounds, especially when seeking a mate. The long hair covering the soles of its feet insulates its foot pads against the extremely hot and cold temperatures in deserts. Therefore, interact with the sand cat as much as it will tolerate. In central Iran, remains of Blanford's jerboa (Jaculus blanfordi) and Balochistan gerbil (Gerbillus nanus) were the most frequent prey species found around dens of sand cats. Prey usually consists of around 65% - 75% water, which provides the Sand Cat with enough moisture. The sand cat’s weight ranges from 1.35-3.2 kg (3.0-7.1 lb). Sand Cats will also cover large kills with sand and return later to feed.  It communicates using scent and scratch marks on objects in its range and by urine spraying. foxes). Sand cats should have a large enclosure developed that offers enough space for them to perform all important species-specific behaviors. Sightings in Egypt's rocky Western and Eastern Deserts date to the mid 1980s.   They also have two stripes on their front legs and entrancing eyes, making it obvious they are not ordinary cats. Sand cats may be at risk of transfer of diseases from domestic and feral cats encroaching desert areas. Sand cats are somewhat challenging to maintain in captivity.  The life expectancy of wild sand cats has not been documented. The sand cat usually rests in underground dens during the day and hunts at night. I did find a report published in 1996 in a veterinary journal about a cat that was brought to the vet with lethargy and muscle weakness on two occasions after ingesting litter containing bentonite. It moves 5.4 km (3.4 mi) on average at night in search of small rodents and birds. A sand cat owner may opt to provide several small meals throughout the day instead of 2-3 meals per day as this simulates natural feeding behavior. Sand Cats are gifted with a strong sense of hearing, which enables them to locate preys like rodents, snakes and insects on and below the sand. They grow relatively rapidly, reaching three quarters of the adult size within five months. They weigh 39 to 80 g (1.4 to 2.8 oz) at birth, and have spotted pale yellow or reddish fur. They have short limbs.  Analysis of mitochondrial DNA of all Felidae species indicates a radiation at around 16.76 to 6.46 million years ago. The first sand cat known to science was discovered in the Algerian Sahara and described in 1858. That said, dangerous sandbox sand and silica-free sand are not the only options for your child’s sandbox. In Saudi Arabia, one of 17 wild-caught sand cats was tested positive for feline leukaemia virus. , Its skull is arched in lateral outline with wide zygomatic arches. The most common disease is infectious rhinotracheitis. Share. In the 20th century, the following zoological specimens of sand cats were described: In 1974, F. m. margarita, F. m. thinobia and F. m. scheffeli were temporarily recognized as valid taxa. Most "sand" is primarily silica sand. ♦ The sand cats are threatened with extinction There are several factors that are responsible for threatening the sand cats and making them extinct such as killing them in traps that target jackals and foxes and habitat loss and destruction that is caused by natural and environmental changes and human activity in the places in which the sand cats live. Wear gloves when gardening and during contact with soil or sand because it might be contaminated with cat feces that contain Toxoplasma. Several sand cats were recorded in a protected area in Abu Dhabi's Al Gharbia area between April and December 2015, after an absence of sightings for ten years. Snakes are one of the most poisonous and extremely deadly predators for a Sand Cat because they are very sneaky and super-fast, making it easy to grab or catch the cat in. These are not the only states where the cats are likely legal but anyone truly interested in getting an exotic cat should triple check the laws in their state, county, city, and any other regulating body. Living in a relatively desolate habitat, sand cats are opportunistic feeders out of necessity. The sand cat, the Andean mountain cat and the snow leopard are all rather tame in the presence of people. Katarina Luther, DVM and owner of the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, WI, warns pet parents that even the most basic cat toys can pose a threat because of the “simple but clever anatomy of a cat’s tongue.” “The common sand paper feel of a cat’s tongue is actually many small barbs that face backward, which benefits a cat when grooming,” Luther says. In Israel, the sand cat was thought to be endangered by predation of larger carnivores such as caracal (Caracal caracal) and wolf (Canis lupus). In the late 1960s, sand cats were encountered in the Chagai Hills, an extremely arid area comprising rolling sand dunes and stony plains at an elevation of about 1,200 m (3,900 ft). Silicosis can be a problem where silica is ground under dry conditions producing airborne dust. In the Ténéré Desert, sand cats were observed in the 1980s and between 2008 and 2015. If they caught more than they could eat, they buried the remains for later consumption. , The generation length of the sand cat is about 4 years and 9 months. Sand cats (Felis margarita) kind of look like orange tabbies, but their head also has an unusually wide oval shape. margarita. Their faeces and stomachs contained remains of small mammals, birds, small reptiles, and invertebrates.  They are fearless snake hunters—their prey can include venomous vipers and other snakes. Keep cats indoors. Sand Cats may not look the part, but they are built to handle the extremes of one of the harshest environments on Earth. Zookeepers brought the mom and dad sand cats in three years ago to breed. In western Iraq, sand cats inhabit desert areas in the Najaf, Muthanna and Al Anbar Governorates. Sand cats have a broad head with large eyes and low-set ears. The large, greenish-yellow eyes are ringed with white, and the nose is blackish.  , Oestrus in female sand cats lasts from five to six days, during which they frequently call and scent mark. Various species prey on sand cats, including venomous snakes as well as birds of prey and wolves. Other safe sandbox options include: ... a parasite contained in cat feces). “It’s actually quite dangerous,” he’d tell me later. Due to the fact that sand cats are hard to find, expensive, and the places from which they are sourced are little-known, sand cats should require intermediate to advanced care standards. The magnitude of acoustic input-admittance is about five times higher than of a domestic cat. In 2018, several sand cats were observed resting in brown-necked raven nests built in umbrella thorn acacia trees in the Moroccan Sahara. While these cute cats look quite similar to your average housecat, be warned they are 100% wild animals. 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