Tag Archives: Wildcat in Spain

Wild cat – Felis sylvestris sylvestris – Gato montes

  • Felis silvestris silvestris, Mostly in the north and centre of the Iberian Peninsula
  • Felis silvestris tartessia is found south of the Duero and Ebro rivers and along the mountainous mediterranean countryside. (It is slighter larger than F.s silvestris)
  • Felis lybica jordansi or the African mountain cat is present only on the island of Mallorca.
  • Protected in most European range countries. It is listed in CITES Appendix II, in Appendix II of the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and in the European Union’s Habitats and Species Directive

The Wild cat – Felis sylvestris sylvestris – Gato montes population in Spain is probably more abundant than we think but due to its elusive nature it is rarely seen and many people often confuse an average tabby cat for this wild cat if its seen up in the hills or away from human habitation. Especially, as its appearance is quite similar to that of a domestic cat but, remember, it has a much stronger build than most domesticated cat breeds. (Felis sylvestris catus).

The wildcat feeds on rabbits, rats, mice, lizards and insects such as grasshoppers, mantis and locust. From time to time, it also preys on small carnivores like martens, polecat, stoat and least weasel as well as very young fawns of red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), and chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra).

Identification of the Wild cat – Felis sylvestris sylvestris – Gato montes

If it looks like a tabby cat and you are up in the mountains away from towns and villages use the following to double check.

  • Yellowish brown color behind the ears.
  • Flat face, yellowish muzzle (there may be some whitish area).
  • Long, thick and drooping whiskers.
  • Greenish or amber eyes.
  • Pair of black stripes on each side of the face.
  • Four or more black stripes from head across to the shoulders.
  • A dorsal black line from nape of neck to base of tail.
  • Long bushy tail with two or three black rings and a large black tip
  • Sometimes a white spot on throat but not always!

There are three types of wildcat in Spain

Felis silvestris silvestris
Felis silvestris silvestris
Felis silvestris silvestris

The most common throughout the European continent and in Spain it usually inhabits the Central, North and Northwest of the Iberian peninsular. Its coat is dark gray with brown tones and with a brindle appearance. Their weight ranges between 3 and 6 kg, with the male being 20% ​​larger than the female.

Felis silvestris tartessia
Felis silvestris tartessia
Felis silvestris tartessia

Prefers to live in warmer areas, especially in the southern part of the Peninsula, taking advantage of the wide expanses of Mediterranean forest. Its size is slightly larger than Felis silvestris silvestris and the coat has much darker tones.

Felis lybica jordansi
Felis lybica jordansi
Felis lybica jordansi

Also known as the African wild cat or the desert cat, Felis lybica jordansi classified as a sub-species of felis silvestris silvestris and in Spain it is only present on the island of Mallorca and in some parts of the cities of Ceuta and Melilla in very small populations. It differs from the European wildcat by inconspicuous stripes on the nape and shoulders, a less sharply defined stripe across the spine and by the slender tail, which is cylindrical, less bushy and more tapering. Ears are normally tipped with a small tuft. Its fur is shorter than of the European wildcat, and it is considerably smaller

Threats to Wild cat – Felis sylvestris sylvestris – Gato montes

  • The population in Portugal and Spain is threatened by accidental hunting kills (they are shot by people mistaking them for feral cats.).
  • Interbreeding with feral and domestic cats.
  • Loss of habitat.

Images sourced from the nice article here in Spanish: https://muchamontana.com/donde-vive-gato-montes-espana/

Iberia Nature Forum

Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum!

Discover the Iberia Nature Forum – Environment, geography, nature, landscape, climate, culture, history, rural tourism and travel.