The sand cat is also called the sand dune cat and you can also say “the strongest cat on earth”. It may seem shocking for you to read these words as the sand cat is small in its size which makes it difficult to call it strong. In fact, there are other cats which are larger, heavier and stronger than the sand cat, but none of them is capable of living in true deserts and their extreme conditions. The sand cat is the only cat you can find in true deserts which makes it really stronger than other cats which cannot bear such conditions in dry deserts. It may be thought that the sand cat exists in large numbers, but in fact this is not true as it has been classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as near threatened since 2002. It does not matter whether the desert is sandy or stony because in both cases you can find the sand cat living there.
♦ Where does the sand cat live?
The sand cat lives away from water in different types of deserts such as stony and sandy deserts that spread in different areas around the world like Central Asia, Southwest Asia and North Africa. Sand cats like to live in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Niger, Mali and rich deserts in which they can find an abundance of food and they keep away from the deserts that have little amount of food. Sand cats can live for a long time without drinking water since they get the needed amount of water for their bodies through their food.
♦ What are the characteristics of the sand cat?
The sand cat has short legs and its feet are thickly furred to be able to adapt to the surrounding conditions in true deserts and to fight the extremely cold and hot temperatures. Its tail is relatively long and there are markings on the sand cat’s body but these markings vary from one cat to another. There are some cats that have stripes and spots on their bodies, while there are others that do not have any of them or they exist but are faint. There are black markings or rings on the tail in addition to black bars on the legs.
The sand cat’s length ranges from 39-52 cm (15-20 in) long excluding its tail that ranges from 23.2-31 cm (9.1-12.2 in) long. The sand cat’s weight ranges from 1.35-3.2 kg (3.0-7.1 lb). 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.
♦ 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. The lack of food is also another reason that threatens sand cats and reduces their number.