The World’s Deadliest Cat Also Happens To Be One Of Its Cutest

We learn from an early age that lions are the kings of the jungle and, just below them, are other big cats like tigers, cheetahs, and panthers. They’ve all more than earned their reputations as the most ferocious felines on the planet.

With their innate hunting skills, massive size, impressive strength, and razor-sharp teeth and claws, it’s pretty clear why they’re worthy of our fear. But don’t you dare tell this little guy that…

See, as notorious as big cats may be in the animal kingdom, even they are no match for the deadliest cat of them all—the black-footed cat. Given its fearsome reputation, there’s just one surprising thing about this feline you should know…

You might have heard the saying “big things come in small packages,” but it’s never been more true than when it comes to the black-footed cat, Africa’s smallest feline. Its tiny size hasn’t affected its deadliness, however.

Native to the incredibly arid southwestern portion of Africa, the black-footed cat only ever grows to be around 17 inches in length. But that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the fiercest predators on the entire planet.

While the black-footed cat looks like any other domestic house cat, its upbringing is much different. For example, the habitat it calls home is so dangerous to the average mammal that these cats are forced to grow up much more quickly.

Not only are they typically able to run at just two weeks old and consume solid food at one month, but they’re also completely weaned by the time they reach two months old. Talk about rapid growth!

Raised in dens they dig themselves, their mothers will often move them around quite frequently by the time they’re at least a week old. By four or five months, most kittens are completely independent.

Although not a whole lot is known about the species, one thing is certain: their independence carries on throughout their lives. Researchers have noted that the only time they spend around other cats is when it’s time to breed.

Even though they’re adorable, these cats would make very poor pets. In addition to being listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Animals (IUCA), they’re known to be incredibly unsociable cats.

They are pretty crafty, however. Should they stray too far from their dens, they have no qualms about taking up space in the burrows of aardvarks, porcupines, and springhares. In fact, they’ll even completely renovate it to their liking!

They mostly snack on birds, arachnids, insects, reptiles, and other small mammals. In order to look for food, adult cats will often walk up to 20 miles in a single night in search of their next delicious meal. So what makes these little guys so scary?

It’s the black-footed cat’s unique hunting skills that make them the deadliest cats on the planet. With an astounding 60 percent success rate when hunting, they easily beat out any other wild cats by a large margin. That’s not all, either.

Typically, they utilize the stalk-and-pounce method to snare their prey. But if that doesn’t work for them, they’ll often wait outside of rodent holes and dens and wait for their dinner to emerge. The long-game is sometimes the best method.

Black-footed cats also have an uncanny amount of endurance due to their ability to retain moisture. They’ll drink water when it’s available, but for the most part, they rely on the water from their prey to get them through the dry desert climate.

Researchers have noted that, while waiting outside of rodent burrows, black-footed cats will often close their eyes for long periods of time. They’re not sleeping! Instead, they’re relying on their excellent hearing to alert them when food is headed their way.

It takes a lot of energy to be so deadly. In fact, the black-footed cat requires much more energy than other cats their size, because their hunts are often strenuous and long. Luckily, they’re so skillful that they will often snag as many as 14 animals in the same night!

Black-footed cats are also capable of taking down mammals larger than they are. Their hunting skills are so notorious that one legend among the San people in southern Africa states that a black-footed cat once killed a giraffe by “piercing its jugular.”

Unlike most big cats, the black-footed cat doesn’t particularly enjoy climbing! Because of their short tails and stocky bodies, they’re just not suited for it. Instead, they stick close to the ground.

So while these cats might not look like they’d be all that deadly—they’re really quite cute when you look at them—the truth is hard to ignore. One thing’s for sure: we want to learn more about them!

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