The Scottish wildcat isn’t that much larger than the average domestic cat. They are similar in size to a Maine coon cat, but they do not have the long hair of the Maine coon.
Scottish wildcats have long roamed the forests of Scotland. However, the number of Scottish wildcats in the wild is shrinking rapidly. This animal is considered to be the most critically endangered wildcat in the world. Estimates are that there are only around 200 Scottish wildcats left in the wild areas of Scotland. Those who work closely in monitoring these animals believe that the number is much less. Some believe that there are actually fewer than 100.
The government of Scotland has launched a campaign to save all the animals in Scotland that are native to the area. So far, the efforts have paid off for many species. One example is the pine marten whose numbers are increasing due to conservation efforts.
Efforts are underway to save the Scottish wildcat from extinction. The efforts center around finding breeding pairs. Once breeding pairs are found and placed together, scientists wait for the critical period from January to March to come. These are the months when Scottish wildcats breed.
So far, there have been a number of kits born as a result of the conservation program’s efforts. The goal is to release the kits when they are grown back into the wild.
There is a problem facing the Scottish wildcat that is going to be difficult to overcome. Scottish wildcats are become hybridized with domestic cats. Those who are working on the breeding and reintroduction program will only use cats that have at least 75 percent Scottish wildcat DNA.
In order to keep the wildcats from becoming more and more hybridized, conservation groups are taking several measures. Those who live near Scottish wildcat habitats are being paid to have their domestic cats neutered. Feral cats in the area are being captured, neutered and then released.
A major problem facing the reintroduction of the Scottish wildcats is finding suitable habitat. Much of the land in Scotland has been deforested and turned into pasture and agricultural land. It is hoped that the Scottish wildcats when reintroduced can adapt to areas on the edge of farm and pasture land that still bears some wild land characteristics.