European Wildcat Population Structure F. Mattucci et al. The European wildcat Felis silvestris silvestris, through its interactions with its close relative the domestic cat Felis silvestris catus, represents a valuable model for the study of these two issues and their interactions. The European wildcat is listed in Annex IV of the EU Habitats Directive, and the UK conservation status is assessed as bad/declining (Article 17 Report) with a current population estimate for wildcats in Scotland of only 200 animals. European wildcat populations are often fragmented and decreasing. considered relatively abundant.

Estimated number of wildcats. Although they tend to look bigger than African wildcats because of their thick winter fur, an extensive series of weight measurements have shown that they are not.

This population is estimated to comprise between 1,000 and 4,000 individuals, of which about 400 cats are thought to meet the morphological and genetic criteria of a wildcat.

Description The forest wildcats of Europe and western Russia are grey-brown in coat color, with bushy, blunt-ended tails and a well-defined pattern of black stripes.

Spain and Portugal host the largest population of this species. One of the main threats to the European wildcat is hybridisation with domestic cats which can lead to the loss of genetic variation or specific adaptations.

1994). The total number of domestic cats is estimated to be higher by several orders …

It runs until 2020.

may have expanded …

Considering the emblematic case of the Scottish European wildcat population, it is important to understand the factors that affect the frequency of hybridisation. Population decreasing.


Domestic cats have a worldwide distribution and the number of pet cats exceeds 65 million in European countries with wildcat presence (EPFI 2017). A study in the southern regions of the Netherlands (2016) showed that the European Wildcat population there is increasing.

The European wildcat is both threatened by hybridization and infectious diseases. The Scottish wildcat is a European wildcat population in Scotland.

Belgium. Italy currently hosts at least three geographically distinct populations of the European wildcat (Fig. The first Dutch wildcats were sporadically seen in 2002 and 2006 but since 2012 people have recorded wildcats more often.

wildcat populations in Europe and Africa (Nowell & Jackson 1996). They are protected by law but often killed due to wrong identification as feral cats. The European wildcat inhabits parts of Europe, adjoining Russia and into central Asia.

expanding its range to the north and west.

European Russia . France.

Over the years, the wildcat population has been drastically falling in the European countries where they are found. European wildcat populations to coastal and mountain southernmost refugia, where rare and scattered fossils have been found in paleontological and archeological sites (Ragni et al. The European wildcat avoids areas of human habitation and prefers to live in the mixed and broad-leaved forested areas.

Such hybrids are found almost throughout its entire range and there may be very few genetically pure European wildcat populations remaining.

The fortification of this urban site, increasing population density, ... (uncastrated) male domestic cat, but smaller than a European wildcat (Supplementary Table 2) 23, 39, 40.

thought to be large and relatively stable. Trend and remarks. However, in Germany, populations have been expanding in the last years.