Pat Quillen of S.O.S. Care sent five Sand Cats to Big Cat Rescue on October 23, 2000. They were born to Pebbles and Papoose who were the offspring of wild caught Sand Cats sent here during Desert Storm for their protection. Most of the known origin Sand Cats in the U.S. are from these imported Founders who produced well at S.O.S. Care.
They have been sent here as genetic back up and will not be bred at Big Cat Rescue unless their offspring with cats unrelated to this group can be returned to the wild. We will not breed for life in cages.
Sand cats are small desert dwelling cats native to northern Africa and the Middle East.
They are frequent victims of the illegal pet trade and during the Gulf War their livelihood and habitats were greatly affected. In an effort to preserve the species, the Saudi government sent eight of these cats to S.O.S. Care, a California-based international cat-conservation organization.
Genie the Sand Cat
Genie and four litter mates, descendants of the original group, were sent to Big Cat Rescue as a genetic back-up in case of disaster at S.O.S. Care. Genie lives in a large enclosure with thick foliage.
She is quite shy and the plants in her Cat.a.tat provide lots of spaces for her to conceal herself.
Genie also loves to sleep inside her elevated dens, which are merely window flower boxes, that are hung on the walls of her enclosure. Keepers can tell when she is in one of these dens because her tail will be peeking out over the top of the pot.
In her old age Genie became a very finicky eater, so she was fed 2-3 times a day, but when she stopped eating she was brought into the hospital for diagnostics and closer, more intensive care. Nothing could reverse the ravages of time, and she was the oldest sandcat we ever knew. Genie was euthanized after suffering several seizures, to put her out of her misery. You can read tributes to Genie the SandCat here: https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/genie-sandcat
This video is about Genie’s friend Canyon the Sand Cat
MORE Pages about & Photos of Genie, the tiny Sand cat:
* Today at Big Cat Rescue – October 3, 2014 – Genie goes to the vet. There are a LOT of photos on this page. (nothing gross). There is a really cool photo of the bottom of Genie’s tiny paw so you can see how it is covered with hair and how it compars in size to the end of a human finger. Check it out: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-oct-3-2014/
Common Name: Sand Cat Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata) Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Felidae Genus: Felinae (Felis) Species: margarita Misc: This is one of the more difficult cats to study in the wild. Their foot coverings allow them to walk on sand without sinking, leaving their footprints nearly invisible. They have learned to crouch down and shut their eyes when a light is shone on them, which prevents the light from reflecting their eyes for tracking. That combined with their protective coat color makes them blend right into their habitat. They also bury all of their excrement making it impossible to find and analyze so their diet can be studied.
Subspecies: F.m margarita – The Sahara F.m. thinobia – Turkestan
F.m. scheffeli – Pakistan
F.m. harrisoni – Arabia, Jordan (Pictured on both pages)
Size and Appearance: Sand Cats weigh in at 4-8 pounds and reach lengths of 29-36 inches, and heights of 10-12 inches. It has a dense soft fur that is a pale sand or gray color above and paler underneath. It has large ears and a broad head, and a reddish streak that runs from its eyes across its cheeks. The ears are reddish-brown and black-tipped. There are faint stripes running down the flanks and black bands running around the tops of the front legs. The tail has 2-3 black rings towards its black tip. The feet are covered with a thick layer of wiry black hair, which insulates the footpads against extremes of heat and cold, and allows for easier movement through the sand. They are prolific diggers, and their claws are not very sharp for lack of places to sharpen them in the desert.
Habitat: Sandy and stony deserts.
Distribution: From the Sahara through the Middle East to Turkestan.
Reproduction and Offspring: These cats have been reported to have 2 litters per year in parts of their territory in both March-April, and again in October. Gestation is 59-63 days, after which females produce a litter of 2-4 kittens. At birth, the newborns weigh approximately 1.5-2 ounces, and will gain about 12 grams per day. Their eyes will normally be open by the 14th day, and they will begin to walk by the 21st day. They begin to take solid food at 5 weeks and become independent by 3-4 months. They reach sexual maturity around 10-12 months.
In captivity, they have lived up to 13 years, but have a high juvenile mortality rate (41%).
Social System and Communication: Solitary.
Because their populations are so few, they have a loud mating call, which resembles the barking of a small dog. Their other vocalizations include meowing, growling, hissing, spitting, screaming and purring. Hear our purrs, hisses, snarls, calls, and growl sounds HERE
Hunting and Diet: Primarily nocturnal, they hunt by digging. Their highly developed hearing allows the to locate prey which is not only sparsely distributed, but underground as well. Their primary diet consists of 3 species of gerbils. It also includes birds, reptiles and arthropods. They are also known for being snake hunters, which they kill with a rapid blow to the head that stuns, and then administer the death bite to the neck. Sand Cats will also cover large kills with sand and return later to feed.
Principal Threats: Habitat degradation is the major threat to the sand cat. Vulnerable arid ecosystems are being rapidly degraded by human settlement and activity, especially livestock grazing (Allan and Warren 1993, Al-Sharhan et al. 2003). The sand cat’s small mammal prey base depends on having adequate vegetation, and may experience large fluctuations due to drought (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002), or declines due to desertification and loss of natural vegetation.
Other localized threats include the introduction of feral and domestic dogs and cats, creating direct competition and through predation and disease transmission (Nowell and Jackson 1996). They also may be killed in traps laid out by inhabitants of oases targeting foxes and jackals or in retaliation for killing their chickens (De Smet 1989; Dragesco-Joffé 1993). There are occasional reports of animals shot in south-east Arabia (M. Strauss pers. comm.)
Status: CITES: Appendix II (except F.m. scheffeli which is on Appendix I). IUCN: Insufficiently known (F.m. scheffeli is classified Endangered).
Felid TAG recommendation: Sand cat (Felis margarita). Sand cats have a long history of living in North American zoos, but have been poorly managed. Two populations exist, one that is hybridized and another derived from an Israeli population. The TAG recommends an SSP with a target population of 80 individuals, all to consist of F. m. harrisoni, the race from the Arabian peninsula. The American SSP and European EEP have joined forces in their breeding plans as neither continent has enough diversity to sustain their populations.
How rare is this cat? The International Species Information Service lists 116 worldwide, with 36 being in the U.S.
Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book.
It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that our beloved sandcat Canyon has died. On December 5th, volunteers reported that he seemed to be having a seizure. Jamie and Carole were immediately called to the scene where staff members were already gathering nets and blankets. Jamie saw that Canyon was on his side, and didn’t appear to be breathing so she ran into his enclosure and began giving him chest compressions. When Carole went to give breaths, she found a chicken neck obstructing his airway and pulled it out.
For about 6-10 minutes Jamie gave Canyon CPR while our vet Dr. Justin Boorstein injected Epinephrine into his heart. CRP continued for another 7-9 minutes, but Canyon was gone.
We have tight control on keys and keeper access to protect the public and the cats. Our policies don’t allow anyone to rush in with Canyon without Jamie or Carole present, because no one would have known that he was choking, rather than having a seizure, until they had their fingers in his mouth.
If there is any silver lining to this, it is that Canyon left us in the sand he loved so much, doing the one thing he loved better than anything else — chomping on a chicken neck. Canyon was 14. We will all miss this feisty little guy so much.
His tribute page is here: https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/canyon
Pat Quillen of S.O.S. Care sent five Sand Cats to Big Cat Rescue on October 23, 2000. They were born to Pebbles and Papoose who were the offspring of wild caught Sand Cats sent here during Desert Storm for their protection. Most of the known origin Sand Cats in the U.S. are from these imported Founders who produced well at S.O.S. Care. They have been sent here as genetic back up and will not be bred at Big Cat Rescue unless their offspring with cats unrelated to this group can be returned to the wild. We will not breed for life in cages.
Sand cats are small desert dwelling cats native to northern Africa and the Middle East. They are frequent victims of the illegal pet trade and during the Gulf War their livelihood and habitats were greatly affected. In an effort to preserve the species, the Saudi government sent eight of these cats to S.O.S. Care, a California-based international cat-conservation organization. Canyon and four littermates, descendants of the original group, were sent to Big Cat Rescue as a genetic back-up in case of disaster at S.O.S. Care.
Canyon has a very tall Cat.a.tat that encloses a tree in the center. He loves to climb and spend time in his tree, so keepers placed a den barrel high up in its branches. Canyon can almost always be found sleeping in this secluded space. Canyon lives across the pathway from Cameron the lion, however, he does not seem intimidated by his large neighbor. What he lacks in size he makes up for with boldness. Canyon also loves feeding time and this super tiny cat is a real spitfire when food is involved. When he hears the feeding carts approaching his area he sparks to life and rushes into his feeding lockout to await his meal.
Sand Cats have very sensitive digestive tracts and in the wild would eat prey like lizards and gerbils which have very small flexible bones. Since these little cats would not be able to digest the larger bones in the chicken, that all of the other cats at the sanctuary get, the closest and most economical food source are baby chicks. These arrive frozen from a wholesaler and are thawed before they are given to the Sand Cats. The Sand Cats are also fed a special blended ground diet that has organ meat and vitamins.
Este es uno de los gatos más difíciles de estudiar en la naturaleza. Sus patas les permiten caminar sobre la arena sin hundirse, dejando sus huellas casi invisibles. Ellos han aprendido a agacharse y cerrar sus ojos cuando se proyecta una luz sobre ellos, lo que impide que haya una reflexión en sus ojos y sea imposible su seguimiento. Eso, combinado con el color de su capa protectora hace que se confundan e incorporen directamente con el medio que los rodea y hábitat. También entierran todos sus excrementos por lo que es imposible de encontrarlos y analizarlos para estudiar en que consiste su dieta.
Los gatos de arena pesan entre 2 y 4 kilos y alcanzan una longitud de 3 cuartos de metro a casi un metro, y un altura de aproximadamente 25 a 30 centímetros. Tienen una piel suave densa que es color de arena un tanto pálido o de color gris en la parte superior y más pálido en la parte inferior. Tienen orejas grandes y una cabeza ancha, y una raya de color rojizo que se extiende desde sus ojos a través de sus mejillas.
Las orejas son de color marrón rojizo y con puntas negras. Tienen rayas tenues que recorren por los flancos y bandas negras corriendo por la parte superior de las patas delanteras. La cola tiene 2 o 3 anillos negros y tienen la punta de color negro. Las patas están cubiertas con una gruesa capa de pelo negro enjuto, que aísla la parte inferior de sus piel de la calor o fríos extremos, y permite un movimiento más fácil a través de la arena. Son cavadores prolíficos, y sus garras no son muy agudas por falta de lugares para afinarlas en el desierto.
Los Gatos de Arena viven en los desiertos arenosos y pedregosos del Sahara y a través del Medio Oriente hasta el Turquestán.
Los Gatos de arena han reportado el tener 2 camadas por año en algunas partes de su territorio, tanto entre marzo y abril, y de nuevo en octubre. La gestación es de 59 a 63 días, después de lo cual las hembras producen una camada de gatitos de 2 a 4. Al nacer, los recién nacidos pesan aproximadamente 1 onza y media a 2 oz, y ganaran unos 12 gramos por día. Sus ojos se abrirán de forma normal alrededor del día 14, y van a empezar a caminar por el día 21. Estos cachorros comienzan a comer alimentos sólidos a las 5 semanas y alcanzan su independencia entre los 3 y 4 meses. Alcanzan la madurez sexual alrededor de los 10 a 12 meses.
En cautiverio, han vivido hasta 13 años, pero tienen una alta tasa de mortalidad juvenil de alrededor de 41 %.
Los Gatos de arena son Solitario por naturaleza.
Debido a que su población es tan pequeña, ellos tienen un grito de llamada para el apareamiento, que se asemeja a los ladridos de un perro pequeño. Sus otras vocalizaciones incluyen maullidos, gruñidos, silbidos, escupir, gritar y ronronear.
Los Gatos de arena son principalmente nocturnos y cazan por la excavación. Su oído muy desarrollado y les permite localizar a sus presas que no sólo se distribuyen escasamente, sino que además se encuentran bajo tierra. Su dieta consiste en 3 especies de jerbos.
También incluye aves, reptiles y artrópodos.
Los gatos de arena también son conocidos por ser los cazadores de serpientes, que matan con un golpe rápido en la cabeza que aturde, y luego administran la mordedura de la muerte en el cuello. Los gatos de arena cubrirán también sus presas muertas grandes con arena y volverán más tarde para alimentar de ellos.
Este es uno de los únicos gatos que no se enfrentan a la degradación del hábitat, siendo su hábitat preferido el desierto. Debido a la creencia religiosa sobre este gato que fue el compañero del profeta Mahoma, no son perseguidos como asaltantes de ganado cuando matan a las gallinas. Lastimosamente, este pequeño gato todavía se enfrenta a la amenaza de ser cazado para el comercio de mascotas, o de ser cazados por deporte, mientras están recostados tomando un poco de sol.