Though they are the smallest cat in Africa and one of the smallest cats in the world (weighing in at no more than five pounds), black-footed cats are ALL attitude.
They have all the attitude of a full-sized leopard, compressed and pressurized into a tiny body. In Africa, they are known as the “anthill tigers” (anthills are actually termite mounds found throughout areas of Africa). Though ants are not part of their diet, spiders are, as well as small rodents. Black-footed cats have such a big attitude that the people of Africa also tell tall tales of them taking down a giraffe—clearly a myth, but a good description of their ferocity nonetheless!
Our black-footed cats are no exception. Aza and Ascari (the mom and dad) came to the Zoo with that attitude, and then they passed it on to their kittens Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion. From day one, the kittens were hissing at their keepers, and now they follow us around the exhibit hissing the whole time.
The kittens are now five months old, and Drogon, the biggest, is already the same weight as his mother Aza. Mom and the three kittens together weigh less than twenty pounds, and yet they eat a pound of meat a day between the four of them. Aside from eating and getting into whatever trouble is available, the kittens do like to play just like housecats and will chase grasshoppers, crickets and other things around the exhibit.
Come and check out these little cats in Carnivore Kingdom.
By Ken Pelletier, Cheetah Run Lead Keeper