This sweet-looking kitty is one of Africa's deadliest cats

January 18, 2018, 9:25 a.m.
A black-footed cat in the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois.
Photo: Jonathan Kriz/Wikimedia Commons

Don't make the mistake of letting this creature's adorableness fool you: The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) of southern Africa is among the deadliest cats on Earth.

With males barely reaching sizes bigger than 43 centimeters and females maxing out at around 37 centimeters, black-footed cats may not look like they're ruthless killers, but they will take down many small rodents or birds a night, sometimes tracking their prey for over 20 miles.

As they're both nocturnal and generally loners, black-footed cats can be difficult to track, but the BBC's "Big Cats" series took advantage of radio-collared female named Gyra to get a look at how these crafty cats hunt.

The black-footed cat is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, with its biggest threats being poison and traps set for other predators. A loss of habitat hasn't helped, either. Zoos breed the cats to help sustain their numbers, and hunting the species is prohibited in Botswana and South Africa.

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