Profelis – African golden cat

There is still a lot to learn about this species; not sure we will have the time to do so before it disappears

An elusive and relatively understudied feline that inhabits the dense, equatorial forests of West and Central Africa. This medium-sized wild cat is known for its reclusive nature, rarely seen by humans, which has led to a significant gap in our understanding of its behavior, ecology, and overall lifestyle. Despite its secretive ways, the African Golden Cat plays a crucial role in the biodiversity of its habitat, serving as an indicator of ecological health.

Physically, the African Golden Cat is roughly twice the size of an average domestic cat, showcasing a robust and muscular build that supports its arboreal (tree-dwelling) tendencies. Its legs, though relatively short, are powerfully built, enabling the cat to navigate the complex forest canopy with ease. One of the most striking features of this species is its coat, which exhibits a remarkable range of colors, from bright orange to reddish-brown, and even includes silver-gray and melanistic (all-black) individuals.

African Golden Cats lead solitary lives, only seeking out company during the mating season. Their diet is diverse, preying on a variety of mid-sized mammals such as duikers, rodents, small birds, and occasionally monkeys and tree hyraxes. This diet reflects the cat’s role as a versatile predator within its ecosystem, capable of hunting both on the ground and in trees.

Recent observations have challenged the notion that African Golden Cats are strictly nocturnal. Studies have revealed that these cats are, in fact, cathemeral, meaning they can be active at any time of the day or night. This flexibility in activity patterns may be an adaptation to prey availability and the avoidance of competition with other predators.

The African Golden Cat faces numerous threats, primarily from habitat destruction due to deforestation for logging and agricultural expansion. Additionally, they are vulnerable to poaching for their fur and body parts, which are used in traditional medicine and as symbols of status.