Once widespread across the whole of Europe, persecution and habitat loss over the last centuries has led to severely fragmented and declined populations. Thankfully it seems they are spreading again and numbers are increasing. Romania and Eastern Europe has provided a refuge for this species, as human disturbance and deforestation, until recently have not posed much of a problem.

Solitary, well camouflaged and usually hunting at dawn and dusk, the wild cat is an incredibly elusive animal. The males can have huge territories, sometimes travelling over 10km per night. When it comes to the breeding season, females spray urine on trees and wail to catch the attention of one of these travelling males.

They are ferocious hunters, with excellent night vision, separately moving ears and the ability to detect movement through their whiskers and paws. They very effectively control populations of small mammals such as mice, rats and hares, as well as opportunistically taking lizards, frogs, small birds and even fish.

Deforestation and simplification of the landscape, such as land clearance and destruction of hedgerows, fragments populations and poses a significant threat to the wildcat. Since the popularisation of keeping pet cats, there exists the new threat of hybridisation and increased disease transmission with domestic cat breeds. In Transylvania, a study has shown that this hybridisation is rare and thankfully the genetic pool of the wildcat here has remained healthy.

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