Scottish Wildcat Day is celebrated every August 8 in the U.K. The purpose of this day is to bring attention to this critically endangered species in the U.K. It is estimated that there are between 1,000 to 4,000 Scottish Wildcats, of which about 400 cats meet the morphological and genetic criteria of a wildcat. These cats used to live across Britain, but are now limited to north and east Scotland. The primary threats are habitat loss, hunting, and hybridization with domestic cats. It is an opportunity to raise awareness about this endangered species.
History of Scottish Wildcat Day
The Scottish wildcat is the only relative member of the cat family living in the U.K. today. It is considered to be a descendant of the continental European wildcat, which colonized Britain after the last Ice Age (7,000 to 9,000 years ago). The earliest wildcat fossil remains were found in Berkshire. After the Ice Age, the wildcat was found across mainland Britain and some of the Inner Hebrides, which include the Isle of Skye and Bute. However, due to Britain’s deforestation, the wildcat disappeared from much of its range.
The wild cat was already restricted to northern England, Wales (where it was scarce), and Scotland by 1800. Fifty years later, it was close to disappearing from west-central Wales and was just south of the border in Northumberland. It is only in Scotland that wildcats survived in 1880. Its range had further contracted and was restricted to the northwest of the Scottish Highlands by 1915.
Scottish wildcat initially declined partly because of habitat loss, particularly the loss of forests due to deforestation, and also as a result of being hunted and persecuted for its fur. From the mid-nineteenth century, the rate of decline of wildcats increased due to the development of sporting estates in Scotland because the wildcat was shot as part of the game bird predator control carried out on many estates. Now, the Scottish wildcat is found only in northern Scotland.
Scottish Wildcat Day timeline
The Wildcats are already restricted to northern England, Wales, and Scotland.
Wildcats almost disappear from west-central Wales and are just south of the border in Northumberland.
In the entire U.K., Wildcats survive only in Scotland.
Their range further contracts and is restricted to the northwest of the Scottish Highlands.
Scottish Wildcat Day FAQs
Are there any pure Scottish wildcats left?
It is estimated that less than 100 Scottish Wildcats remain in the wild.
Can Scottish wildcats breed with domestic cats?
Yes, they can. They produce fertile hybrids, some of which are pure black.
Do wildcats swim?
It depends on where they are located. Those living in warmer climates like water to cool off and are generally good swimmers.
How to Observe Scottish Wildcat Day
The best way to celebrate the day is by protecting the Wildcat. To do so, you can contact an organization in charge of protecting these animals and offer yourself as a volunteer.
Share a post on Instagram or maybe tell a friend or relative the reasons why wildcats are disappearing. You can use the hashtag #ScottishWildcatDay.
Donate to conservatories
Identify an organization that is diligently caring for wildcats and raising awareness for their conservation. Give cash to help keep these conservation efforts going.
5 Intriguing Facts About Wildcats
They require open patches of habitat
These open patches of habitat can be pastures or riparian areas for hunting.
They differ from domestic cats
Wildcats are typically larger, with a shorter intestinal length, longer limb bones, and a more robust skull.
They are carnivores
They have the binocular vision and depth perception perfect for hunting, and retractable claws, sharp teeth, and strong jaw muscles to kill their prey.
They have differing maturity
Males reach sexual maturity at 10 months and females at 12 months with a gestation period of 63 – 68 days.
They are multiple birthers
The average number of kittens in a wildcat litter is three or four and up to a maximum of eight kittens.
Why Scottish Wildcat Day is Important
It is a day to raise awareness about endangered species
This day could be an opportunity to raise awareness about endangered species, which not only include wildcats. Most species are endangered, such as polar bears, mountain gorillas, red pandas, sea lions, etc.
Wildcats are part of the wildlife
Every animal is important to our ecosystem and thus, to our planet. We must take care of animals regardless of their species.
It is a day to help a conservation organization
This day is also an opportunity for wildcat conservation organizations to raise funds. We should help these organizations as they lack funds to protect animals.
Scottish Wildcat Day dates