The black-footed cat aka Felis nigripes is tiny, adorable, and deadly. Weighing between 2-5 lbs, they are the smallest wildcat species in Africa and is 200 times smaller than the average lion. Don't be fooled by their fluffy appearance though: the black-footed cat has one of the highest kill-success rates among their peers! Compared to the 200x larger lions which bring down their prey 20-25% of the time, the black-footed cat boats a 60% success rate ! They consume around 3000 rodents a year, and can catch as many as 10-15 prey in one night. Their excellent hearing and night vision allow them to easily stalk small birds and rodents hiding in tall grasses .
Native to southern African nations, the black-footed cat can be found in the tall grasslands of Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa . The black-footed cat is listed as vulnerable by IUCN Red list with its population in decline in the wild. Due to grasslands being used as grazing spaces for livestock, the black-footed cat has been losing their native habitat and hunting grounds . There have been some successful breeding programs in captivity, including in vitro fertilization using a domestic cat as the surrogate.
Today, we release the genome assembly of the black-footed cat. This is another $1K genome assembly with a contig n50 = 51 Kb and a scaffold n50 = 140 Mb. Check out our Methods page for assembly procedure details. The genome was generated using a sample from the T.C. Hsu Cryo-Zoo at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, originally stored back in 1974! We thank Drs. Asha Multani, Sen Pathak, Richard Behringer, Liesl Nel-Themaat and Arisa Furuta in the Department of Genetics at the MD Anderson Cancer Center for their help with this sample.