Updated: Nov 25, 2020
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.
We're no strangers to wild cats here at the DNA Zoo as this is the 8th Felidae species we've released! Check out for example these blog posts on the jaguar and the snow leopard. Stay tuned for more, and subscribe to our mailing list below to keep up to date on the releases!