The European wildcat is the UK’s only surviving native felid.

Previously found throughout England, Scotland and Wales, European wildcats are now only found in the Scottish Highlands where the remaining population is listed as Critically Endangered. Without conservation action, including the reintroduction of wildcats to areas of their historic native range outside of Scotland, the species risks extinction in the UK. Consequently, investigations into the social and ecological feasibility of reintroduction and the identification of suitable release areas are underway. 

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Animal facts

Key facts about the European wildcat

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I’m found in Europe

Wildcats have a wide but fragmented distribution, from Scotland in the north to Turkey in the south.

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I live in broadleaf woodland

Wildcats are very adaptable and will live in a variety of habitats including woodland edges, agricultural land and riverbanks. 

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My favourite food is rabbit

However, where rabbits aren’t available wildcats are also specialists at hunting small mammals such as rats, mice and voles. 




years extinct in Wales


estimated UK wildcat population

What we're doing to help European wildcats


Bringing back wildcats

The last record of the European wildcat or 'cath wyllt' in Wales is not clear. Some records suggest the last wildcat was killed in the 1860s and others reference wildcats until much later into the 19th century.
What we're doing to help
Alongside our partners, we are working to assess the feasibility of restoring wildcats to Wales using a mix of social and ecological research as well as considering practical factors. Only once these criteria have been evaluated and satisfied will their reintroduction proceed. From there we are developing robust systems for monitoring and evaluating our release methods and the establishment of wildcats in the landscape.

Understanding wildcat behaviour

Much of our work is researching wildcat behaviour and how we can apply this to the design of a reintroduction. We have a good understanding of wildcats' diet and habitat use, but their reproduction, early development, and the drivers of hybridisation are not yet fully understood. Additionally, our knowledge of wildcat behaviour in a reintroduced population is limited.
What we're doing to help
All these factors are important to reintroduction outcomes and therefore are the focus of our work pre-release and during pilot releases, should the programme reach that stage. This research is a collaborative effort with our partners at the Wildwood Trust and Vincent Wildlife Trust.

Finding suitable release areas

To successfully reintroduce European wildcats, we need to find suitable habitats for them to live in.
What we're doing to help
Finding sites to support a potential wildcat reintroduction involves investigating prey availability, competition and threats, the extent and connectedness of habitat, and the potential for human disturbance. This calls for monitoring techniques including camera traps, small mammal surveys and bioacoustic monitoring.

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