IberiaNature A guide to the natural history of Spain
By Nick Lloyd - Home - Contact

A Wild Cat in Grado, Asturias

I was sent this excellent photo of a wild cat by Luis M. Lafuente, an Asturian photographer here. Luis writes:

The photo was taken up in the Puertos del Maravio, half an hour from where I live, in a "Paisaje Natural protegido". I was walking on the border between Grado, Yernes and Tameza and Teverga at around 1100 metros, according to my altimeter, when I saw the wild cat. It was about twenty metres away. Everything happened in a flash.

More of Luis' great work here soon on iberianature

Wild cats in Spain

The wild cat is similar to the domestic moggy, but it is larger, more corpulent, and (look at the photo) a telltale bushy tail, with black rings and ending in a black point. Its ears are small and its snout is short.

Wild cat are present throughout Spain away from human population in most Atlantic and Mediterranean habitats, except in areas where interbreeding with domestic cats has eliminated them (but not their genes). Hybridistion is the biggest threat facing the wild cat across much of Europe. In Spain, habitat loss is only a marginal problem, though, like so many other animals in Spain , they must have suffered from the collapse of rabbit populations. In most areas they are not however considered threatened, though are very difficult to see (hats off to Luis M). Those who like to do such things have divided the wild cat in Spain into three sub-species:

  • Felis silvestris silvestris , north of Iberian Peninsula
  • Felis silvestris tartessia , south of the Duero and Ebro . Slighter larger than silvestris
  • Felis lybica jordansi or African mountain cat, present on Mallorca .

A mixture of wishful thinking and its greater size often lead people to mistake the wild cat for an Iberian lynx. If you're not in Doñana or the Andujar area, it's not a lynx.

Translation Wild cat: gato montés; gat fer/gat salvatge (Cat); gatu (ast)