Most successful feline predator
Black-footed cat, Felis nigripes
60 percentage
Not Applicable ()

Endemic to the countries of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana in southern Africa, observations of the black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) have revealed that up to 60% of its hunts result in a kill. Black-footed cats are one of the world’s smallest wild felines. An adult has a typical head-and-body length between 37 and 52 centimetres (1 foot 2 inches–1 foot 8 inches) – the tail adds an extra 14–20 centimetres (5.5–7.8-inches) for the total length – and weighs in the range of 1–2.5 kilograms (2 pounds 3 ounces–5 pounds 8 ounces). The species is strictly nocturnal and has a diverse diet including small mammals such as gerbils and hares, birds such as chats and larks (and their eggs), reptiles such as snakes and geckos and invertebrates such as grasshoppers, moths and scorpions. On an average night, an adult typically kills 10–14 rodents or small birds (i.e., one vertebrate every 50 minutes), which equates to around 20% of the cat’s total body weight. One exceptional male was seen catching 12 rodents in just three-and-a-half hours.

By comparison, lions (Panthera leo) are only successful in around 20% of their hunts (when working individually) or 30% when working as a group.

The most successful predator overall is the African painted wolf or hunting dog (Lycaon pictus), which has a success rate as high as 85% during its hunts. It should be noted that painted wolves most commonly hunt as a pack in contrast to the solitary black-footed cat.

The black-footed cat observations from which this hunting data was taken were documented in a paper by Dr Gea Olbricht and Dr Alexander Sliwa published in the journal International Zoo Yearbook in January 1997.