Cat in a crook

As we were driving along on a dusty road on a cold, windy day in the Kalahari, Willie’s eye caught this African Wild Cat in the crook of a tree . . .

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Actually, he saw less than this. He saw only a lump of fur. It was only when he stopped that the cat raised its head and you could see the face. I have written before about how difficult it often is to spot wild animals in the Kalahari – see my Take your camera to the bathroom (and other Kalahari safari tips) post. Sometimes all you have initially is a shape or texture that just does not “fit” in the scene you’re looking at.

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We thought at this stage that it was simply a little cat who was looking for shelter from the cold wind and a safe place to sleep. Later in the afternoon, Willie went for another game drive past the same spot and this time he was rewarded with the briefest glimpse of a African Wild Cat kitten poking its head out from underneath its mother.

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The mother cat immediately got wary, and covered up her kitten again.


If looks could kill – Mommy cat is NOT happy at the intrusion on her little family! ©WMB/


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All you can see of the little kitten now is some extra fur underneath the mother cat’s belly. ©WMB/

Even though this was such a brief sighting, it was one of my favourites from our recent trip. As a cat lover, you take what you can get. Although these look like domestic cats, their ability to survive in this harsh and hostile semi-desert environment is amazing.

For another great Kalahari sighting of African Wild Cats and some more info about these amazing little cats, see my post Kalahari: Little Cats. You can also see another African Wild Cat in a tree here.

Also see: Kalahari Series I – 2009 and  Kalahari  Series II – 2011


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Lifestyle/Travel, Nature/Environment, Photography


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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20 Comments on “Cat in a crook”

  1. August 24, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Love this Lisa. How are you doing?! Reading this has made me realize how much I miss interacting with you. Sooooooo much has happened since our early blogging days in 2010. Anyway I hope you’re well 🙂

    • August 27, 2014 at 11:40 am #

      Hi Heather – nice to hear from you! I wasn’t doing great and took a long break from blogging, but I’m back now. 🙂

      • August 27, 2014 at 11:43 am #

        I’m very glad to hear that 🙂

  2. August 24, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    What a beautiful story, Lisa. I am so glad that Willie’s sharp eyes noticed the wild cat although it was so well hidden – and that he managed to take such wonderful pictures. She looks very fierce and protective of her kitten; may the little one survive into adulthood and have her own kittens one day.

    • August 27, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Hi Reggie! Willie is very good at spotting game. His best photos are still to come – these were taken at a distance and in not so good lighting conditions. I agree the cat looks very fierce and protective. I was wondering if the kitten stays up in the tree while its mother is hunting.

  3. August 24, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    What a gorgeous cat (and kitten!).

    • August 27, 2014 at 11:44 am #

      These wild cats are gorgeous, aren’t they? If you look closely at the fur, they’ve got a grey-tinge and texture similar to some Abyssinian cats.

  4. August 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Such an exciting thing to see. Similar happened to us on our last trip to Kgalagadi.

    • August 27, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      Hi there! You’re right – those kind of sighting are very special. I wonder if it is common for African Wild Cats to take their kittens up into trees?

      • August 29, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

        According to my Mammal Ap the African Wild Cat has its kittens in dense vegetation and sometimes uses the burrows of other animals. Seems to me that a hollow in a tree would also be a good place to hide her babies.

  5. Eha
    August 25, 2014 at 3:07 am #

    Motherly love in capitals!! Thank Willie for his patience . . . . beautiful gentle photos!!

    • August 27, 2014 at 11:49 am #

      Hi Eha! 🙂 These African Wild Cats do seem to be very good mothers. We have had other sightings with kittens in which the mothers stayed close while the kittens were playing. It is difficult to get good shots of these cats because they are very shy and nervous. Willie did great given the conditions – distance and bad lighting.

      • Eha
        August 28, 2014 at 8:44 am #

        Don’t think one has to be a price winning photographer to remember oneself and bring such pleasure to others . . . just love that pic of the curious little one . . . giving you a big hug and hoping the sun is shining . . .

  6. August 25, 2014 at 4:29 am #

    Excellent spotting, I’ll bet 99.9% of the people who passed their that day did not notice them!

    • August 27, 2014 at 11:51 am #

      Hi there! I was one of the 99.9%! 🙂 Willie has very sharp eyes for spotting game.

  7. Madoqua
    August 25, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Fabulous wildlife spotting Willie! And what great photos!
    Sadly, we have lots of pest feral wildcats in Australia – they are very good at surviving in almost all habitats and are doing enormous damage to other wildlife populations – nothing here has evolved to survive with cats of any sort. So I am not a cat fan……unless I am in Africa!

    • August 27, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      Hi there! Are you talking about domestic cats which have gone feral? What kind of wildlife do the feral cats go for?

      • Madoqua
        August 27, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

        Yes, their ancestry are/were domestic cats, but they breed fast and spread rapidly. They prey on small marsupial mammals, birds and pretty much anything that they can catch. Our wildlife is not ‘programmed’ to ‘flee first and ask questions later’, so make easy prey for skilled feline hunters. Cats here are a major ecological problem.

  8. September 2, 2015 at 9:05 pm #

    I just finished reading about African Wild Cats (and Black Footed Cats), so I appreciate being able to view these pictures. Looking at this Wild Cat makes me realize why it’s so hard for scientists to decide if domestic cats are a distinct species: they look just like their wild cousins.

    • September 7, 2015 at 5:50 am #

      Hi Josh! 🙂 Yes, the are very similar. With the African Wild Cats looking for those horizontal leg stripes is a very distinctive feature. Their fur also seems much thicker and coarser than that of a domestic cat. The African Wild Cats behave and play very much like domestic cats would. We had a lot of great sightings of these cats during our recent visit to the Kalahari, so I’ll be sharing more stories and photos of them in future posts.

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