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The rare and amazing Israeli sand cat

Somewhere along the line, we are related
Somewhere along the line, we are related
Karla Kirby/Public Domain

The beautiful Israeli sand cat is very uncommon and at one time was considered to be extinct. Specifically tailored for desert life, Sand Cats can flourish in some of the world's driest areas beyond, the range of any other feline. Much similar to the Fennec Fox, Sand Cats have huge furry pads between their toes to cushion them and help them move gracefully across the burning, hot sand. The sand cat’s claws are short and blunt, but not very sharp—there is very little opportunity to sharpen them in the desert.

The sand cat is a small, sturdy cat with a relatively long tail and short legs. Their coat is a beautiful, pale sandy color typically without stripes or spots. The upper and lower lips, throat, belly and chin are white. The extra large ears are tawny brown at the base and serve as furnaces to disperse heat. They are set low, displaying a broad flat appearance to the head. This attribute may guard the inner ears from wind-blown sand and assist detection of movements of subterranean prey. A highly developed hearing capacity is vital for locating prey.

The bottom part of the face is whitish, and a pale reddish line runs from the outer corner of each eye, slant6ing down across the cheek. The huge and greenish-yellow eyes are bordered by a white ring, and the bare tip of the nose is black. There are gorgeous blackish bars on the limbs, while the tail has a black tip with two or three dark rings flashing with buff bands. In northern regions, the sand cat's winter coat can be quite long and thick, with hairs reaching up to 2 inches in long.

Its head and body length ranges 15 to 20 inches with a 9.1 to 12.2 in long tail... They weigh between 3.0 to 7.1 pounds.

Notwithstanding these highly exclusive feline characteristics, the Sand Cat has not been able to elude the triple threats of habitat destruction, unintentional trapping by farmers, and predation and sicknesses from domestic animals. Today they are extinct in the wild in Israel and on the decline all through their native range of deserts in both North Africa and Asia.

In early August, 2012, keepers at Zoo Tel Aviv Ramat-Gan were delighted to discover that mother cat, Rotem, had given birth to four good-looking, healthy little kittens. At first there was apprehension that Rotem would be unable to care for so many kittens, but she has proven to be a competent mother for her inquisitive infants.

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