The Wildcat (Felis silvestris), sometimes Wild Cat or Wild-cat, is a small felid native to Europe, the western part of Asia, and Africa. It is a hunter of small mammals, birds, and other creatures of a similar size. There are several subspecies distributed in different regions. Sometimes included is the ubiquitous domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus), which has been introduced to every habitable continent and most of the world's larger islands, and has become feral in many of those environments.
In its native environment, the Wildcat is adaptable to a variety of habitat types: savanna, open forest, and steppe. Although domesticated breeds show a great variety of shapes and colours, wild individuals are medium-brown with black stripes, between 45 and 80 cm (18–32 inches) in length, and weigh between 3 and 8 kilograms (6–17.6 pounds). Shoulder height averages about 35 cm (14 in) and tail length is about 30 cm (12 in). The African subspecies tends to be a little smaller and a lighter brown in colour.
The Wildcat is extremely timid. It avoids approaching human settlements. It lives solitarily and holds a territory of about 3 km².
A study by the National Cancer Institute suggests that all current house cats in the world are descendants from a group of self-domesticating Wildcats 10,000 years ago, somewhere in the Near East. The closest relative of the Wildcat is the Sand Cat (Felis margarita).
Older texts separated out many more subspecies: