10 Sand Cat Facts for Kids

My preschool-age daughter recently developed a fascination with sand cats after seeing a video of them on YouTube. These small, frisky wild cats are charismatic and charming, largely because they closely resemble domestic cats. To indulge my daughter's interest in sand cats, I compiled a list of sand cat facts for kids who are interested in studying these fascinating wild animals. Here are ten facts about sand cats worth sharing with your children or students.

1. Sand cats are also known as sand dune cats or Sahara cats.
 Their scientific name, Felis margarita, literally means "pearl cat" in Latin.

2. An average sand cat is a little smaller than a pet cat.
 It is about a foot and a half to two feet in length and weighs between three and seven pounds.
3. Most types of animal have no fur on the soles of their feet. A sand cat's paws are covered in thick fur, which helps to protect them from hot sand so they do not burn themselves.

4. The sand cat is native to the harsh deserts of Africa and Southwest Asia.
 It is the only kind of cat in the world who lives mostly in desert environments.

5. Sand cats have always been somewhat rare, but they are becoming more rare.
Humans are building houses and businesses on land that sand cats need to survive. Stray dogs and cats are also a problem, since they eat sand cats' foods, fight with them, and spread diseases.

6. The sand cat is not yet considered endangered, but "near-threatened."
 This means that, although it needs human support and conservation to survive, it is not likely to become extinct in the immediate future.

7. Unlike most cats, sand cats are very poor climbers.
 Because there are few trees in their desert habitats, they rarely have cause to climb.

8. A sand cat's diet contains mostly rodents, such as mice and rats.
 They also eat snakes, lizards, birds, and insects. They get almost all of their water from the insides of their prey, so they can go months without drinking.

9. Like most kinds of cats, sand cats live alone for most of their lives.
 The only exception is when a mother cat is raising her kittens. They stay with her until they are about 6-8 months old.

10. People are taking measures to make sure that sand cats survive.
 There are now 26 sand cats in zoos in the United States, and scientists across the world are working to breed and release them. With public support, we can stop these amazing animals from becoming extinct.