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FAQ

Where do wildcats occur in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, the wildcat mainly occurs in the Jura mountains (see Distribution). However, there are currently an increasing number of records hinting at the expansion of the species outside the Jura – occasionally even into the Alps.

How many wildcats are living in Switzerland?

In 2020, the number of wildcats in Switzerland was estimated at ca. 1’100 individuals (DE, FR).

Did the wildcat go extinct in Switzerland? And where do today’s wildcats originate from?

It is unclear, whether the wildcat ever went completely extinct in Switzerland. The population was certainly strongly reduced. The current population most likely originates from immigrants from the French Jura mountains, the Sundgau, and from Burgundy (see also Portrait, section History in Switzerland).

What does a wildcat look like and how can you distinguish it from a domestic cat?

KORA has published an identification aid for the distinction of wildcats from domestic cats based on external characteristics (DE, FR). The identification aid presents images that compare the specific characteristics between wildcats and domestic cats.

Is the wildcat a distinct species?

Yes, the European wildcat (Felis silvestris) is a distinct species. Until recently, the African wildcat (Felis lybica), which also occurs in Asia, was regarded as part of the same species, but not anymore. The domestic cat is descended from the African wildcat. As such, it is not part of the same species as the European wildcat.

Can wildcats and domestic cats breed (hybridisation)?

Although wildcats and domestic cats do not belong to the species, they can mate and produce fertile offspring. This can pose a threat to the wildcat population (see Portrait, section Status & Threats).

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