Scottish wildcat kittens born

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TWO T30 wild cat kittens 04 no Credit Jan Morselitters of Scottish wildcat kittens have been born at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, writes senior reporter Sandy Neil.

These ‘Highland tigers’, one of the rarest cat species in the world, are facing extinction due to hybridisation with domestic and feral cats, habitat loss and accidental persecution.

However, as a result of coordinated conservation efforts and a conservation breeding programme for eventual release, the species has a fighting chance of survival.

Although similar to domestic tabby cats, the two species are not to be confused. Domestic cats originate from African wildcats, while the Scottish wildcat is a unique and isolated sub-population of the European wildcat, which has been separated from them since the end of the last ice age over 9,000 years ago.

With their big, bushy, black-ringed tail and tenacious behaviour it is no surprise that the Scottish wildcat was used historically in many Highland clan crests.

Wildcats prefer to live alone but will come together for a short period for breeding, normally giving birth to two or three kittens, which the mother will protect fiercely.