What is it about?

Wild cats, from majestic lions to small black-footed cats, face threats like habitat loss and genetic issues. While big cats get more attention, smaller ones, like the black-footed cat, are in trouble. We studied their genes and found they've adapted for night hunting. But, inbreeding due to habitat loss increases the risk of a deadly disease. Our work highlights the urgent need to study and protect small wild cats globally for effective conservation.

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Why is it important?

Our research on the black-footed cat stands out due to its timely focus on the urgent threats faced by small wild cats. We've unveiled the unique genetic adaptations of these small felids, shedding light on their nocturnal behavior and high metabolic rates. The identification of inbreeding issues and the associated risk of a deadly disease adds a critical layer to our understanding. This study contributes a comprehensive account of the black-footed cat's evolutionary history, emphasizing the need for global genomic investigations to guide effective conservation. By addressing immediate challenges, our work aims to inspire broader readership and foster impactful conservation actions for small felids worldwide.


As an advocate for wildlife conservation, this research on the black-footed cat resonates deeply with me. It underscores the critical issues facing small wild cats, often overshadowed by their larger counterparts. The revelation of genetic adaptations for nocturnal hunting and the alarming inbreeding trends amplifies the urgency for conservation efforts. The association of deleterious genes with a life-threatening disease emphasizes the delicate balance these species face. This study is a poignant call to action, urging global attention to safeguard the evolutionary history of small felids and address imminent threats to their survival. Finally, we express our gratitude to Dr. Alexander Sliwa for providing the photograph of the black-footed cat.

Gang Li

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The genome of the black-footed cat: Revealing a rich natural history and urgent conservation priorities for small felids, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 2024, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2310763120.
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