Friday Catblogging: The Corsican ‘Cat-Fox’

For years, scientists have wondered if striped cats on Corsica were a distinct species:

Turns out, they are:

The elusive striped “cat-fox” familiar mostly to Corsican shepherds and as a source of intrigue to scientists, is indeed its own species specific to the French Mediterranean island, the French office for Biodiversity (OFB) announced Thursday.

New genetic analysis has “revealed a unique genetic strain to the wild cats” found in the remote forest undergrowth of northern Corsica, it confirmed.

Genetic sampling clearly distinguishes the ring-tailed Corsican cat-foxes from mainland forest felines and domestic cats, said the OFB in a statement.

While resembling house cats in some ways, the cat-fox earned its name from its length—measuring 90 centimeters (35 inches) from head to tail—and its distinct black-tipped, ringed tail.

Other distinguishing features include the stripes on the front legs, “very dark” hind legs, and a russet stomach. The dense, silky coat is a natural repellent for fleas, ticks and lice.


But it has long been part of local folklore.

“The cat-fox is part of our shepherd mythology,” Carlu-Antone Cecchini, head of the forest cat mission at the National Hunting and Wildlife Office, now part of the OFB, told AFP in 2019.

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