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(Felis silvestris), a predatory animal of the family Felidae, somewhat larger than the domestic cat. Unlike the domestic cat, however, the European wildcat has fluffy fur, a thin flesh side, and a regular pattern of lateral dark stripes on the sides of the body and on the tail. The body is brownish gray, and the tip of the tail is black; melanics occur.
The European wildcat is distributed in Europe and Asia Minor. In the USSR it lives in Moldavia, the Carpathians, and the Caucasus. It inhabits beech forests, shrubs, and reeds and is a good tree climber. It feeds on rodents and birds, sometimes attacking young roe deer and reindeer. The young (two to six, most often three or four) are born in April or May. The European wildcat has little practical significance; its fur is of little value.