When I first heard of the cat-fox, I thought, Oh no, now we’ve done it, but don’t worry — there isn’t any interspecies sexing going on. It’s just a whimsical moniker for our new friends, the previously undocumented feline species hanging around the island of Corsica. Upon first glance, a cat-fox appears to look like your average kitty. But it’s bigger and badder than the cats we know and love; it has large teeth that resemble a dog’s.
According to the Agence France-Presse, these cat-foxes measure about 35 inches from head to tail, and they have short whiskers and wide ears, along with the aforementioned big teeth. Other physical characteristics include stripes on their front legs, ringed tails ending with a black fluffy tip, and a silky fur coat that acts as a natural repellent for fleas and other parasitic insects.
“We believe that it’s a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it’s an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits,” the chief environmental technician of the National Hunting and Wildlife Office, Pierre Benedetti, told AFP. Researchers have been studying the cat-fox, known as “Ghjattu volpe” in Corsican, for the last decade.
At first, the cat-fox was regarded as a myth. “From generation to generation, they told stories of how the forest cats would attack the udders of their ewes and goats,” ONCFS field agent Carlu-Antone Cecchini said. One of the animals was finally caught inside of a chicken coop in 2008. Since then, ONCFS rangers have managed to capture a total of 12 cats out of the 16 seen around the area. (The rangers catch the felines using nonviolent methods and release them upon examination.)
As far as where the heck these large cats came from, Benedetti has a theory that the cats were brought to the island around 6,500 years BC. “If the hypothesis is true, its origins are Middle Eastern,” Benedetti said.
Hmm, they’re cool and all, but I wouldn’t want cat-fox following me into the bathroom.