Civet Cat: Are they really cats? Let’s find out!

A Civet Cat: Are they really cats?

Civet Cat

Well, they are and they are not. At least not when it comes to the domestic cat as we know it. The term civet cat is one of those terms that everybody misuses because everybody else does. It is used to describe certain cat-like creatures.

But since we are interested in our feline companion’s cousins, we will check out some of these felines known as civet cats.

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Leopard Cat

This civet cat is original from Asia, mostly the south, southeast, and east. It is a rather small wildcat that includes several subspecies. These differ in color, skull shape, tail length, and the size of their carnassials.

The leopard cat is almost the same size as your domestic cat, except it is slender and with longer legs. They are not an endangered species; in fact, they are widely distributed but threatened by the destruction of their habitat.

African Wildcat

Also called Near Eastern wildcat, these cats live in Northern Africa, the Near East, and in the Arabian peninsula. It is common for domestic cats to be crossed with African wildcats.

The color of their coat is usually light grey with a reddish or yellowish hue. There are two distinctive dark stripes around the face.

The African Wildcat is distributed all across Northern Africa. It goes from Morocco to Egypt, and through the horn of Africa.

Ring-tailed cat

This little fella is not even a cat, but due to its resemblance to the cat-like carnivores from Africa and Asia, it is considered a civet cat. The ring-tail cat actually belongs to the raccoon family and it is original from North America.

Probably the most distinctive feature of the ring-tailed cat, is it long tail with dark rings around it. These nocturnal creatures weigh no more than 3 pounds and have big round eyes and pointed ears.


The civet is a small mammal original from tropical Asia and Africa. The best-known one is the African civet. This species has been the one used originally to obtain the musky scent used in perfumery.

These animals have a lot of cat-like features, except for the face which is more elongated than the domestic cat.  The fragrance they produce was used to stabilize perfume odor. Due to animal right activism, the practice of hunting or scraping off the scents from the animals has decreased.

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