Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s success with breeding black-footed cats continued earlier this month with the birth of two kittens to mom, Godiva, and father, Wyatt.
The kittens, whose sexes have yet to be determined, are healthy and doing well on exhibit with their mom in the nocturnal animal area of the Zoo’s Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building.
The kittens were born April 2 and weigh about 200 grams each. They are the third black-footed cat litter to be born at the Zoo since Godiva and Wyatt arrived in 2009 from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. When they arrived, they were the first black-footed cats to ever be exhibited at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
Wyatt is considered a genetically valuable animal whose genes and offspring are an important contribution to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for black-footed cats. There are about 18 accredited institutions in North America with black-footed cats.
Black-footed cats are the smallest of the African cats, with adults reaching about 3.5 pounds when fully grown. Their conservation status is listed as “vulnerable” in the wild. Black-footed cats are found in the grasslands and savannas of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The gestation period is from 63 to 68 days, resulting in a litter of 1-3 kittens. Kittens develop quickly, eating solid food at five weeks and capturing prey at six.