image of Wildcats
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The Scottish wildcat is the only remaining indigenous member of the cat family in Britain. In addition to habitat loss and historical persecution, a major threat to the Scottish wildcat population is introgressive hybridization with the domestic cat. The Scottish wildcat has been identified as a key conservation target in Scotland. This chapter covers: ecology, biology and behaviour; anatomy and physiology; capture, handling and transportation; clinical assessment; first aid and hospitalization; anaesthesia and analgesia; specific conditions; therapeutics; husbandry; rearing of wildcat kittens; rehabilitation and release; and legal considerations.

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20.1 Scottish wildcat. (© Jean Manson)
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20.2 Seven key pelage markings can be used to distinguish between wildcats and domestic tabby cats. In wildcats
  1. Dorsal stripe on the lower back always stops at the root of the tail.
  2. Tip of tail blunt and black.
  3. Distinct aligned tail bands.
  4. Unbroken flank stripes.
  5. No spots on rump; stripes may be broken, but distinct.
  6. Four nape stripes: broad, wavy and unfused.
  7. Two shoulder stripes.
(© The Zoological Society of London, reproduced from , with permission)
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20.3 Pre-baited traps are used to effectively trap wildcats. For efficiency traps should be placed where prior use of camera traps has identified the presence of a suspected wildcat. (Courtesy of R Campbell)
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20.4 Scottish wildcat being examined under anaesthesia by the author in the field.
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