Le Chat forestier sounds like something off the menu, ie prepared with wild mushrooms….. sorry. Anyway what is the status of the Wild cat (Felis silvestris) in Poitou-Charentes? Well last seen in Vienne about 1930 to 1940, but its range has been extending in a westerly direction. The photo below is of a wild cat which I took in Edinburgh Zoo. I may have seen a wild cat in Eastern Poland a couple of years ago but I sent some not very good photos of it to a guy who works with a Polish wildlife conservation organisation and he said what I saw was domestic cat.
So what is the difference between the domestic cat and the Wild cat? Well not a lot, the wild cat is ferocious and cannot be tamed whereas the domestic cat can be and usually is quite calm. Physically the wild cat is just a big tabby cat but with a very thick tail that is banded and ends quite bluntly… and the cat I saw in Poland did have that sort of tail. Anyway I need to get over it, I probably did not see a wild cat, but I might have done and in my little head the animal I would most like to see in the whole world is a wild cat or possibly a snow leopard but its between those two. In the photo below, again from Edinburgh Zoo you can see what I am saying about the tail.
As you can see it is not far off the Poitou-Charentes region. I do not see any reason why it should not recolonize. Its preferred habitat is Woodland of which there is quite a lot and its food is small stuff voles, shrews, rabbits, birds hares and sometimes amphibians and insects. So it is not dependant on a high population of deer or wild boar like the Lynx. Having said that the Deer population is quite high. So what are the problems for the reestablishment of the wild cat. Well its man and he is not that fond of them as they can target chickens, but more of a problem is the domestic cat and domestic cats gone wild, ie feral cats because they will interbreed and thus dilute the purity of the wild cat. In a survey of Scottish wild cats only 1 in every 8 were genetically pure wild cat, the other 7 out of 8 had some domestic cat in their genes.
If you want to see Wild cats in France then there is a cat zoo which is at a place called Nesles which is about 52 Km south east of Paris. They have all sorts of cats including the bigger ones like Lions and Tigers but they also have the European wild cat to give it its full name.