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The sand cat (Felis margarita) is the only member of the cat family that lives in deserts. It is found in North Africa, the Arabian peninsula, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and western Pakistan.
The sand cat has numerous adaptations that enable it to survive in the desert. For instance, the padding on the soles of its feet is well suited to walking over loose sandy soil. Also, the sand cat does not need to drink water—it gets all the moisture it needs from solid foods.
The sand cat has dense fur that is sandy or grayish-ochre in color. Its body length is 17.5 to 22 inches (45 to 57 centimeters). The sand cat is mainly nocturnal (active at night) and feeds on rodents, hares, birds, and reptiles.
Other cats have the word "desert" in their name, yet are not actually desert-dwellers. The Chinese desert cat (Felis bieti), for instance, inhabits steppe (semi-arid grassland) regions and mountains. Likewise, the Asiatic desert cat (Felis silvestris omata) inhabits the open plains of India, Pakistan, Iran, and Asiatic Russia.
Sources: The Marshall Cavendish International Wildlife Encyclopedia, vol. 2, p. 206; Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th ed., vol. 2, p., 1193; Taylor, David. You and Your Cat, pp. 41-43.
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