Sand Cats are true desert dwellers, with numerous adaptations to an arid life and coloring that blends in with their environment. The smallest cat species in Arabia, the sand cat is well adapted to its arid desert habitat, obtaining all the water it needs from its food. Sand cats occur across the Sahara Desert, from Morocco in the west to as far as Egypt and the Sudan in the east. As true desert specialists, they occupy true desert that receives less than 20 mm of rainfall a year. Sand Cats are also known as Sahara Cat and Sand Dune Cat.
They retain a kitten-like appearance their whole lives, giving the impression that they never grow up. They are buff to grey/brown in color with dark stripes on their tail and limbs. They have a wide head with large eyes and low set ears. Its foot pads are covered with thick hair, enabling it to move easily over quickly moving sands in its desert environment, and insulates them from the surface heat. Their foot coverings allow them to walk on sand without sinking, leaving their footprints nearly invisible.
Sand Cats feed upon rodents, birds, reptiles, hares and insects. They utilize the moisture in their food and are able to survive with very little or no additional water. They are the only felid to occur exclusively in desert habitat. Primarily nocturnal, they hunt by digging. Their highly developed hearing allows the to locate prey which is not only sparsely distributed, but underground as well. Sand Cats will also cover large kills with sand and return later to feed.