Scottish Wildcat Conservation

The Scottish wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris, is the UK’s last remaining native felid. After many years of persecution and habitat loss, this subspecies is no longer present in England and Wales. Without intervention, this pattern could repeat itself in Scotland, rendering the wildcat locally extinct in Britain.

The UK wildcat populations are now only extant in the Highlands of Scotland. Alongside a variety of other stressors, one of the key threats to these mammals is hybridisation with domestic and feral cats.

Nell Williams Foley’s project, in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Wildcat Action Group, the Natural Environment Research Council and Cardiff University, aims to use biotelemetry and social research methods to develop both our understanding of cat ecology and of cat ownership. This knowledge will allow the more effective management of the impacts cats have on the Scottish wildcat.


  1. To develop our understanding of the drivers of contact between free-ranging cats and Scottish wildcats
  2. To assess the efficacy of current management solutions
  3. To conduct social research to identify potential barriers to responsible cat ownership

Nell Williams Foley (University of Exeter)

Professor Robbie McDonald (University of Exeter)

Dr Roo Campbell (Scottish Natural Heritage)

Professor Stuart Bearhop (University of Exeter)

Dr Sarah Perkins (Cardiff University)