Are There Cats In Antarctica?

Cats seem like they can be found in every place of the world. From the average house cat that can be found in homes all over the world to the snow leopard that can be found in the cold mountain ranges of Asia to the lions that live in the savannahs of Africa, it seems like these animals are fairly adaptive and can survive in many different areas. But what about the harshest environment of all? Can cats be found in Antarctica? 

Are there cats in Antarctica? 

There are no cats living in Antarctica today. Antarctica is simply too cold and its desert landscape is not optimal for cats to live in. Scientists were never allowed to bring them to Antarctica’s research stations as well.

Did cats ever live in Antarctica? 

Believe it or not, there were never cats in North America, South America, or Australia before the Europeans immigrated to those parts of the world. Obviously, this has changed. Just like on these continents, cats were never native to Antarctica. But unlike the other parts of the world, researchers were not allowed to bring cats to Antarctic stations. This is because it was feared that these cats could escape and then set up breeding colonies in Antarctica. 

Argentinian station, Antarctica
Argentinian station, Antarctica

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With that being said, there is a colony of feral cats that live on the sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Cats were introduced to this island in 1949 and they thrived because there were no natural predators for them. This island is off the southern coast of Africa and is the closest area to Antarctica where cats can be found.  

Humans have never permanently lived on the continent of Antarctica, but visiting researchers have tried to introduce animals to the continent. For example, mammals that have been transported to the continent include sheep, pigs, reindeer, mice, rabbits, cattle, and even cats. Researchers have done studies to see the ecological impact of these animals, but today, no introduced mammals live on the continent of Antarctica.  

Would cats be able to live in Antarctica? 

Political map of Antarctica
Political map of Antarctica

Cats would not be able to live in Antarctica due to the lethal climate and the fact that there is no prey for them to eat. First, let’s look at the climate. Antarctica is the coldest place in the world. The average temperature on the continent is -70 degrees Fahrenheit, although it can reach temperatures of about 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.

It is also extremely windy and dry and is actually considered to be a desert. In general, most types of cats do not do well with temperatures under 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and it rarely gets warmer than that in Antarctica. 

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Secondly, cats would not be able to find the food that they need to survive if they lived in Antarctica. Feral cats usually eat small animals, like mice, birds, fish, lizards, rabbits, squirrels, and everything in between that they can find.

Kayaking in Antarctica between icebergs
Kayaking in Antarctica between icebergs

Wild big cats usually eat large hoofed mammals, such as deer, boars, and wild pigs, as well as the smaller mammals that their smaller relatives eat such as rabbits, squirrels, and mice. Big cats will also eat animals like reptiles, amphibians, and insects. 

Due to the harsh environment on the continent, there are not many animals that live in Antarctica. Animals that are cold-blooded, like insects, reptiles, and mammals, cannot survive on this continent because it is too cold for them to be able to regulate their body temperately.

And there is also a very limited amount of mammals and birds on the continent. Some of the animals that live in Antarctica include penguins, whales, seals, albatrosses, petrels, and pigeons.  

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Are there cats in the Arctic? 

Canada Lynx
Canada Lynx

Since we know that there are no cats in the Antarctic region of the world, what about in the Arctic? Unlike the South Pole, cats can survive in the areas around the North Pole. The Canada lynx is a medium-sized cat that lives in the northern parts of Canada and Alaska which are both parts of the Arctic Circle.

These cats can also be found in some northern US states, such as Washington, Maine, and Minnesota. They prefer to live in areas with continuous snow coverage because that gives them an advantage against other terrestrial predators such as bobcats and coyotes.