This kitten, born in 2011, is an endangered black-footed cat, one of the first black-footed kittens born to a surrogate mother, using frozen embryos and in vitro fertilization. Now he and his littermate have a sister, Crystal, with the same genetic parents, but a different surrogate mom — a plain old housecat.
The African black-footed cat is one of the world’s smallest felines, and the cats are tiny but fierce hunters — they can kill hares that outweigh them. They can also range far from water, finding hydration from their prey and dew they lick off of grass. But none of this general feline badassery has kept the species from becoming severely endangered — there are only 40 in captivity worldwide.
The Audubon Nature Institute in Louisiana, which bred Crystal and her brothers, is interested in using domestic cats as surrogates for a range of endangered and threatened kitties.
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