/wuyld"kat'/, n., pl. wildcats, (esp. collectively) wildcat for 1-4, adj., v., wildcatted, wildcatting.
1. any of several North American felines of the genus Lynx. Cf. lynx.
2. a yellowish-gray, black-striped feline, Felis sylvestris, of Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa, resembling and closely related to the domestic cat, with which it interbreeds freely.
3. a closely related feline, Felis sylvestris libyca, of northern Africa, believed to be the ancestor of the domestic cat.
4. any of several other of the smaller felines, as the serval or ocelot.
5. a domestic cat that has become feral.
6. a quick-tempered or savage person.
7. Railroads. a single locomotive operating without a train, as one switching cars.
8. an exploratory well drilled in an effort to discover deposits of oil or gas; a prospect well.
9. a reckless or unsound enterprise, business, etc.
10. Informal. wildcatter (def. 2).
11. Naut. a shaped drum on a windlass, engaging with the links of an anchor chain.
12. Informal. See wildcat strike.
13. characterized by or proceeding from reckless or unsafe business methods: wildcat companies; wildcat stocks.
14. of or pertaining to an illicit enterprise or product.
15. running without control or regulation, as a locomotive, or apart from the regular schedule, as a train.
16. to search an area of unknown or doubtful productivity for oil, ore, or the like, esp. as an independent prospector.
17. Slang. to engage in a wildcat strike.
18. to search (an area of unknown or doubtful productivity) for oil, ore, or the like.
[1375-1425; late ME wilde cat; cf. MLG wildkatte]

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Wild species (Felis silvestris) of cat (family Felidae) native to Eurasian forests.

Very similar to the domestic yellowish tabby, it will interbreed with domestic cats (of which it is presumably an ancestor). It is 20–32 in. (50–80 cm) long, excluding the 10–14-in. (25–35-cm) tail. It stands 14–16 in. (35–40 cm) and weighs 6–20 lbs (3–10 kg). Solitary and nocturnal, it preys on birds and small animals. In North America the name is used for the bobcat and lynx; in Africa it refers to the Caffre cat.

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▪ Felis silvestris
 (species Felis silvestris), a small wild member of the cat family (Felidae) native to Eurasia. The name wildcat is also used as a general term for feral domestic cats and for any of the smaller wild species of the cat family.

      The European wildcat inhabits forested regions from Scotland through continental Europe to western Asia. It is similar to the domestic cat but has longer legs, a larger, flatter head, and a full, relatively short tail ending in a rounded (not pointed) tip. The coat is yellowish gray with dark stripes and bands in the striped tabby pattern; the tail is black-ringed. The adult wildcat is 50 to 80 cm (20 to 32 inches) long, excluding a 25- to 35-centimetre tail; it stands 35–40 cm (14–16 inches) high at the shoulder and weighs from 3 to 10 kg (6.6 to 22 pounds).

      The European wildcat is a solitary, nocturnal animal that preys on birds and small mammals and is reported to raid farms, stealing poultry and lambs. It breeds once yearly (in spring) in continental Europe and twice (sometimes three times) yearly in Scotland. A litter consists of three to six kittens; the gestation period is 68 days. The wildcat interbreeds with the domestic cat. Certain authorities believe that the purity of the Scottish wildcat (one of the several races) is being threatened by interbreeding.

      In North America, the lynx and bobcat (q.v.) are sometimes called wildcats. The Caffre cat (Egyptian wildcat) (q.v.) of Africa is often referred to as the African, or Egyptian, wildcat.

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Universalium. 2010.

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