1. Oh hey! This is the sand cat. He didn’t see you there…
3. In preparation for your visit, he got all cleaned up.
4. And made sure to get plenty of rest.
5. Usually you’d find him sunbathing in the desert (the sand cat’s the only feline that lives in a true desert), but today he’s here with you!
6. The sand cat’s just like a regular cat… but with bigger ears and a broader head. Kind of like if a cat had its caricature drawn.
7. They also have these funky black rings on their fur that kind of make it look like they’re wearing a football jersey.
8. Their ears might make them seem tall, but sand cats are less then three feet long and only weigh between four and eight pounds.
9. In 2002, the IUCN listed the sand cat population as “Near Threatened.”
10. As a result, the Ramat Gan Safari in Tel Aviv, Israel built a sand cat sanctuary as a part of the European Endangered Species Program.
11. Because of their sparse population, the sand cat has adapted a loud mating call that resembles a small dog barking.
12. Even so, sand cat litters only produce an average of three itty-bitty sand cats, making it even harder for their numbers to grow.
13. A small step forward in the right direction, the Ramat Gan sanctuary welcomed its first sand cat litter in 2012! Three. Baby. Sand cats!
14. There were concerns that Rotem, the mama cat, wouldn’t be able to care for all three of her miracle babies…
15. …but like any mother would, Rotem made sure she had full control off her little ones’ upbringing.
16. At only three weeks old, the curious sand kittens emerged from their burrow and started to explore the sanctuary.
17. Three weeks was sooner than anyone expected! Since then, Rotem has been telling every visitor who’ll listen that her babies are “gifted.”*
*OK, so that part is obviously made up. But like… she would totally do it if she could.