This is a subspecies of wildcat that inhabits forests of Western, Southern, Central and Eastern Europe up to the Caucasus Mountains.
It is absent in Scandinavia and has been extirpated in England and Wales.
In France and Italy, the European wildcat is predominantly nocturnal, but also active in the daytime when undisturbed by human activities.
It is much bigger and stouter than the domestic cat, has longer fur and a shorter non-tapering bushy tail.
It has a striped fur and a dark dorsal band. Males average a weight of 5 Kg (11 lb) up to 8 Kg (18 lb), and females 3.5 kg (7.7 lb).
Their weight fluctuates seasonally up to 2.5 kg (5.5 lb).
Large males in Spain reach 65 cm (26 in) in length, with a 34.5 cm (13.6 in) long tail, and weigh up to 7.5 kg (17 lb).
They also have a less diffuse stripe pattern, proportionally larger teeth, and feed more often on rabbits than the wildcats north of the Douro-Ebro, which are more dependent on small rodents.
Since European wildcats and domestic cats interbreed, it is difficult to distinguish European wildcats and striped hybrids correctly on the basis of only morphological characters.
European wildcats live primarily in broad-leaved and mixed forests. They avoid intensively cultivated areas and settlements.