Wild Sand Kittens Caught On Video Are Almost Too Cute To Be Real

Breakthroughs in research are rarely this ridiculously cute.

Last month, global wild cat conservation organization Panthera published photos and videos of what the group believes is the first time sand kittens have been documented in the wild in Africa.

A wild sand kitten in the Moroccan Sahara. (Photo: Gregory Breton/Sand Cat Sahara Team)
A wild sand kitten in the Moroccan Sahara. (Photo: Gregory Breton/Sand Cat Sahara Team)

Sand cats are small, wild cats living in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Panthera France’s Gregory Breton, whose Sand Cat Sahara Team obtained footage of the kittens in the Moroccan Sahara, wrote in a blog post about the new footage, describing how sand cats are hard to spot in the wild:

Finding sand cats (Felis margarita) in their natural range … is difficult. They barely leave any visible pugmarks, they don’t leave behind remains of their prey, and their vocalizations are quiet. They move stealthily at dusk, night, and dawn, they’re good at hiding, and their fur provides perfect camouflage when they want to vanish from observers and threats.

Though Breton’s blog post was published on Sept. 20, the photos and video have been gaining traction online over the past several days.

Wild sand kittens in the Moroccan Sahara. (Photo: Gregory Breton/Sand Cat Sahara Team)
Wild sand kittens in the Moroccan Sahara. (Photo: Gregory Breton/Sand Cat Sahara Team)

The solitary animals have been nicknamed “Peter Pan cats” since even the adults have kitten-like facial features. Because they spend much of their time in burrows, they’re also called “the cat that digs holes,” according to the International Society for Endangered Cats.

While sand cats aren’t listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, they do face threats that include the exotic pet trade and habitat loss from human activity like livestock grazing.

And while sand cats are indisputably adorable, they are wild animals and are not suited to live as house pets.

Rotem, a mother sand cat, with her kittens at a zoo near Tel Aviv in 2015. (Photo: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
Rotem, a mother sand cat, with her kittens at a zoo near Tel Aviv in 2015. (Photo: Baz Ratner / Reuters)

“As a result of our footage, some individuals have expressed the desire to catch and keep sand cats at home ― a practice that is in direct opposition to our goal of creating awareness and protection for the species in the wild,” Breton said in a statement sent to HuffPost.

“It’s important to remember that sand cats are a wild cat species that should not be captured from the wild or interbred to make hybrids with domestic house cats.”

Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.

Also on HuffPost

Welgevonden Private Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa
Welgevonden Private Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa
Male lion (Panthera leo) with cub, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Male lion (Panthera leo) with cub, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Black and white side view portrait of a powerful male lion face.
Black and white side view portrait of a powerful male lion face.
Lion (Panthera leo) walking
Lion (Panthera leo) walking
Africa, lion cubs(Panthera leo)
Africa, lion cubs(Panthera leo)
Lion in intense stare showing mane and bright, open eyes.
Lion in intense stare showing mane and bright, open eyes.
Male lion with young cub
Male lion with young cub
Close up of male lions on the prowl through high grass - Masai Mara, Kenya
Close up of male lions on the prowl through high grass - Masai Mara, Kenya
Stoic lion on savanna, Africa
Stoic lion on savanna, Africa
Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve
Lion
Lion
Silhouette of lion against blue sky and clouds
Silhouette of lion against blue sky and clouds
UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 15:  Sullivan the lion who 'loves to play cat and mouse'.  (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images).
UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 15: Sullivan the lion who 'loves to play cat and mouse'. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images).
Lion lying down in dirt
Lion lying down in dirt
Lions in Serengeti National Park
Lions in Serengeti National Park
close-up of an adult lion, Serengeti National Park, Kenya
close-up of an adult lion, Serengeti National Park, Kenya
Pair of lions (Panthera leo) on meadow, side view
Pair of lions (Panthera leo) on meadow, side view
Kenya
Kenya
lion in masai mara national park
lion in masai mara national park

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting