The sand cat (felis margarita, חתול חול) is native to North Africa and West and Central Asia, on the periphery between the Mediterranean and desert climate zones. They are distinctive for their wide bodies, large ears, and distinctive striped markings. You may notice a resemblance to the fennec fox, which also lives in the Sahara.
Most notably, they have fur covering their paws so they can walk on sand dunes without burning themselves. They can cross-breed with domestic cats, but this is rare because they generally don’t live in the same places.
The kittens above were seen by a National Geographic photographer on the side of a road in Morocco in late 2017. It’s believed to be the first time that sand cats have been photographed in the wild. Even since, almost all others captured on film (such as the fellow below) are in captivity, usually as part of breeding programs since they are endangered.
Sand cats are believed to have gone extinct in Israel in the early 1990s, but were reintroduced with help from the Zoological Center of Tel Aviv. Below is Rotem, who gave birth to three kittens in the country in 2012.
Sand cats are hard for humans to find even where they thrive, because they are nocturnal and also are cats.