Wild Cat Species

Wild Cat

Wild Cat Species — Photo by ingirogiro — love the face

This is a page on the various species of wild cat with pictures.

About the classification of the wild cat species (taxonomy). Note: Although it does make things less clear and more complicated, it is worth noting from the outset that there is still disagreement on the number of species of wild cats. Thirty-six is the most widely recognised figure. At Sept. 2012, the Wikipedia authors list 40 wild cats. The difference is because they have added these cats: (a) a species of the leopard cat, the Iriomote Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis) which is referred to by me as a subspecies (b) Pantanal Cat (Leopardus braccatus) and Colocolo (Leopardus colocolo) which are treated by me as the pampas cat. I have 37 separate species listed because I have the Chinese desert cat as a separate species of wildcat and not a subspecies. I may change this in due course. Complicated? Yes, but whenever you write about or study the wild cats you have to face that problem. At present you can’t say with complete conviction that there are 36 different wild cats.

My advice is that if you are writing about the wild cats you should start with something like this (if you want to, feel free to use this):

“At [put date], there is still some disagreement by scientists on the number of wild cat species. The majority agree that there are 36 wild cats. I will proceed on the basis that there are 36 species of wild cat based on the work of the Sunquists in their definitive work: The Wild Cats Of The World, while being alert to changes due to the evolving science of taxonomy…..”

This page  Go to Page 2
African golden cat Leopard cat
Andean mountain cat Lion
Asiatic golden cat Lynx – Canadian
Bay cat Lynx – Eurasian
Black-footed cat Lynx – Iberian
Bobcat Manul
Caracal Marbled cat
Cheetah Margay
Chinese desert cat Ocelot
Clouded leopard (2 species) Oncilla
Fishing cat Pampas cat
Flat-headed cat Puma
Geoffroy’s cat Rusty-spotted cat
Jaguar Sand cat
Jaguarundi Serval
Jungle cat Snow leopard
Kodkod Tiger
Leopard Wildcat

 
Take me to the credits for the photographs on this page

Status in the wild is as at 2011 based on IUCN Red List™. See IUCN Red List™ details for the wild cats. Domestic cats were once wildcats. The best sources of information about wild cat species have been used in compiling this information. You can rely on this information. See lots more pages on the wild cats.
For mobiles: please view this table in horizontal view (turn device to landscape orientation)

African golden cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Caracal aurata
Weight kgs 8-16
Distribution Equatorial Africa
Habitat Forest
Prey Rodents (70%)
Status in wild Near Threatened
UP
Andean Mountain Cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Leopardus jacobita
Weight kgs 4-5
Distribution The Andes Mountains
Habitat Rocky & mountainous
Prey Mountain Vizcacha
Status in wild Endangered
UP
Asiatic golden cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Pardofelis temminckii
Weight kgs 8-16
Distribution Tibet to Sumatra
Habitat Prefers forest
Prey Small mammals
Status in wild Near Threatened
12 images
UP
Bay cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Pardofelis badia
Weight kgs 3-4
Distribution Borneo
Habitat Tropical forest
Prey small animals
Status in wild Endangered
UP
Black-footed cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Felis nigripes
Weight kgs About 2
Distribution S.W.Africa
Habitat Dry and open
Prey gerbils (75%)
Status in wild Vulnerable
UP
Bobcat
More on this cat
Scientific name Lynx rufus
Weight kgs 4-18
Distribution North America
Habitat Wide variety
Prey Rabbits and hares
Status in wild Least Concern
UP
Caracal
More on this cat
Scientific name Caracal caracal
Weight Kgs 6-20
Distribution Central & South East Africa
Habitat Prefers open grassland
Prey Guinea fowl to small antelopes
Status in Wild Least Concern
UP
Cheetah
More on this cat
Scientific name Acinonyx jubatus
Weight kgs 21-65
Distribution Fragmented: Africa, Iran, Azerbaijan
Habitat Namibian grassland
Prey Impala
Status in Wild Vulnerable
UP
Chinese mountain cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Felis silvestris bieti
Weight kgs 6.5-9
Distribution Central China
Habitat Mountainous terrain
Prey Pika
Status in wild Vulnerable
UP
Clouded leopard
More on this cat (2 species listed)
Scientific name Neofelis nebulosa
Weight kgs 12-23
Distribution East Asia
Habitat Forest
Prey Arboreal & terrestrial verterbates
Status in wild Vulnerable
UP
Fishing cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Prionailurus viverrinus
Weight kgs 5-12
Distribution Asia
Habitat Near water – thick cover
Prey Fish and ground animals
Status in wild Endangered
UP
Flat-headed cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Prionailurus planiceps
Weight kgs 1.5-2.2
Distribution Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo
Habitat Associated with water
Prey Fish
Status in wild Endangered
UP
Geoffroys cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Leopardus geoffroyi
Weight kgs 2.6-6.5
Distribution Southern areas of S.America
Habitat Temperate and subtropical. Scrubby areas along rivers
Prey Small rodents and birds
Status in wild Near Threatened
UP
jaguar (cat)
More on this cat
Scientific name Panthera onca
Weight kgs 31-121
Distribution Central & South America
Habitat Dense tropical forest
Prey Wide range of prey
Status in wild Near Threatened
UP
jaguarundi
More on this cat
Scientific name Puma yagouaroundi
Weight kgs 3.5-7
Distribution Mexico through to Argentina
Habitat Wide variety
Prey Small prey, mainly rodents, birds, reptiles
Status in wild Least Concern
UP
jungle cat
More on this cat
Scientific name Felis Chaus
Weight kgs 3-10
Distribution Turkey & Egypt to Vietnam
Habitat Swamps
Prey Small mammals
Status in wild Least Concern
UP
kodkod
More on this cat
Scientific name Leopardus guigna
Weight kgs 1.5-2.8
Distribution Chile, Argentina
Habitat Forest
Prey Primarily small mammals
Status in wild Vulnerable
UP
leopard
More on this cat
Caucasian leopard
Scientific name Panthera pardus
Weight kgs 17-70
Distribution Widest of all wildcats
Habitat Many different habitats
Prey Wide variety
Status in wild Near Threatened
Go to page two for the next 18 species.

 

Classification

The classification of wild cat species is work in progress. Taxonomy is an evolving science. There have been marked changes in classification over the preceding 100 years. Currently (at 2011) there are 36 species of wild cat according to the premier book on wild cats: Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist. They follow CITES classification, World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC) and Wild Cats Status Survey and Conservation Plan. The book was published 2002. The situation can change. DNA testing has changed things. I have listed the Sunda clouded leopard as a separate species but written about it within the clouded leopard page.

The number of species of wild cat varies from 36 to 40 (Wikipedia). The variations are probably due to subspecies being classified as species. There is still disagreement (lion taxonomy). This is because all the cats have a very similar morphology (the form, structure and features of an animal). All cats, except the cheetah, behave in a similar way too. All the wild cats evolved from eight lineages it is currently believed.

It is surprising to note that there are a number of species that are little known. Yet we are still destroying their habitat. It is probably a case of out of sight and out of mind. These are secretive small wildcats living in dense forest avoiding people.

Photographic Credits

Except for Jim Sanderson Ph.D., creative commons licenses granted by the photographers have permitted me to create derivatives of the originals. Thank you.

African golden cat – copyright Terry Whittaker.
Andean mountain cat – Believed Jim Sanderson Ph.D.
Asiatic golden cat – Karen Stout.
Bay cat – Jim Sanderson Ph.D.
Black-footed cat – Unknown, public domain.
Bobcat – ForestGladesiWander (Flickr).
Caracal – prb10111—awol (Flickr).
Cheetah – tom raftery (Flickr)
Chinese desert cat – Believed Jim Sanderson Ph.D.
Clouded leopard – cliff1066 (Flickr).
Fishing cat – cliff1066 (Flickr).
Flat-headed cat – Jim Sanderson Ph.D.
Geoffroy’s cat – MrGuilt
Jaguar – Eric Kilby
Jaguarundi – law_keven
Jungle cat – Dr Tarak N Khan
Kodkod – Jim Sanderson Ph.D.
Leopard – npmeijer

Sources

1. Wild Cats Of The World – by Mel and Fiona Sunquist. Recognized as the best book on the wild cats.
2. Occasionally Wikipedia.
3. Great Cats – Majestic Creatures of the Wild – edited by Dr. John Seidensticker and Sr. Susan Lumpkin. Best wild cat photographs.
4. Wild Cats of the World – by David Alderton
5. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
6. Various miscellaneous websites on an ad hoc basis.
7. Myself.

Note all photos are licensed for derivates under the relevant creative commons license. Jim Sanderson’s photos are not licensed for derivatives. I have taken a liberty in making derivatives for this page. Although in return I promote his work and the conservation of the small cats.


Comments

Wild Cat Species — 39 Comments

  1. tonite bout 7pm I saw a cat in my back yard. It looked like a jaguarundi tryed taking pic with my cell phone.
    Can[t see but it did have stripes and a long tail. About 4 feet I have two small dogs so I think it smelled their fecus
    It was hiding behind a bush once it found out I saw it. I live in North Fort Myers

  2. Hi Michael,

    I checked out both page 1 and 2. Looks like you have all the wild cats covered.

    I noticed a few that I’ve never heard of – Andean Mountain, Asiatic Golden (reminds me of a Tiger), Fishing, Sand Cat and KodKod to name a few. Intriguing.

    It’s always upsetting to hear about the impact of the loss of habitat and hunting. So much deforestation going on all over the world – farming, raw consumer material such as wood and minerals, industrial and commercial and civilian neighborhoods. Very sad.

    Now that everything is fished out and the herbivores are thinning out too, hunters are going after carnivores. Also sad.

    Fun to thumb through the two pages of wild cats.

    Thanx,

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

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  4. Hi: Very interesting. Why no Felis lybica listings? There are still pockets of genetically pure wild cats here in Zululand.

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    • Hi Barb, the big question is, “how big?” He or she might be a large silver tabby cat, even a tabby Maine Coon (a purebred cat). They can look a bit like a wild cat. Other than that I would bet the cat you saw was a bobcat. They can have coats that are not brown and they are in Florida and they are the size of a Spaniel dog. Might it be a bobcat?

    • Barb, I am not sure how big a Dalmatian is but I know they are quite large, but this cat more or less has to be a bobcat because the bobcat is the only possible wild cat species in this instance.

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  9. I have seen a similar cat in Tarrant County(Fort Worth} several times over the last 15 years. The first time crossing Mosier Valley Road in a creek bottom west of Industrial(157). There are over 5000+ acres of river bottom land with a city landfill (Arlington,TX)on the northern edge of this open area. There are plenty of rabbits, raccoons, bobcats and rodents. They are building houses in the area now. No house had been in the area since the late fifties.

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  11. Thank you for your enlightening article on the wildcats that have, in recent times, been used in producing domestic breeds like Bengals and Savannahs. I raised Bengals since the early 1990s. I can tell you that breeding programs have come a long way since then! I’ve had two pairs, both male and female (altered). The Bengals are truly unique. They are extremely intelligent, fearless, love the water (one of mine jumped in the shower while I was in there), unbelievably athletic, yet affectionate, loving, and devoted cats. Like all purebred animals, one must do their homework by delving into breeders’ background, enabling them to select two or three to visit from which to buy a kitten from. If your instincts tell you something doesn’t seem right, run. Visiting the breeders and checking their background is the biggest favor you can do yourself prior to your purchase of a purebred cat with wild ancestry.

  12. I live in ft worth, TX but I worth in south texas. It flooded a couple weeks ago and the guys at work found a kitten that had wonder onto the job site after the water started to drain off. We are quite far from town and everything about the kitten seems to be different from a domestic cat. I’ve took it in and have been doctoring it back to good health. If you could help identify it would really help.

    • Hi Myles, well done in getting the photo uploaded. For me this cat has the appearance of a wild cat hybrid but not a wild cat species.

      On the face of it (s)he is a brown mackerel tabby cat but the classic M pattern on the forehead of tabby cats is significantly different. There are indications that the pattern is like that of some wild cat species but modified due to hybridization.

      An ocelot x domestic cat (Bengal) hybrid comes to mind but its a pure guess. If I am correct the ocelot would probably have been captive but they are present in Mexico not far from South Texas.

      There are other small wild cat species that can create wild cat hybrids.

      Does your cat show signs of being a wild cat hybrid? Wild traits? Slightly different vocalisations for instance. Active. Likes water. Bold. Intelligent etc.?

      Thanks for posting.

  13. Thank you for that information! And yes, it for sure has different vocalizations – its growl is entirely different than anything we have ever heard. It’s a real low pitch, quiet, almost humming-like growl. It likes water and it potty trained itself before we ever had it. The vet yesterday predicted the cat to be no older than 6 weeks, which is the age we also thought it to be. It also has huge paws with long webbed fingers.

    • The paws are awesome. For me this cat has wild cat hybrid traits. There appears to be quite a lot of people who like to breed wild cat hybrids informally. That could be where (s)he has come from. As he develops things might become clearer. You may have difficulties. Watch out for escapes!

      I wonder whether the large paws indicate a bobcat x domestic cat hybrid? The lynx family have large paws. Just guessing. What interests me is the pattern on the forehead which is reminiscent of a some small wild cat species.

  14. i saw a cat recently near my place and it did not seem like a normal cat it was too built up for a normal cat. so i am worried if my family and i are in any danger.i thought it maybe a rooikat but it does not have the standing ears. please reply

  15. That kitten is a baja fishingcat. Quite a find. It will grow to look almost mainecoone with giant webbed paws. I stumbled onto this site looking for info on that very cat. My brother in CA had one die at aged 16, no one has them in US. Came from some little port in Mexico 17 years ago. I see they are still rare.

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