This is a page on the wild cats. It is written for children. Wild cats live in the wild, in forests, by the water, on grassy plains and in dusty deserts. They are all over the planet but you hardly see them. To protect themselves, they are secretive. They are very similar in behavior and appearance to our domestic cats.
Most of the people who know the wild cats well (the “experts”) agree that there are 36 different types of wild cats. Each one is called a “species” of wild cat because it is different to the others. The problem with the wild cats is that even the experts are not sure how many different species of wild cat there are in the world.
This is because wild cats all behave in nearly the same way. And although they look different, they are actually not that different. This makes it difficult to decide whether a particular wild cat is different to another one. People argue about this. You will see slightly different lists of wild cat species. The differences are normally about the leopard cat, the clouded leopard, the Chinese desert cat and the group of cats called the “wildcats”. You also might see differences on the Pampas cat.
Children should always be careful when describing the wild cats. It is sensible to start talking or writing about them by saying or writing, “We are not absolutely sure how many different species of wild cat there are. We believe there are 36 at the moment….”
Just below on this page you will see a large picture. You’ll see all the different wild cats. They are in groups inside light grey areas. Each group has a label. For example, at the top left is a group of four cats which is the “Lynx lineage“. What does this mean? Well, you can see that this group of cats are more like each other than the other cats. They look almost the same. If you went back thousands or millions of years you would find that these four cats have the same parents. They are a kind of family and a bit different to the other groups of cats in this picture. The same thing applies to the other 7 groups.
All cats are flesh (or meat) eaters. They eat animals and sometimes insects, even plants! The snow leopard eats quite a lot of a certain kind of plant. The experts call flesh eating animals: carnivores. The Latin name for the animals that are carnviores, which is used by experts is “carnivora“. The family of cats is also given a Latin name: Felidae. The video shows you how to say these words. Latin is an old language that comes from Ancient Rome. Experts still like to use latin.
There are four wild cats that are not part of a group. You can see that because they are not grouped together in a light grey area. They are not part of a group of wild cats because each one is different from all the other wild cat species.
Below the picture I explain the important bits of information about each cat . If you want to read more and see more pictures you can search for information on this website. But it is written for adults. That does not mean you can’t or should not read it 🙂
1 kg (kilogram or kilogramme) = 2.20 pounds – if you want to work out the cat’s weight in pounds, multiply the weight in kgs by 2.2. If you then want to work out the weight in stones you have to divide by 14 (the number of pounds in one stone). The answer will be in stones and a fraction of a stone. Kilograms are European weights. They are also used in many other countries. Pounds are used in the United States.
||Where does it live?
||What places does it
|What size is it?
||What does it eat?|
|African golden cat||Africa||Forests||8-16 kgs||Rodents|
|Andean cat||Andes Mountains, South America||Rocky places||4-5 kgs||Vizcacha|
|Asiatic golden cat||Tibet to the island of Sumatra||Forest||8-16kgs||Small mammals|
|Bay cat||The island of Borneo in Asia||Tropical forest||3-4 kgs||Small animals|
|Black-footed cat||South West Africa||Dry and open places||2 kgs||Gerbils|
|Bobcat||North America||All kinds of different places||4-18 kgs||Rabbits and hares|
|Caracal||Central and South East Africa||Open grassland||6-20 kgs||Wide range including guinea fowl and small
|Cheetah||Africa, Iran and Azerbaijan||Grassland||21-65||Impala|
|Chinese desert cat||Central China||Mountains||6-9 kgs||Pika|
|Clouded leopard||East Asia||Forest||12-23 kgs||Animals that live in trees and on the ground|
|Fishing cat||Asia||Near water||5-12 kgs||Fish and other small animals|
|Flat-headed cat||Thailand, Sumatra, Borneo and Malaysia||Near water||1.5-2.2 kgs||Fish|
|Geoffroy’s cat||Southern areas of South America||Scrubby areas along rivers||2.6-6.5 kg||Small rodents and birds|
|Jaguar||South America and Central America. A few in USA
perhaps near the border with Mexico.
|Dense tropical forest||31-121||All sorts of prey. Wide range.|
|Jaguarundi||Mexico to Argentina. Florida, USA perhaps.||Wide range||3.5-7 kgs||Small animals like rodents and birds.|
|Jungle cat||Turkey to Vietnam. Wide range.||Swamps||3-10 kgs||Small animals|
|Kodkod||Chile, Argentina||Pine forest||1.5-2.8||Small mammals and birds|
|Leopard||Huge range. The biggest of all the wild cats||Many different places. Whatever it can adapt to.||17-70 kgs||Very wide range of prey|
|Leopard cat||Asia||Forests||2-4 kgs||Small mammals to insects|
|Lion||African and the Northwest of India (Gir Forest)||Wooded grassland||90-216 kgs||Hooved animals|
|Lynx – Canada||North America||Coniferous forest||5-17 kgs||Snowshoe hare|
|Lynx – Eurasian||Europe to Russia and Northern Asia||Forest||12-38 kg||Small mammals|
|Lynx – Iberian||Spain and Portugal||Scrublands and marshes||7-16 kgs||Rabbits|
|Manul||Russia to China and Afghanistan||Hillsides, high grasslands, rocky places in
|2.5-4.5||Gerbils, rodents, pika|
|Marbled cat||Asia||Tropical forest low down||2-5 kgs||Birds, lizards and rats|
|Margay||Mexico, Central and South America and possibly
|Forest||3-4 kgs||Rodents and birds plus fruit|
|Ocelot||Mexico, South and Central America||Forest to mangrove||6-16 kgs||Small mammals|
|Oncilla||South America and Central America||Forest||1.5-2.8 kgs||Rodents, lizards and insects|
|Pampas cat||South America||Open grassland||1.7-3.7||Wide range, small animals.|
|Puma||North to South America – wide range||Wide range of places – adaptable||25-80 kgs||Mice to moose – wide range of prey.|
|Rusty-spotted cat||India and Sri Lanka||Forest||Smallest cat at 0.8-1.6 kgs||Small mammals and birds|
|Sand cat||Africa to Uzbekistan||Sandy desert||1.3-3.4 kgs||Small animals including birds and reptiles|
|Serval||Africa||Grassland||7-18 kgs||Small mammals|
|Snow leopard||Central Asia||Mountainous rocky areas||22-50 kgs||Blue sheep|
|Tiger||Asia and Russia||Forest and woods||75-320 kgs – largest natural cat in the world||frogs to elephants!|
|Wildcat||Wide range||Wide range – very varied||2.4-7.7 kgs||Small animals such as rodents|
An important point that should be made before finishing is that a lot of the wild cats might disappear for ever if people are not more careful. The tiger is a good example. What happens is that people kill the animals that feeds the tiger. So the tiger has less food. That makes it harder to live. Also people use the same land that the tiger uses. People don’t leave the tiger enough space to live in. That also makes life harder for the tiger. Also some people kill the tiger so that they can eat it. That sounds horrible but it is true. They think it makes them stronger and better. Gradually over many years there are less and less tigers in the world. And then, one day, people might find that the only tigers left in the world are in zoos. This would make most people unhappy. But people are unable at the moment to change things.