Wild Cat Facts for Kids

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.

The small wild cat species do not hibernate because they can enjoy sufficient resources to feed on throughout the year
The small wild cat species do not hibernate because they can enjoy sufficient resources to feed on throughout the year

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 šŸ™‚

Wild Cat Facts For Kids
Wild Cat Facts For Kids – the Species
World Map for wild cat species for kids
World Map showing main areas – source: Wikimedia Commons – user Strebe
The information on the wild cat facts for kids in the chart below is basic stuff. There is lots there but I would ask that you look up more information if you’d like to. You can find lots more on this website if you search for it on this website. On the home page you’ll see a search box on the right-hand side of the page.

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.

Wild Cat
Where does it live?
What places does it
What size is it?
What does it eat?
African golden catAfricaForests8-16 kgsRodents
Andean catAndes Mountains, South AmericaRocky places4-5 kgsVizcacha
Asiatic golden catTibet to the island of SumatraForest8-16kgsSmall mammals
Bay catThe island of Borneo in AsiaTropical forest3-4 kgsSmall animals
Black-footed catSouth West AfricaDry and open places2 kgsGerbils
BobcatNorth AmericaAll kinds of different places4-18 kgsRabbits and hares
CaracalCentral and South East AfricaOpen grassland6-20 kgsWide range including guinea fowl and small
CheetahAfrica, Iran and AzerbaijanGrassland21-65Impala
Chinese desert catCentral ChinaMountains6-9 kgsPika
Clouded leopardEast AsiaForest12-23 kgsAnimals that live in trees and on the ground
Fishing catAsiaNear water5-12 kgsFish and other small animals
Flat-headed catThailand, Sumatra, Borneo and MalaysiaNear water1.5-2.2 kgsFish
Geoffroy’s catSouthern areas of South AmericaScrubby areas along rivers2.6-6.5 kgSmall rodents and birds
JaguarSouth America and Central America. A few in USA
perhaps near the border with Mexico.
Dense tropical forest31-121All sorts of prey. Wide range.
JaguarundiMexico to Argentina. Florida, USA perhaps.Wide range3.5-7 kgsSmall animals like rodents and birds.
Jungle catTurkey to Vietnam. Wide range.Swamps3-10 kgsSmall animals
KodkodChile, ArgentinaPine forest1.5-2.8Small mammals and birds
LeopardHuge range. The biggest of all the wild catsMany different places. Whatever it can adapt to.17-70 kgsVery wide range of prey
Leopard catAsiaForests2-4 kgsSmall mammals to insects
LionAfrican and the Northwest of India (Gir Forest)Wooded grassland90-216 kgsHooved animals
Lynx – CanadaNorth AmericaConiferous forest5-17 kgsSnowshoe hare
Lynx  – EurasianEurope to Russia and Northern AsiaForest12-38 kgSmall mammals
Lynx – IberianSpain and PortugalScrublands and marshes7-16 kgsRabbits
ManulRussia to China and AfghanistanHillsides, high grasslands, rocky places in
2.5-4.5Gerbils, rodents, pika
Marbled catAsiaTropical forest low down2-5 kgsBirds, lizards and rats
MargayMexico, Central and South America and possibly
Forest3-4 kgsRodents and birds plus fruit
OcelotMexico, South and Central AmericaForest to mangrove6-16 kgsSmall mammals
OncillaSouth America and Central AmericaForest1.5-2.8 kgsRodents, lizards and insects
Pampas catSouth AmericaOpen grassland1.7-3.7Wide range, small animals.
PumaNorth to South America –  wide rangeWide range of places – adaptable25-80 kgsMice to moose – wide range of prey.
Rusty-spotted catIndia and Sri LankaForestSmallest cat at 0.8-1.6 kgsSmall mammals and birds
Sand catAfrica to UzbekistanSandy desert1.3-3.4 kgsSmall animals including birds and reptiles
ServalAfricaGrassland7-18 kgsSmall mammals
Snow leopardCentral AsiaMountainous rocky areas22-50 kgsBlue sheep
TigerAsia and RussiaForest and woods75-320 kgs – largest natural cat in the worldfrogs to elephants!
WildcatWide rangeWide range – very varied2.4-7.7 kgsSmall animals such as rodents

An important point that should be made before finishing is that a lot of the wild cats might disappear forever 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.

12 thoughts on “Wild Cat Facts for Kids”

    • Hi Alexis, not all wild cats are dangerous. And the human is more dangerous than the wild cat. All the small cats up to the bobcat and lynx are not really dangerous. They consider people dangerous and the run from us. Even the cougar is not that dangerous. Domestic dogs are far far more dangerous than the cougar.

      • Yes, well said, Marissa. We should leave then alone. We should give them space to live. We generally don’t do either. We voraciously use up the planet. We expand in population size. We are users.


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