This is a great picture of this medium-sized wild cat species called the jungle cat (Latin, scientific name Felis chaus) together with 15 selected facts. The picture was taken by Lynn Griffiths and is published on the Flickr website. Below are 15 facts about this cat which is less often discussed than other cat species partly, perhaps, because it’s appearances is fairly ‘ordinary’.
- The coat is short-haired and is pale brown but varying from a sandy-grey to rich tawny-red. There are very few markings but there are a few faint bands on the legs and tail. You can also see a modified version of the “M” tabby mark on the forehead.
- You could almost mistake this cat for a domestic cat but of course it is much larger at around 7 kg to 16 kg in weight (15.5-35 pounds).
- This is a long-legged cat and therefore fast moving at around 20 mph (I would expect them to travel faster than this but this is the recorded speed). It is described as being lankier than the average domestic cat. The face is long and fairly slim. The ears are rounded and at their tips there are distinct tufts of black hairs (lynx tipped).
- Sometimes there are melanistic jungle cats. This means that they are black due to a genetic mutation. Black jungle cats occur regularly in south-eastern Pakistan and they have also been seen in India.
- The map below this list tells you where that you might be lucky to see a jungle cat. In fact you would have to be very lucky and please note that their distribution is shrinking.
- They are sometimes more accurately referred to as the “reed cat” or “swamp cat” because of the habitat that they like to live in. They prefer tallgrass, thick brush, riverine swamps and reedbeds. They are not confined to this sort of habitat, however, because over much of peninsular India they live in drier and more open forest and grassland habitats.
- They are not strictly nocturnal and can be seen hunting during daylight hours, most often in the early morning and late afternoon (crepuscular). During the daytime they rest in dense cover out of sight among the reeds or thickets. They excavate burrows in desert areas.
- They mainly hunt on the ground as opposed to in trees. They capture prey by stealth using the typical stalk and ambush technique that domestic cat owners are familiar with.
- Being long-limbed, like the caracal (which is the highest jumping cat in my opinion) they can jump vertically in a very impressive manner in order to capture birds taking flight.
- They mainly feed on prey that weighs less than 1 kg. These might be mammals such as rats, mice and gerbils or squirrels. Birds are quite important to their diet and they will take various species of birds such as partridges, ducks, jungle fowl, larks, sparrows and pheasant. There will also feed on amphibians such as frogs and when necessary eat insects. Snakes are also on the menu. The jungle cat is also one of the cats that occasionally eats fruit. In one study in Uzbekistan the fruits of the Russian olive made up 17% of the jungle cats’ diet.
- This is a solitary cat but there is the normal social contact between mother and her young. Of course they come together to mate. When they do so the sequence is identical to that of the domestic cat.
- They make dens for their kittens in burrows or in the roots deep beneath trees or inside hollow trees.
- As many as six kittens have been recorded in a litter but the usual number in a litter is three. Kittens weigh from 43 to 55 g after two days. Kittens open their eyes between 10 and 13 days of age and they suckle until they are 90 days old. They take solid food at day 49 and are weaned by day 102.
- It is not clear whether they can be tamed and domesticated. There are reports that they tame easily and are not as aggressive as young African wildcats (the wild ancestor of the domestic cat!). In captivity they can live to around 10 years of age.
- Like all Wildcat species they are threatened by human activity and over the years they have been heavily exploited in some countries such as in India where over 300,000 jungle cat skins were held by traders at the time that their export was banned in 1979. Habitat loss is also a factor in threats against their survival. This is typical of any wild animal. The great issue of conservation is down to restricting human activity of all kinds which invariably undermines their survival in the wild.
This is a map made by me based on IUCN Red List information. It is dated 2009. It is still viable but the distribution is constantly shrinking due to human population growth and activities.
Click the picture below to see some facts for kids…
SOME MORE ON THE JUNGLE CAT: