This picture by Reuters/Bernadett Szabo reminds us very starkly that although the small wild cats look cute and cuddly they are genuinely fierce and, yes, wild in character when handled by humans. They are, of course, unsocialised. But it is more than that. They have a fierceness which is impressive; like miniature tigers.
Some wild cats are more amenable to being domesticated than others. I am thinking of the cheetah, caracal, puma and snow leopard. But the leopard cat, aka Asiatic leopard cat, is known to be fiercely independent. If you want to ‘own’ one as you would a domestic cat you’ll have to keep them in a zoo enclosure because they ain’t going to be a pet in the home.
In the picture the handler is acutely aware that this little fella can hurt them. The kitten is seven weeks old and was born in Debrecen Zoo, Hungary. The zoo is currently closed due to the coronavirus crisis. The cat will not be visited by tourists which might be good for the cat as there will be less stress. That said the poor fella is going to isolated. Where is their mother? The kitten was deliberately bred at the zoo. The aim is to increase the captive leopard cat population in European zoos from 15 to 50.
Leopard cats are often killed on the roads of Asia and their numbers are declining due to general indirect or direct human persecution, which is typical of nearly all the wild cat species. You may remember that the popular domestic cat, the Bengal cat, is a wild cat hybrid. The wild cat part of the cat is the leopard cat. It is fair to argue that the creator of the breed, Jean Mill, made a mistake in creating a wild cat hybrid out of the leopard cat as for many years there were fears that the Bengal cat was too challenging. Mills also treated her breeding cats poorly in my view. Like most or all breeders they were kept caged up all their miserable lives.
SOME MORE ON THE ASIATIC LEOPARD CAT:
Heart-rending photograph of Asiatic leopard cat and her kitten lying next to each other, killed on road