What Do Wild Cats Eat?

What Do Wild Cats Eat?

by Michael

A list of the main or primary prey item of each the 36 wild cat species is listed below. Scientists work this out by studying scats (feces) and stomach contents. The prey item is dependent on the geographic location so the details here are definitive across the range of the individual wild cat species listed.

Sometimes little is known about certain wildcats. It is surprising to be told that in 2012. I only list the number one prey item for each cat, please note. All wildcats feed on a range of animals and insects, even vegetation (snow leopard). But I think it is interesting to strip down the list and just look at the kind of prey that the individual wildcats prefer.

I list the wild cats in order of their size and weight starting with the heaviest:

Siberian tiger – Wild pig and Wapiti (elk – largest species of deer in the world).

Bengal tiger – Axis deer (Kanda), hog deer (Chitwan).

Lion – Wildebeest (Serengeti), buffalo (Manyara).

Jaguar – Armadillo (Belize).

Puma – Hare (Chile), mule deer (Texas).

Leopard – Wild goat (Himalayas), bat-eared fox (Kalahari Gemsbok NP, South Africa), Thomson’s gazelle (Serengeti, Africa), Maxwell’s duiker (Ivory Coast).

Cheetah – Thomson’s gazelle.

cheetah chasing Thomson's gazelle

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Cheetah chasing Thomson’s gazelle – Wikimedia Commons image.

Snow leopard – Bharal (Himalayas). Bharal are blue sheep.

Eurasian lynx – Reindeer (Norway), rabbit (Spain).

Clouded leopard – unknown but includes sambar, muntjac, leaf monkey.

Caracal – Tolai hare (Turkmenia), Hyrax and Reedbuck (South Africa). Hyrax are small (2-5 kg) herbivorous mammals. Reedbuck are antelopes.

Serval – rodents, shrews.

Bobcat – Snowshoe hare (Maine), rabbits (Arkansas), hares and rabbits (Texas – Big Bend National Park), cotton rat and rabbits (Florida).

bobcat feeding on grey squirrel
Bobcat feeding on grey squirrel. Photo by randomtruth (Flickr)

Canada lynx – Snowshoe hare.

Asiatic golden cat – probably rodents (little is known about this cat’s feeding habits).

African golden cat – small mammals (rats) and duikers. Duikers are small antelope.

Iberian lynx – rabbit.

OcelotProechimys – spiny rats.

Fishing cat – fish probably but also aquatic birds and small mammals.

Jungle cat – rodents

Chinese desert cat – rodents.

European wildcat – pine vole (Italy), pine vole (Azerbaijan).

wildcat eating a bird
Wildcat feeding on a bird.

Jaguarundi – rabbits, rodents.

Geoffroys’ cat – small rodents and birds.

African-Asian wildcat – Murid rodents (murids are small mammals from between 3 to 19 inches in length excluding tail).

Andean mountain cat – unclear but includes: small mammals (viscachas), ground dwelling birds and lizards.

Marbled cat – birds, rats, squirrel.

Manul (Pallas’s cat) – pikas, gerbils, voles.

Bay cat – unknown.

Margay – small rodents.

Leopard cat – murids (small mammals such as rats etc.)

Pampas cat – small mammals including guinea pigs and viscachas, and ground birds.

Sand cat – rodents (Rhomomys opimus).

Oncilla – small rodents (e.g. mice).

Kodkod – birds (e.g. Southern lapwing) and small rodents.

Black-footed cat – Murid rodents.

Flat-headed cat – Murid rodents.

Rusty-spotted cat – small mammals and birds.

Feral domestic cat – rabbit (Australia), black rats (New Zealand), rabbit (Scotland).


1. The Natural History of the Wild Cats pages 106-142 ISBN 0-8014-8498-7
2. Wild Cats of the World ISBN-13: 978-0-226-77999-7

What Do Wild Cats Eat? to Wild Cat Species

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