The leopard cat is not the common leopard. It is a much smaller wild cat species, about the same size as a domestic cat. Its scientific name is Prionailurus bengalensis. The domestic Bengal cat, a wildcat hybrid, was created from a cross between the leopard cat and a domestic cat. The name of this cat is either leopard cat, Asian leopard cat or Asiatic leopard cat. The first version is the one used by the authors of the best book on wild cats.
So what does the leopard cat eat?
“Leopard cats feed on a variety of small prey, including mammals, lizards, amphibians, birds, and insects.” – Wild Cats Of The World. 2002
This information is from 2002. However, it is very likely to be the same today. The leopard cat’s diet various according to where they live. In Java, they mainly eat small ground-living mammals; rats and mice. Although they also ingest (eat deliberately?) leaves and one species of herb. In Pakistan, they feed mainly on small birds and to a lesser extent wood mice and flying squirrels. In Thailand (Huai Kha Khaeng) the primarily prey is the rat. In other parts of Thailand the rat also featured as the dominant prey. On Tsushima Island, Japan, rats were also the primary prey. Moles, birds, amphibians and a large number of insects were also eaten by the leopard cat in Japan. On Iriomote Island, Japan, the leopard cat’s diet includes 95 different animals and insects. Rats are the main prey item. Flying foxes and skinks are also eaten as are insects, crabs and amphibians.
In Tabin (Tabin Wildlife Reserve is a nature preserve in Sabah, Malaysia) mammals formed the bulk of the leopard cat’s diet (96%) of which rats at 89% are the main prey item as reported by R Rajaratnam in Ecology of the leopard cat (2000) a PhD dissertation.
It is quite clear from my reading on this topic that rats are the main prey item of the leopard cat where they are available. It is an interesting contrast to the lack of enthusiasm and worse demonstrated by the modern domestic cat when confronted with a rat.
SOME MORE ON THE LEOPARD CAT…
Heart-rending photograph of Asiatic leopard cat and her kitten lying next to each other, killed on road