What does the golden cat look like?

There are two species of golden cat: the Asiatic golden cat and the African golden cat.

African golden cat

This excellent camera trap picture shows you what the African golden cat looks like.

Famous Camera Trap Photo of African Golden Cat
Famous Camera Trap Photo of African Golden Cat
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And below is a description in words from Mel and Fiona’s excellent book, Wild Cats Of The World.

This smallish wild cat is about twice the size of a domestic cat. It is more robust that a domestic cat which is typical of wild cats. As is usual, males are larger than females. The face is round. The muzzle is heavy. The ears are not tufted (hair does not come out of the tip of the ear flap). The backs of the ears are almost completely black. The tail represents about one third of its head and body length. The tail may be banded, unbanned or in between these forms. There are no obvious facial markings except for lighter fur colour above the eyes and on the lower part of the cheeks. Some individuals have stripes or dark spots on the head. Some cats are melanistic, meaning black. This happens with other wild cat species such as the bobcat and serval.

Notable: the fur ‘from just in front of the shoulders to the crown of the head changes direction and points forward. The junction of the change in direction of the hair pattern is marked by whorls and a low, crest-like ridge’.

The most interesting aspect of the appearance of the golden cat is that it is not always golden in colour! Its fur varies tremendously in colour and markings. It might be orange-red (golden) to sepia-grey and each colour phase may be spotted all over, unspotted or somewhere in between. It is believed by some specialists that the golden cats from western Africa tend to be heavily spotted while those from eastern Africa are more likely to be unspotted. It is appears to be agreed by some experts that there are two distinct races. Others say that this cat species is ‘highly polymorphic’ (very variable in appearance).

Also the cat’s coat might change colour over months as evidenced by a captive golden cat at London Zoo whose coat changed from red to grey over four months. The changes don’t appear to be linked to age, sex or season.

The undersides, chest and throat are always white or whitish. The belly has strong dark spots or blotches.

Asiatic golden cat

Asiatic golden cat
Asiatic golden cat

This species is about the same size as the ocelot and slightly heavier than the African variant. The tail is also longer. Once again this is a cat of many colours. The Asiatic golden cat’s coat ‘may be golden brown to dark brown, pale cinammon, bright red, or gray’.

The coat is normally uniform in colour but there may be spots and stripes as found on the leopard cat. The backs of the ears are black, The ears are rounded and short. There are strong symmetrical white lines on the face which are bordered with black to make the markings more contrasty. The underside of the last third of the tail is white while the upper part is brown.


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