There are lots of wild cat species worldwide. Most people know the bigger species, such as tigers, lions, and leopards. However, there are many other types of wild cats. These cat species are spread worldwide from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to South America. Also, most of them have similar characteristics. After all, they are all cats. Here is a look at the 20 different types of wild cats.
20. Sand Cat (Felis margarita)
The sand cat is one of the smallest wild cat breeds. It has an average weight of up to 8 pounds. The cat species resembles a cute, cuddly domestic cat but lives in a harsh desert habitat. Sand cats are native to deserts, rocky valleys, and grasslands of North Africa and the Middle East. These places have extremely high temperatures that hit 126 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime.
19. Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)
The fishing cat derives its name from its ability to swim. This cat is unique from other cats because it’s a skilled and strong swimmer. You can easily spot it due to its partially webbed feet and a thick, waterproof undercoat. These adaptations enable the fishing cat to swim perfectly, even under the water. It is a medium-sized cat species growing to a length of four feet and weighing between 11 to 35 pounds. As you would expect, this cat mostly feeds on fish and small rodents. According to Britannica, the fishing cat is mostly found in southern Asia and India.
18. Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata)
Next on the list of the 20 different types of wild cats is the marbled cat. This is one of the most attractive small cats with a beautifully patterned coat and long tail. The cat species is found throughout the Himalayan mountain’s foothills throughout Malaysia and the Sumatra and Borneo islands. These cats are mostly found on trees. They are incredible climbers and spend most of their life on the trees.
17. Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi)
The jaguarundi is relatively bigger than a domestic cat. These cats are native to Belize, Mexico, Central America, and South America. This cat species weighs around 8 to 16 pounds and has a characteristic solid gray or brown coat. The cat is popular as a splendid jumper who can jump more than six feet in the air to hunt its prey. When hunting, it moves swiftly and low to the ground, allowing it to hunt small rodents and rabbits successfully.
16. Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul)
The Pallas’s cat, also known as Manul, is found in central Asia’s arid and cold steppes. This species is a small cat that grows up to two feet long and weighs around ten pounds. Also referred to as the wild rock cat or steppe cat, this species is sometimes spotted in Pakistan, Iran, and China. Like cat breeds inhabiting the cold areas, the Pallas’s cat has adapted to a high attitude and winter climate. The cat has stocky, thick, and fluffy fur. For its size, this cat mostly hunts small mammals and pikas.
15. Serval (Leptailurus serval)
The serval is one of the most popular breeds of small cats. You will know a serval when you see one due to its characteristic, unusual looking black nose and extremely big ears. They love spending their time on plains and grasslands. According to Active Wild, servals are found throughout southern and eastern Africa. They most love staying near small towns where their prey is populous, and the larger predators are absent.
14. Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes)
The black-footed cat is the smallest in the world. The cat weighs 2kg and grows to a standing height of 0.25 meters. It is nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. The black-footed cat is mostly spotted on the grassy plains and desert areas of Namibia and South Africa. According to research, cats can hunt and eat up to 3,000 rodents a year and are greatly adapted to the desert by their ability to obtain the sufficient moisture they need from their food.
13. Colocolo (Leopardus colocolo)
Colocolo is a small cat that is tremendously odd. According to Fandom, they have a brown appearance and are relatively fuzzy, probably not resembling what you would expect when you think of a wild cat. Colocolo is found throughout South America, including Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil.
12. Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
Ocelots are one of the most elegant, beautiful wild cats across the world. They look like miniature leopards, featuring a beautiful, thick coat with black spots. This medium-sized cat species grows to approximately 3 ½ feet long and weighs up to 32 pounds. Ocelots are found across Central and South America and some southern areas of Texas. These cats are also found in Brazil and Barro Colorado Islands in Panama. Ocelots are great swimmers, runners, and climbers, which makes them excellent predators.
11. Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
Bobcat is a relatively small cat that grows to about twice the size of a domestic cat. According to National Geographic, its name is derived from its baobab or stubby tail. Most bobcats are brownish red or brown with a white underbelly and black-tipped tail. The species is extremely common and can be found across southern Canada, central Mexico, and throughout the U.S. with a medium-sized body, the bobcat preys on rabbits, small deer, birds, chickens, or even insects.
10. Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)
Eurasian lynx is another medium-sized wildcat species and the largest of all four lynx species. The cats weigh between 30 and 60 pounds and are the 3rd biggest European predator. Eurasian lynx is found across a large geographical distribution, including central and east Asia, Europe, and Siberia. These cats prey on small mammals such as hares, rabbits, small deer, and sometimes deer. They are mostly nocturnal and will only hunt during the day when there is food scarcity. While the Eurasian lynx is one of the most significantly distributed species worldwide, its populations are threatened by hunting and habitat loss.
9. Caracal (Caracal caracal)
Caracal is a Turkish name meaning ‘black ears. These medium-sized wild cats are common in the Middle East, across Africa, and parts of India and Asia. Their unique characteristics include their tufted ears, stocky body with long legs, and uniform sandy color. They grow to around 0.5 meters tall, weighing approximately twelve to twenty kgs. Also worth noting, caracals are spectacular acrobats with the ability to leap up to three meters into the air.
8. Cougar (Puma concolor)
Cougars are also referred to as mountain lions, pumas, or panthers. They have characteristic sandy-colored fur and a cream-colored belly, weighing up to 136 pounds. This cat species is found across North America, from Canada to South America. They stay in different habitats, from barren deserts to high-altitude, dense forests. Like most animals, cougars are nocturnal and often predate at night and in the early morning. They hunt coyotes, small deer, and other potential prey, killing them with a ferocious bite to the neck.
7. Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
The cheetah is the fastest cat on earth. They easily outrun their prey, sprinting to a speed of up to 80 miles per hour. When it comes to their appearance, cheetahs have a characteristic light brown fur with small black spots. They mostly prefer open plain grasslands where there is plenty of prey around. The largest population of cheetahs are found in eastern and southern Africa, while some are found in northern Africa and Iran. They are solitary cats spending only eighteen months with their mothers before going off on their own. However, brothers often form a coalition for easier hunting.
6. Jaguar (Panthera onca)
Jaguar is the third biggest wild cat worldwide, weighing 265 pounds. They are characterized by a white belly and cinnamon brown body with dark brown spots surrounded by black rings. These cats are mostly found in Central America and South America, although their populations have decreased greatly over the last few centuries. Most of the jaguar population is found in Brazil. Around 170,000 jaguars live in the canopy of the tropical rainforest and wetland of the Pantanal. These land mammals can run at a top speed of 50 miles per hour.
5. Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)
Snow leopards look much like leopards and jaguars, with their characteristic rosette spots along the light fur. They have thicker fur reaching five inches along the bellies to keep them warm. But despite their name and appearance, these cats are more related to tigers than leopards. Snow leopards are adapted to snowy, cold environments and often live in high-altitude areas. They are commonly found in central and northern Asia, in Nepal. The cats particularly love the Himalayas, where they stay in the high mountains. Snow leopards are highly agile and excellent hunters, easily navigating unstable and steep rocky cliffs. They leap up to an incredible thirty feet when pouncing on their prey.
4. Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)
The clouded leopard is a medium-sized cat characterized by a light brown fur coat with irregular and intricate darker spots and stripes along the body. These cats are commonly found in eastern India, Bangladesh, Sumatra, Borneo, Nepal, and China. Male clouded leopards weigh up to about 50 pounds, while females weigh between 25 and 35 pounds. They stay in forests and are the few animals able to climb down trees headfirst. Clouded leopards mostly prey on different monkey species, small deer, and boars, pouncing them from tree hideouts or chasing them on the ground. They run at a top speed of up to 40 miles per hour.
3. Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Leopards are majestic wild cats. These cats have lightly brown colored fur with small black spots referred to as rosettes. Leopards are solitary animals that mark and defend their territories from other leopards. Male and female leopards come together during the mating season and then return to their territories. These elegant cats are mostly found in Sub-Saharan Africa, some parts of northeast Africa, Central Asia, China, and India. Leopards are opportunist hunters that prey on anything from small to big mammals. They normally stalk their prey until they get close to the animal and then jump out from their hiding with a big hop killing the prey with a vicious bite to the throat or neck. If they need to chase their prey, they can run as fast as 36 miles per hour.
2. Lion (Panthera leo
Lions are the second largest wild cats and one of the most popular in the world. These notorious cats roam sub-Saharan Africa’s woodlands, savannas, grasslands, and plains. A small population of lions is also found in the deep forest of western India. According to Lionalert.org, female lions weigh up to 280 pounds while males can weigh up to 420 pounds. Also, male lions have a characteristic mane around their head and produce a roar that travels up to five miles. Lions are apex predators that use their incredible strength, speed, and coordinated hunting skills to hunt zebras, wildebeest, antelopes, and potential prey.
1. Tiger (Panthera tigris)
Tiger is the biggest cat in the world. These cats are mostly found across Asia, easily spotted for their bright orange bodies and black stripes. Their underbodies have a cream color. The cats are found in grasslands, rainforests, savannas, and sometimes in mangrove swamps. Tigers grow to 300 to 660 pounds, depending on the species. Some common tiger species include; the Siberian tiger, Bengal tiger, and Malayan tiger. The rare white tigers are Siberian or Bengal tigers that suffer from leucistic conditions, giving them reduced pigmentation. Tigers are ferocious hunters that run up to 40 miles per hour with large canines that drive deep into the prey.
These are some of the different wild cat species found worldwide. Every cat species has its own habitual range, from entire continents to small islands. Ultimately, the best places to spot any of these species is at natural reserves in their natural territories. Because wild animals are always protected in these reservations, their populations tend to be higher. More so, the knowledge of the tour guides will be immense.