Here are 10 wild cats that you probably never heard of:
(color indicates population threat)
- Chinese Mountain Cat - At about 15 pounds in weight, the Chinese Mountain Cat looks much like a common house cat. In fact, except for the tail, it closely resembles a Grey Tabby. Unlike some wild cats, this species lives a solitary life. They live in individual burrows in the ground. Their fur is used for clothing. Location: Found in the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, and Gansu, it is locally known the "Grass Cat". Diet: It preys upon small animals that make their home in the grasslands and forest edges.They feast on hamsters, moles, birds, and more.
- Pallas's Cat - There are two variations to this small cat that lives in Eurasia - red and grey. Hunted for its fur, and poisoned accidentally, the Pallas's Cat numbers are dwindling. It is sometimes confused with the Chinese Mountain Cat, but to experts, the two are distinct. They do not fare well on the open ground, so they favor ravines, rocks, and heavy plant areas. Location: There are in a circle that contains many countries. Mongolia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Iran are countries that are included in its habitat. Diet: A prey animal, they eat smaller animals such as gerbils, hamsters, birds, and ground squirrels.
- Sand Cat - Another small Tabby type cat, the grey Sand Cat is a desert cat, just like the name implies. They have a thick fur on the bottom of their feet that insulates from the scorching temperatures. Since water is scarce, these wild cats have adapted to survive solely on the water they receive from eating their prey. Location: These surprisingly adorable little furballs can be found in many countries across the Sahara Desert. They are also located in the desert areas of the Middle East. Diet: They eat the usual rodents, but due to their desert lifestyle, they will also eat snakes, scorpions, spiders, lizards, and anything else they can find.
- Rusty-spotted Cat - While some cats in this species resemble an Orange Tabby, some are more grey in color. Instead of the typical lines, they have spots of darker color. In fact, they are often mistaken for a domesticated feline. One of the smallest cat species, they are often called the "hummingbird of cats" Location: You will find these rare cats in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Diet: The Rusty-spotted Cat dines on mice, rats, and birds. They are also known to eat frogs and insects.
- Marbled Cat - With spots and wavy lines, this feline does have a "marbled" look to its grey and brown coat. With a really long tail, and a more "big cat" type face, this one resembles house cats less then the others we have looked at so far. With their preferred habitat being forested areas, they are expert climbers. Location: Their circle of habitation includes Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Burma. Diet: Their affinity for the trees means they dine on birds more than some other cats. Marbled Cats also have the typical diet of rodents.
Vogt, Karl Christoph, 1817-1895
- Geoffroy's Cat - In the Leopard family, this cat got its unusual name from the French zoologist, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Since this species is not threatened, there is quite a bit known about them. They live solitary lives, only coming together to mate. They regularly swim across rivers in their large hunting areas. Location: Living in South America, Geoffroy's Cats are found in Argentina, Uraguay, Brazil, and Chile. Diet: Like others, they eat rodents, rabbits, and birds. Depending on their living area, they will eat water birds such as flamingoes and swans.
- Jaguarundi - Related to the Puma, the Jaguarundi has a long body and long tail. The body is usually 20-25 inches long, with the tail being 10-15 inches long. They come in two color variations (Grey and Red), but the exact color will be anywhere on their color's spectrum. Like other small, wild cats, they do not form social groups except during mating seasons. Location: These South American cats are prolific. They can be found in virtually every country. They are even seen in Central America. One was observed as roadkill in the Southernmost area of Texas. Diet: They eat anything that moves. Their diet may vary depending on the area they live, but they eat opossums, rodents, rabbits, birds, and other animals.
- Black-footed Cat - This cat is the smallest cat in the world. It weighs in at 4 pounds or less when full grown. These cute, spotted cats are endangered for various reasons. They are preyed upon by bigger domestic cats and dogs. They are also commonly hit by cars. Fortunately, there are some in captivity to keep the breed alive. Location: These tiny terrors are fond of eating spiders. Wild specimens lived in South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The only known ones now are in captivity. Diet: The Philidelphia Zoo says that their Black-footed Cats love spiders. Although they are small, they can still kill and eat small birds and rodents.
- Flat-headed Cat - Like a raccoon, the Flat-headed Cat will wash objects in water. In fact, it spends all its time in and around water. They get their name from the flattened crown of their head. Their facial structures are normal. With this much time in and around water, pollution is the main thing that has made this species almost extinct. Location: You can find these rare creatures in the rivers, lakes, and swamps of Borneo, Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia. Diet: These water lovers consume mainly fish. They have distinct paws for this purpose.
Tangkulap Forest Reserve
- Caracal - When you see this majestic cat, you may immediately recognize the black plums that stick out from the top of the ears. If you are like me, you never knew its name. Also known as the "Desert Linx", they are not a true Linx. These are diverse, adaptable creatures and that is shown in their thriving population. Location: They are found in the dry lands of Africa, the Middle East, and India; however, they are not in full desert areas. Diet: As larger cats, the Caracal's diet is varied. They partake in rodents and birds, but also antelope and monkeys. Of course, this isn't their only meals, they hunt and eat most furry animals of the same sizes as these.