Asian Leopard Cat
Felis or Prionailurus bengalensis

Asian Leopard Cat owned by Jan Giacinto of Cheetah 11

General Description

The Leopard Cat is about the size of a house cat, with longer legs. Their weight ranges from 7 to 15 pounds. The base fur color is usually a pale brown, but can also be red or grey. The cats living in the cooler climates tend to be larger and lighter in color. Those in the warm humid areas are smaller and darker. The cat is covered with dark brown to black spots or rosettes. Leopard Cats usually have four stripes running from the forehead to behind the neck. The spotted belly, chest, throat, and cheek-flashes are usually white. The Leopard Cat has a large white spot on the back of their long rounded black ears. The cat's head is relatively small and has large eyes. Their tail is spotted at the base. Rings move up the tail to the black tip. Soles of the feet are dark brown.

Singapore Zoological Gardens

Names

English Bengal cat
French chat leopard du Bengale
German Bengalkatze
Spanish gato bengali, gato de Bangala
Chinese jin chien mao, bao mao
(called the Money Cat in China)
Malaysian kucing batu, thit kyuk
Russian Amurskii kot, bengalskaya koshka
Indian chita billi

Distribution and Habitat

Leopard Cats are one of the most common and widely distributed wild cats of Southern Asia. The cats can be found not only in Asia but also in Korea, China, and Eastern Russia. Their range includes the islands of Sumatra, Bali, Java, Borneo, Philippines, and Taiwan. They can live in tropical forests, scrublands, pine forests, secondgrowth woodland, semideserts, and agricultural regions.

Subspecies

Because of the Leopard Cat's extended range, this has led to fragmentation, resulting a number of subspecies.

F.(P.)b. bengalensis India to Indo-China and Yunnan
F.(P.)b. borneoenisis Borneo
F.(P.)b. chinensis China and Taiwan
F.(P.)b. euptilura The Far Eastern forest cat, East Siberia
F.(P.)b. horsfieldi Kashmir to Sikkim
F.(P.)b. javanensis Java and Bali
F.(P.)b. amanchurica Manchuria
F.(P.)b. minuta Philippines
F.(P.)b. sumatrans Sumatra
F.(P.)b. trevelyani North Kashmir to South Baluchistan, Pakistan

Source: The Wild Cat Trust

Hunting and Diet

The Leopard Cat generally hunts alone at night. They hunt on the ground or ambush their prey from trees, surviving on a diet of rodents, small birds, amphibians, fish, insects, reptiles, eggs, and small mammals, including small deer. They may also dine on fallen bats and swifts near caves.

Behavior

The Leopard Cat is primarily nocturnal, although Leopard Cat activity has been spotted during the day. A male's territory ranges from less than one kilometer on an island to nine kilometers on the mainland. They make their dens in tree hollows, small caves, or in holes beneath the roots of fallen trees. Leopard cats are strong swimmers, thus how they have populated offshore islands. According to Barbara Sleeper, author of Wild Cats of the World, "the type specimen was originally caught swimming in the Bay of Bengal." Additionally, they are agile climbers, being at home in trees. The Leopard Cat lifespan is about ten to fifteen years.

Unless you are experienced with wild cats and have had the wild cat since it was a new born kitten, in general, Leopard Cats do not make good pets. Being a wild animal and solitary in nature, they do not welcome being touched or handled by humans. Also due to their wild nature, they could pose a threat to children and other pets. Many states require special permits to have wild cats.

Singapore Zoological Gardens

Reproduction

Females give birth to one to four kittens, usually two to three, after a gestation period of nine to ten weeks (56 to 72 days). The male has been known to help rear the kittens. At about ten days old, the kittens open their eyes. They eat meat at about three weeks, and leave the den at about four weeks. The Leopard Cat reaches sexual maturity at eighteen months.

Threats

The principle threat to the Leopard Cat, as well as other wild animals, is habitat destruction. This is especially a problem for cats and other species living on islands, where their populations and habitat are small to begin with. The Leopard Cat is considered a pest and killed when they raid poultry farms. On the contrary, however, palm oil and rubber tree plantations report that the cat helps to control the rodent population. The Leopard Cat, like so many other wild cats, is hunted for the fur trade, trophies, sport, and meat for the dinner table. Throughout Asia, pelts are sold in gift shops, and about 200,000 pelts a year are shipped from China.

"Animals are among the conductors of life's
greatest symphonies. They exist not solely
for our convenience or fancy, but are an
important rhythm to the planet we share."

Darcy Bell Symes, Animals Magazine, 1981






Written by Holly Erickson




Click here to learn about the
Leopard Cat subspecies, F.(P.)b. euptilura,
also known as the
Amur Leopard Cat or Far Eastern Forest Cat.


 

 



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This page last updated 05/07/10



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