Jungle Cat

Jungle Cat

Reed cat, Swamp cat, Swamp lynx, Jungle cat, Reed cat, Swamp cat

4 languages
Felis chaus
Life Span
15 yrs
Top speed
32 km/h
2-16 kg
36 cm
59-76 cm

The jungle cat (Felis chaus ), also called reed cat and swamp cat, is a medium-sized cat native to the Middle East, the Caucasus, South and Southeast Asia and southern China. It inhabits foremost wetlands like swamps, littoral and riparian areas with dense vegetation. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and is mainly threatened by destruction of wetlands, trapping and poisoning.

Show More

The jungle cat has a uniformly sandy, reddish-brown or grey fur without spots; melanistic and albino individuals are also known. It is solitary in nature, except during the mating season and mother-kitten families. Adults maintain territories by urine spraying and scent marking. Its preferred prey is small mammals and birds. It hunts by stalking its prey, followed by a sprint or a leap; the ears help in pinpointing the location of prey. Both sexes become sexually mature by the time they are one year old; females enter oestrus from January to March. Mating behaviour is similar to that in the domestic cat: the male pursues the female in oestrus, seizes her by the nape of her neck and mounts her. Gestation lasts nearly two months. Births take place between December and June, though this might vary geographically. Kittens begin to catch their own prey at around six months and leave the mother after eight or nine months.

The species was first described by Johann Anton Güldenstädt in 1776 based on a specimen caught in a Caucasian wetland. Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber gave the jungle cat its present binomial name and is therefore generally considered as binomial authority. Three subspecies are recognised at present.

Show Less


This cat’s name comes from the Caucasus Mountains, the place this cat was first discovered. In Asia, it is the Jungle cat, but in Africa, it is commonly named “reed cat” or “swamp cat”, due to its preference for wet habitats. The Jungle cat is large and slender, and its plain coat ranges from reddish to sandy yellow in the south of its range, whereas in the north its color is shades of gray. It has light brown stripes on its legs and several rings on its tail, which ends in a dark tip. Its rounded ears are tipped with short tufts of hair, which are black.



The Jungle cat is most prevalent in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. It is also found in Egypt, and throughout southwest Asia, southeast Asia and Central Asia, extending its range as far as the south of China. Jungle cats are usually found in swamps and wetlands, on flood plains, and within dense coastal vegetation at altitudes that are relatively low. Although they are nearly always associated with dense vegetation and water, these cats may also occur in a wide range of other types of habitat, including deserts, where they live near oases and along riverbeds, as well as in woodland, grassland, and dry deciduous forests.

Jungle Cat habitat map

Climate zones

Jungle Cat habitat map
Jungle Cat
Attribution-ShareAlike License

Habits and Lifestyle

The Jungle cat is not nocturnal, unlike many other wild cats, and does much of its hunting in the early mornings and late afternoons. It typically rests during the day in dense cover but often sunbathes on cold winter days. It likes water and is a good swimmer, diving into the water to catch fish using its mouth or to escape from danger. Scent markings and rubbing scent on objects are done by males to mark their territory, their home range typically overlapping that of several females. The Jungle cat is usually a solitary animal and only socializes with others of its species during the breeding season. Family groups of a male and a female with their kittens have been reported in the wild, however.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Jungle cats are carnivorous creatures and mostly prey on rodents, lizards, frogs, snakes, birds, fish, insects, hares, and livestock. During the winter they may supplement their diet with some fruit.

Mating Habits

63-66 days
2-3 kittens
8-9 months

Jungle cats are polygynandrous, with males and females both having multiple mates throughout their lives. Both genders use intensive mew calls to attract potential mates. The mating season is from January to March, differing somewhat with geographic location. After a gestation of 63 to 66 days, a litter usually numbering two or three kittens is born. Up to six kittens may be born in one litter, and these cats can have two litters within one year. Kittens begin to be weaned at around day 49, weaning being completed at 15 weeks old. These cats live in families with a mother, father, and their kittens during the time that the young are being reared. Kittens reach independence at 8 to 9 months old and become reproductively mature at 11 to 18 months old.


Population threats

The Jungle cat is under threat by habitat loss and hunting by humans, and its prey numbers have been reduced by the conversion of its natural habitat. The highly adaptable cat has therefore fed on livestock and this has caused conflict with farmers, who lay traps and poisons. This species is also threatened by the fur trade, and illegal trading still takes place in Egypt, India, and Afghanistan.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the Jungle cat is considered common in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In Europe, the Jungle Cat is of marginal occurrence with only 500 animals in the Caucasus region of Russia. This species is considered threatened in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. Although globally this species is classified as Least Concern (LC), its numbers are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Jungle cats are speedy runners; a cat in Iran was recorded running at 20 miles per hour.
  • The scientific name of Jungle cats is Felis Chaus, which has given rise to the name for the chausie, which is a hybrid of a domestic cat and a jungle cat.
  • Jungle cats catch their prey by stalking it, as a domestic cat does. It also jumps into the air to catch birds, the way the caracal does. Like the serval, it will boldly leap over the ground onto its prey.
  • Vocalizations made by the Jungle cat are meowing, chirping, purring, growling, gurgling, hissing, and barking.
  • When Jungle cats rub their cheeks against something, they leave their saliva, which is a scent marker for others of their species. They also rub their cheeks against others’ scent markings in order to "pick up" their scents, and males will often cheek rub females.
  • Jungle cats' front and back feet all have claws, enabling them to easily climb trees both going up and going down.
  • In the past the Jungle cat was mummified and put into tombs in Egypt.


1. Jungle Cat Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungle_cat
2. Jungle Cat on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/8540/0

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About