The Leopard cat is about the size of a large housecat. The head of the animal is small, eyes are round and the muzzle is short. The pale wool of the animal is generally tawny colored while the belly is white. They have rosettes all over their body and tail, while the tip of the tail is often ringed. The animals exhibit four stripes on their forehead, running down to their necks. Various populations of Leopard cats differ in coat length and color, depending on habitat and environmental conditions of the area. Thus, in northern parts of their range, the animals are usually heavier, showing paler and longer coat. Meanwhile, those, living in snowy habitats, exhibit lighter coat in contrast with cats, living in densely forested habitats and having dark-tawny fur.
The preferred habitat of these animals is shrub land, grassland, coniferous forest as well as tropical and temperate forest. The natural range of Leopard cats is South and East Asia. The species is distributed across vast territory, stretching southwards from the Amur region in the Russian Far East to China, south-east to the Korean Peninsula and south-west to Indochina, reaching the Philippines and the Sunda islands of Indonesia; then westwards, to the Indian Subcontinent and northern Pakistan.
The Leopard cat is a solitary animal, which usually hunts at night, roaming throughout its range and looking for prey. The animal generally spends the daytime hours resting in trees. In order to define its territory, the Leopard cat either uses scent-marks or scratches trees within its home range. The size of the animal's territory may vary, depending on factors such as the amount of available habitat and the level of resource competition on a given territory. The acute eyesight combined with developed senses of smell and hearing, ensure successful hunt. In addition, the Leopard cats have excellent climbing and swimming abilities. Normally, these animals are quiet, though they can occasionally purr and cry like domestic cats.
The Leopard cat is generally a carnivore, feeding upon small terrestrial vertebrates. The diet of the animal includes also insects, insectivores, birds, snakes, eels, fish, crab, hares, mustelids, pigs, small ungulates as well as reptiles such as lizard. They can also consume carrion on occasion.
Leopard cats have polygynous mating system. The home range of a male cat can sometimes overlap with those of many females. Leopard cats, living in southeastern Asia, mate at any time of year, whereas those, living in more northern latitude, typically breed from January to March. The gestation period last for 65 - 70 days, after which the female yields 1 - 4 babies with an average of 2 - 3 per litter. Newborn leopard cats have closed eyes, which open within 10 days. The young are generally cared by the female, sometimes by male. The animals become fully independent at 8 months old, and are sexually mature at 18 months old.
Forest cover is not a decisive factor for these animals, when compared to other species. However, Leopard cats currently suffer from loss and fragmentation of habitat throughout their natural range. Also, the animal is frequently killed due to being considered a poultry pest. And finally, leopard cat is hunted for its meat and skin as well as captured for the pet industry.
This species is widespread and relatively common.The total population of the Leopard cat is presently stable, being estimated to 50,000 individuals. On the IUCN Red List, the species is classified as Least Concern.
As predators, these animals hugely control rodent species populations. Also, due to their diet, Leopard cats benefit humans. Firstly, they consume small vertebrate pests in rural areas and agricultural lands, thus reducing numbers of their populations. Then, these cats play important role in disease control throughout the area of their habitat.
According to archeological and morphometric studies, domestication of this animal began at least 5000 years ago in Neolithic China. Thus, the Leopard cat was the first domesticated species among all cats. However, these animals were subsequently replaced with cats, originated from the African wildcat of the Middle East. Beginning with 1960s, Leopard cats have been mated with domestic cats, yielding a hybrid species called "Bengal cat", which can be kept as a pet without a license.