The Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a small wild cat native to continental South, Southeast, and East Asia. Leopard cat subspecies differ widely in fur color, tail length, skull shape, and size of carnassials. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Leopard cat was the first cat species domesticated in Neolithic China about 5,000 years ago in Shaanxi and Henan Provinces.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight (that is, the periods of dawn and dusk). This is distinguished from diurnal...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
An insectivore is a carnivorous plant or animal that eats insects. An alternative term is entomophage, which also refers to the human practice of e...
A piscivore is a carnivorous animal that eats primarily fish. Piscivorous is equivalent to the Greek-derived word ichthyophagous. Fish were the die...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
Predators are animals that kill and eat other organisms, their prey. Predators may actively search for or pursue prey or wait for it, often conceal...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
LeLeopard In The Name
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 shrubland, grassland, coniferous forest as well as tropical and temperate forest. The natural range of Leopard cats is in South and East Asia. The species is distributed across a 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 a 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, crabs, hares, mustelids, pigs, small ungulates as well as reptiles such as lizards. 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 latitudes, 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. Newly born kittens have closed eyes, which open within 10 days. The young are generally cared for by the female, sometimes by the male. The animals become fully independent at 8 months old and become reproductively mature when they are 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, the leopard cat is hunted for its meat and skin as well as captured for the pet industry.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Leopard cat total population size. However, there are estimated populations in the following areas: around 1,600 individuals in Russia; fewer than 2,500 individuals in Nepal; 100-150 individuals in Pakistan; around 50 individuals in Singapore; about 230,000 individuals in China. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
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 the numbers of their populations. Then, these cats play an 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, originating from the African wildcat of the Middle East. Beginning with the 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.