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Leopard Cat

Leopard CatThe '''Leopard Cat''' (''Prionailurus bengalensis'', sometimes ''Felis bengalensis'') or '''Bengal Cat''' is a small wild cat of Asia. On average it is a domestic cat but there are considerable regional differences, in Indonesia; the average size is 45 cm, plus 20 cm tail, while it is 60 cm/40cm in Amur region. The fur is also quite variable; it is yellow in the southern populations, but silver-grey in the northern ones. Leopard cats bear black markings that may be dependent on the sub-species ; spots and rosettes.

Zoological name: Prionailurus bengalensis'', sometimes ''Felis bengalensis

Species: Leopard cats are usually classified in the genus Felis, but Wozencraft (1993) in his recent review of cat taxonomy put them in the genus Prionailurus. This reflects that the leopard cat’s relationship with the other members of the genus (the flat-headed cat P. planiceps; rusty-spotted cat P. rubiginosus; fishing cat P. viverrinus) is closer than it is to the other cats.
There are between seven and ten recognised leopard cat subspecies:
- F. (P.) b. bengalensis India to Indo-China and Yunnan
- F. (P.) b. borneoensis 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. manchurica Manchuria
- F. (P.) b. minuta Philippines
- F. (P.) b. sumatrans Sumatra
- F. (P.) b. trevelyani North Kashmir to South Baluchistan, Pakistan

Presence on the planet: Leopard cats are one of the most common and widely distributed felids, from the dense tropical forests of Sumatra to the Manchurian and Siberian taiga. Distributed as far north as North Korea and the Amur basin and as far south as Bali, the leopard cat’s range extends towards Pakistan through northern India, the southern Himalaya, Bangladesh, Burma, and Indo-China. They are found on the Philippines, Borneo and Java and several island near Japan.

Habitat: The habitat of this cat is forests - subpolar coniferous forests as well as tropical rainforests. It lives close to water courses and may be found in the heights up to 3000m. The leopard cat can climb trees skilfully. It is able to swim, but will seldom do so.
Leopard Cats
Physical appearance: The colour of P. bengalensis varies somewhat throughout its range. Leopard cats tend to be yellowish-brown in the tropics and greyish-brown in the northern parts of their range . Most often, they are pale tawny on the upper parts and white on the underparts . The body and tail are covered with dark spots, with stripes running down the back of the head. These break into short bands and elongated spots down the middle of the back. The tail has indistinct rings toward its tip. P. bengalensis measures 60-90 cm (head and body) with a tail length of 28-37 cm and a shoulder height of 20-45 cm. There is sexual dimorphism; males weigh more than females. The eyes are outlined with white stripes that originate at the internal corners and streak across the cheeks.

Diet: Leopard cats are, like most felids, opportunists, and they will prey on hares, rodents, reptiles, moles, insects, amphibians, game birds, fish, mouse deer and the fawns of roe deer. Grass and eggs may supplement their diets. They are known to raid poultry and to tackle aquatic prey in the water.

Reproduction & Offspring: One to four (usually two or three) kittens are born, about May, in a hollow tree or rock cavity. Gestation takes about 56 to 72 days. At birth the kittens weigh about 75 to 130 grammes. They open their eyes when they are about ten days old, and start to eat meat by 23 days. Sexual maturity is reached at 18 months. If the kittens are removed from the mother, she is able to have another litter that year. A captive leopard cat has lived for 13 years.

Conservation status: In recent years, mainly due to the high profile of conservation measures on 'Big Cat' fur trading, emphasis of trading has moved to the smaller wild cat species and the leopard cat is under continued threat from hunting in many parts of its range. The leopard cat P.b.bengalensis is listed in CITES Appendix 1, while all other species are listed in Appendix 2. The IUCN Red List has the Philippine leopard cat as Vulnerable but other leopard cats as Least Concern.

Life span: 10-13 years
Some interesting information about leopard cat!

Leopard cats are most active at twilight and night, but radio-collared individuals have also been out during the day. They are excellent swimmers and have populated many offshore islands. They are also good climbers and often hunt in the trees. Leopard cats make dens in hollow trees or small caves and the male may help the female rear the young.


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