Asian Leopard Cat
Also called “a picture of perfect beauty”, the Leopard cat (Prionailurus Bengalensis) gets its name from the African big cat, but it is considerably smaller in size, resembling domestic cats. It is mainly the spotted coat that suggests a leopard and the longer legs that make it different from household cats.
Weighing 6-15 pounds and being 35-38 inches in length, it is the most common feline of southern Asia.
These beautiful cat-like animals are found in China, Indochina, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Leopard cats live in tropical rainforests or on sea level plantations, close to valleys, rivers and steep slopes.
Features of the Leopard Cat
Leopard cats are characterized by a small muzzle, rounded ears and a tail half the size of their body length. They have black spots on the body, limbs and ears and along the back, two black stripes and smaller white ones on the head. The black prints may be different in shape, taking the shape of spots, rosettes or dotted streaks. The color of the fur is tawny, varying from yellowish-brown in the tropics to grayish-brown in the northern part. The coat is not only beautiful, but also helps the animals camouflage themselves. Their natural sly abilities also make them difficult to trace and locate in the wild.
Due to the webbing between their toes, they are able swimmers, but they very rarely take a plunge into the water.
Diet and Eating Habits of the Leopard Cat
The staple diet of leopard cats consists of many sorts of small animals such as rodents, hares, birds, reptiles, insects, fish or poultry. Unlike cats, they do not toy with their prey, but catch it and hold it tight with their claws until the fair game is dead.
The Asian leopard cat is a solitary creature that hunts mainly at night. It spends the day resting in tree hollows and caves.
A leopard cat is a territorial animal that marks its territory by scratching tree bark or spraying urine.
Leopard cats choose their partners for life and their kittens are raised by both partners until 7 or 10 months old. The mating period differs from area to area: while in the northern region they breed during spring months, we cannot identify a fixed mating period in the south. The female gives birth to between two and four kittens after a 60-70 days period of gestation.
Leopard cats used to be hunted for their fur. Since 1988, when the European Union imposed an import ban, commercial trade was greatly reduced.
Being predators, they are killed by people whose households they attack in order to hunt for poultry.
Deforestation is another major cause for the already declining leopard cat population.
These animals are also captured for being sold as pets, although most states require a license. The mating between a leopard cat and a domestic cat gave us a hybrid named the Bengal cat, which can be kept as a pet without license.