Cat species in the genus Panthera that include: tiger, lion, leopard and jaguar are commonly called as big cat. Also in this species are cougar, snow leopard, clouded leopard and cheetah. One main trait these cats have that other smaller cats don’t possess is their ability to roar.
Though big cats may differ in sizes and physical appearances, all exhibit similar behavior. All cats are carnivores or meat-eater and are efficient predators. Big cats are found mostly in Africa, Asia, Europe and America.
Below is a list of the 10 most remarkable big cats.
The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a North American cat found mostly in southern Canada, some part of Mexico and the United States. Bobcats come in gray to brown coat, black-tufted ears, whiskered face and males can weigh up 30 lbs, while females average 20 lbs. Adults grow to 15 inches from ground to shoulder in height. Bobcats are seen roaming wooded areas, forest edges and swamplands searching for prey such as rabbits, hares, rodents and small deer. Having a flexible body with legs designed for climbing, pouncing and rapid acceleration, bobcats are efficient predators.
The Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) found mostly in South and Central America, Mexico and in some part of Texas is a wild cat that resembles a domestic cat. A distinct mark of an ocelot is its dark brown fur edged with black on a yellow/tawny background with irregular shaped spots and stripes. They are nocturnal animals and prey on rabbits, rodents, rodents and small reptiles. Ocelots are good tree climbers and also hunt for birds.
Ocelots population dwindled during the late 90’s because people hunt them for their fur. Efforts made by IUCN to preserve its population took on a positive note and as of today, ocelots numbers increase.
8. Caracal Cat
The Caracal (Caracal caracal), commonly called Persian Lynx or African Lynx, is a medium-built cat. They have long legs tufted black ears and creamy with faded orange spots underbelly. Caracal cats are considered one of the world‘s beautiful cats. They are found throughout South Africa and its habitat includes: dry savannahs, forest edge and mountainous terrain. Adult males can weigh up to 20 kilograms and can reach 2 feet in height. A nocturnal animal, Caracal cat moves with grace and an expert tree climber. They are good hunters of sand rats, squirrels, Rock Hyrax and at times birds.
The Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) is found mostly in South America and in some parts of southern Texas. They are medium-sized cats where adults grow to an average of 65 cm, a 45 cm tail and can weigh up to 6 kg. Jaguarundi have short and rounded ears and short legs. They have clear coat and even colors and comes in blackish to brownish gray. They inhabit forested areas and lowland brush areas that are near a water source. They are normally seen in trees spying on possible prey such as: small mammals, birds, reptiles and fish.
6. Marbled Cat
The Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata) looks like a typical domestic cat, but it owns a thicker furred tail that it uses as a counterbalance. They are mostly found in northeast India, Nepal and through southeast Asia. Its habitat includes: woodlands, dry savannah and rugged terrain in mountainous regions.
Marbled cat has thick and soft fur brownish-yellow in color having a marking of large blotches with lighter underparts. Its legs bear black spots and its head and neck also has some black lines. Adults can weigh up to 4.5 kilograms and can reach 53 cm in height. Marbled cat's diet includes: squirrels, rodents, frogs, lizards, insects but mostly birds.
The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is one of the “big cats” that lives in some areas of Mexico, Central America, Argentina and Paraguay. It can be mistaken for a leopard in appearance, but jaguars are much bigger and look sturdier than leopard. They more resemble the tiger in terms of behavioral and habitat characteristics. They live in forest and open terrain, but prefer much dense rainforest. Jaguar works alone in hunting its prey that includes: deer, capybara, tapirs, dogs, foxes, frogs, mice, fish, birds, monkeys and turtles.
The jaguar is a sturdy and well-muscled animal and can weigh up to 96 kilograms and can reach a height of 30 inches tall at the shoulder. The base coat of the jaguar is normally a yellowish-brown, but can adapt a reddish-brown and black coloring. They are covered in rosettes for camouflage in its jungle habitat.
4. Snow Leopard
The Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) is a big cat local to the mountain ranges of Central Asia. Their range spans from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan, Russia, India and China. They come in white, yellowish or soft gray coat and thick fur with ringed spots of black on brown. The average height of an adult is 2 feet from ground to shoulder and can weigh up to 50 kilograms. It can grow up to 3. 5 feet in length that include a 40-inch tail. The Snow leopard's diet includes: Wild sheep and goats and other small animals like rodents, hares and game birds.
The lion (Panthera leo) is a muscular and powerfully built cat. They have short fur that comes in uniform color ranging from grey to reddish brown. Lions have black or deep brown eyes and tail’s tip. The most distinctive mark of a lion is its mane (ruff of thick, long fur) that adult males exhibit. Its color varies from a light brown to almost black and covers the sides of the face, neck and in some animals extends to the abdomen. Adult males can grow up to 10 feet in body length.
The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the fastest land animal in the world, its slender, long-legged body is built for speed. Cheetahs’ distinctive feature is the black spots all over its tan-colored bodies. They too have small heads, ears and eyes that is marked with “tear stripes” that stretch from the eye's corner.to the side of the nose. Adult males can reach up to 3 feet in height at shoulders, an average of 55 inches in length and can weigh up to 140 pounds. Cheetahs roam freely in open savannah in Africa and some are confined in small isolated populations in Iran. Their diet includes: Gazelles, impalas and smaller hoofed animals.
The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest member of the cat family. They are found in China, Russian Far East, South and Southeast Asia. Tigers can grow up to 3.5 feet at the shoulder and can reach a body length of up to 9.2 feet (tail length 2-3 feet). They sport long, thick reddish coats with white bellies and white and black tails. Its distinct mark is its black, brown or gray stripes. Tigers are found in tropical forests, grassland savannah, rocky country, woodlands and grasslands. They hunt at night and feed on deer, wild pigs, water buffalo, antelope, monkeys and hares.