Larger and lankier than domestic cats, the jungle cat has an unspotted coat that varies from reddish or sandy brown to tawny gray. Fine black tips on the guard hairs give this cat a speckled appearance. The face of the jungle cat is long and slim with a bright white muzzle. Long, rounded ears are set close together high on the head, with a small but distinct tuft of black hair inside each. The cat has a short tail. Like in most species of cats, adult males are larger and heavier than adult females.
- Scientific Designation: Felis chaus
- Endangered Status: Least Concern
- Lifespan: 14 years
- Body Length: 56-94 cm
- Shoulder Height: 40-50 cm
- Tail Length: 20-31 cm
The jungle cat is an excellent swimmer and is not averse to getting wet. Not as strictly nocturnal in its habits as many cats, it often can be seen hunting during daylight hours. It hunts chiefly on the ground, capturing its prey with stealth using felid stalk and ambush techniques. The jungle cat also uses vertical arching leaps to capture birds and small rodents.
The jungle cat has a fairly wide geographic distribution throughout the Middle East and Asia.
A more appropriate name for this cat is “swamp cat” or “reed cat,” since the species is usually not found in the dense jungle. Instead, it is more common in densely vegetated river valleys in grass, thick brush, riverine swamps, and reed beds. Throughout its range, the cat lives in a variety of habitats and conditions, suggesting that it is a very adaptable species. The species is usually found at elevations lower than 1,000 meters (3,200 feet).
Distribution map courtesy of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), compiled in 2020.
Threats to the Jungle Cat
Unlike most cat species, the jungle cat has a stable population in the wild. Its rodent-catching abilities, wide habitat tolerance, and adaptability make it the most common of the small felids. In fact, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) puts this species in its Least Concern (LC) category. The species does, however, face pressure from retaliatory killing by farmers, hunting for its skin, and from habitat loss and destruction. The jungle cat is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) under appendix II.
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