The Asian Leopard Cat is a small wildcat that can be found in several regions of East and South Asia. There are more than 10 different subspecies of this cat depending on where they live. Most of these subspecies are threatened by loss of hunting areas and natural habitat.
These cats are the most distant relative of the Leopard and are of similar size to the cats that you find in most homes. The male cats are bigger than the female cats and they weigh in around 5.2 to 8.4 lb. They are a very attractive and slender species that can be found in the deep jungles of China, Taiwan, India, Korea, Borneo, Thailand, Singapore, and Philippines. Their body is long and stylish and their front legs are usually shorter than their back legs. They have a small head and their ears are black and rounded. These cats have a triangular white shaped spot on the back part of their ear.
They have several markings on their head that are reddish brown or black. These markings form lines along their neck, head, and shoulders. The Asian Leopard Cat has several dark coloured spots spread all over the body. The tail of these cats has several black rings near the black tip. Their tail is usually around half their body length. The coat colour of the cat varies from an orange to a grey, even to beige, depending on their habitat. The tummy, interior parts of the legs, and chin are white with many dark coloured spots.
The typical habitat of these cats is the tropical plantations and evergreen rain forests when at sea level. In the subtropical region, they live in coniferous and deciduous forests. In the Himalayan region they live in altitudes of up to 3,300 ft. They usually live near valleys, ravine forests, and rivers but keep away from areas with more than 5 inches of snow.
Diet and Behaviour
The Asian Leopard Cat is unsociable and shy, and these cats usually do their hunting at night, though some cats will actively hunt during the day. They are excellent climbers and may even rest on tall trees to mask their presence. In some regions, they can be found as high as 15 feet above the ground. They are not excellent swimmers but can swim when necessary.
Their diet consists of lizards, mammals, birds, amphibians, and insects. The major element of their diet comes from mice, birds, and rats and they will add aquatic prey and eggs to their diet. These cats don’t play with their prey but hold them firmly with their claws or mouth until it dies.
In the north of their ranges, these cats tend to breed in warm months of March, April, and May. In the southern region, it can vary depending on the weather. The gestation period is about 70 days and up to 5 kittens are born in the den where they stay until they are a month old. The newborn weigh about 2.6 – 4.6 oz. at birth and their weight doubles within two weeks. In about 5 weeks, they weight about 15 oz. The eyes of the newborn open in 10 days and they start eating solid food after 20 days. These cats can live up to the age of 13 years in captivity.
The Bengal Cat
The Bengal cat is the result of breeding an Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic cat. They were developed by several people, most notably by Jean Sugden Mill. The main aim of the experiment was the harness the beauty and agility of the wild cat, yet maintaining the personality of the domestic cat. A noticeable feature of this cat is the wonderful coat that is not only beautiful but also soft and sleek.
The experiment to get a new breed of cat was started in the 60’s. During the 70’s, several studies were conducted in the University of California on the Bengal cat breed. These studies proved that these cats where partially immune to deadly diseases like feline leukaemia. These cats were acquired from the University by Jean Mill who showed them to the world at an exposition in 1985. When the public first saw the Bengal cat, they were amazed at the beauty and the timid nature of the cat.