(Last Updated On: October 9, 2021)

Among all other small wild cats, the Indian Leopard cat, scientific name Prionailurus bengalensis is native to continental South, Southeast, and East Asia. The good news is this particular cat breed has been listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List (2002) because of its satisfactory distribution, habitat, and food.

Indian Leopard species

The Indian Leopard cat is a forest-dwelling cat, belongs to the family Felidae, found throughout China, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, as well as in Southeast Asia. The Indian Leopard cat is also available on the islands around this territory.

The leopard cat is famous for its leopard-like color. The species is mostly divided into a major subspecies, P. bengalensis bengalensis, and a number of other insignificant subspecies—

  • P. bengalensis borneoensis in Borneo,
  • P. bengalensis heaneyi on Palawan,
  • P. bengalensis rabori on the Philippine islands of Cebu, Negros, and Panay,
  • P. bengalensis javenensis on Bali and Java, and
  • P. bengalensis sumatranus on Sumatra and Tebingtinggi.

History

Leopard cats have a good relationship with the farmers because it guards granaries against rodent infestation. Traditionally, the leopard cat of continental Asia is quite similar to the Sunda leopard cat.

There are some distinctive differences among Leopard cat subspecies, that mainly differ in fur color, tail size, cranium form, as well as the size of carnassials.

According to statistics, the leopard cat was the primary cat species that was domesticated in Neolithic China about 5,000 years ago in Shaanxi and Henan Provinces.

Indian Leopard cat Traits

The size of an Indian Leopard cat is similar to a home cat, yet the Leopard cat is much more slender, with longer legs and organized webs between its toes. This helps them to be more silent, a good runner, and flexible in need.

The cat has a small head that is marked with two exclusive darkish stripes. It also has a short and slender muzzle, which is white in color.

There are two darkish stripes just below the eyes to the ears. Smaller white streaks work from the eyes to the nose to give their face a royal look.

The backs of the Indian Leopard cat are reasonably long. It has rounded ears that are black with central white spots. The body and limbs of the cat are marked with black spots of various sizes and colors, and there are also additional 2-4 rows of prolonged spots.

The tail of the cat is about half the scale of its head-body size. You can see the tail with just a few obscure rings that are very close to the black tip of the cat. The color of the fur is tawny, with a white chest and stomach under the body.

Body size, color, weight, and spots fluctuate in different species. In the case of the southern species, the fur color is yellowish-brown, whereas its pale silver-grey in the northern species.

Considering species, there are black markings, rosette, or might even dot streaks in the body of the cat. The weight of the cat is 0.55–3.8 kg (1.2–8.4 lb), with a head-body length of 38.8–66 cm (15.3–26.0 in), with a long 17.2–31 cm (6.8–12.2 in) tail. The shoulder top of the cat is about 41 cm (16 in).

The weight of the cat in Northern China and Siberia is as much as 7.1 kg (16 lb), with a 75 cm (30 in) head-body. An interesting fact is that the cat gains weight in the early winter and loses weight till spring. 

Distribution and habitat

The leopard cat is one of the most extensively distributed Asian small wild cats. It extends from the Amur area in the Russian Far East region to the Korean Peninsula, China, Indochina, the Indian Subcontinent that ends in northern Pakistan.

It lives in tropical evergreen rainforests and bushy plantations at sea level, in subtropical and coniferous forests in the footstep in the Himalayas at the height of over 1,000 m (3,300 ft).

It can also live in oil palm and sugar cane plantations and other agricultural plants around the locality. In 2009, a leopard cat was trapped in a camera in Nepal’s Makalu-Barun National Park at an altitude of 3,254 m (10,676 ft).

indian leopard cat

The cat lives near rivers, valleys as well as in ravine forests in the Northeast region. It was also found in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Thailand in the past. The cat is also available in many Chinese and Japanese National Parks and islands.

Habitats of males ranged from 2.2 km2 (0.85 sq mi) to 28.9 km2 (11.2 sq mi), and females from 4.4 km2 (1.7 sq mi) to 37.1 km2 (14.3 sq mi).

Ecology and behavior

Leopard cats love to stay and prey alone, mostly at night. They hunt stalk murids, tree shrews, and hares, most often. They’re very swift climbers and fairly arboreal of their habits in movement and hunting.

They mostly live in bushes and shrubs, sometimes in the crack of the mountain. There, leopard cats feed mostly on rats and other small rodents.

Indian Leopard cats are good swimmers in need. They have a similar vocal as like as the home cats.

Each sex’s scent marks its territory by spraying urine. They also leave feces in open areas, rub head scratch as a part of common behavior. 

Indian Leopard cat Description

The coat of the Indian Leopard cat is normally yellowish or reddish-brown on the top, while white below, and intensively marked with darkish spots and streaks.

The size of the Indian Leopard cat ranges from 45 to 75 cm (18 to 30 inches) on average, whereas 23–35-cm (9–13.8-inch) tail.

The Indian Leopard cat is a nocturnal hunter, prey on, rodents, birds, and small mammals.

It breeds in the spring season. Litters include 2 to 4 kittens, with a gestation interval of about 56 days.

Indian Leopard cat Diet

Leopard cats are carnivorous, feeding on quite a lot of small prey that includes mammals, lizards, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and bugs. They mostly rely on mice, birds, and rodents as well as grass, eggs, poultry, and aquatic prey for their hunger and nutrition.

They’re very sharp hunters, grab their prey with a fast pounce and chunk. Unlike different small cats, Indian Leopard cats don’t “play” with their meals, and penetrate the claws and grip the prey until the animal turns lifeless.

Reproduction and growth

The breeding season of leopard cats varies relying on the weather it lives in. In tropical habitats, they breed kittens all year round.

In the colder region, kittens are born in spring. The Gestation interval of the feminine lasts 60–70 days.

The litter size of the cat is between two and three kittens. The kittens born in captivity weigh 75 to 130 grams (2.6 to 4.6 oz) on delivery without eyes. However, the eyes are opened by the next 15 days of their age.

By two weeks, the size of the kitten doubles, and it comes 4 times in the 5th week of their life.

At the age of 4 weeks, a kitten usually starts to eat meat.

Captive females achieve sexual maturity at the age of 1 year and have their first litter at the age of 13 to 14 months.

Captive leopard cats have lived for as much as 13 years. The estrus interval of the cat breed lasts 5–9 days.

Threats

In China, leopard cats are hunted primarily for his or her fur. It is reported that about 200,000 skins had been exported yearly between 1984 and 1989.

They have market demand for fur, meat, and as a pet. Some ill motive businessmen from China, Japan, Thailand, and Myanmar have many incidences to kill the species.

They are killed in case they attack the poultry in the homes.

Conservation

Japan, China, Hong Kong, the USA, and many other countries have imposed a ban on exporting, killing, or carrying this species.

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