There are dozens of species of wild cats in the world, ranging from the famous big cats to small species no bigger than a house cat. Here we take a look at some facts and figures from the wonderful world of wild cats.
- Faster: The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the fastest land mammal with a top speed of 110 km / h (but more generally in sprints up to 80 km / h). It can maintain a maximum speed of 100 km / h for about 200 m.
- Largest: The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is the largest wild cat. Males can grow up to 370 cm long and weigh more than 423 kg.
- Smallest: The rust-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) from India and Sri Lanka is the smallest species of wild cat. It is about 40 cm long with a 20 cm long tail.
- Longer teeth: The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) has the longest canine teeth relative to the body size of any cat alive today.
- Longest coat: The Central Asian Pallas cat (Felis manul) has the longest coat of all wild cat species.
- Longest Tail: With a tail length of 80cm to 100cm, the Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia) has the longest tail of all cats. It wraps its tail around its head and body to protect it from freezing temperatures and also uses its tail to help with balance while moving on steep cliffs.
- Fish Eater: Although many cats include fish as part of their diet, the fishing cat (Prionailus viverrinus) is the only cat that primarily eats fish. Some birds, small mammals such as rodents, reptiles, insects, and shellfish also eat.
- Highest Altitude: The snow leopard (Uncia uncia) can live at the highest altitudes for any cat on earth. It is up to 5000m.
- Most threatened: the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is the most threatened feline species in the world. Studies carried out in 2005 estimated that the number of surviving Iberian lynxes was only 100.
So how many species of wild cats are there in the world? There is an ongoing debate among taxonomists about the number of species (mainly because it is difficult to agree on what is a species and what is a subspecies). The number of species varies between 36 and 41, depending on the classification to which it refers. Asia with twenty-one species has the most, followed by South America with twelve species, Africa with nine species, North America with seven species, and Europe with three species. (The numbers add up to more than 41 because the same species can be found on more than one continent.)