These kitties aren’t your average wild cats. They’re especially rare – you’ve probably never heard of these varieties and most are pretty small too – about the size of a domesticated cat (or slightly larger). Don’t be fooled by their smallness and cuteness though – these cats belong in the wild. Let’s take a look at ten of them, along with a couple of facts on each:
Physical Characteristics: The sand cat is small and stocky, with short legs but a relatively long tail. Its fur is a pale, sandy, ocherous color.
Behavior: These wild cats can survive in extreme temperatures ranging from 23°F to 126°F , but when conditions get a little too much for them, they prefer to retreat to burrows. Surprisingly, sand cats can survive for months without water, relying only on their food, with small rodents being their primary prey.
Habitat: Sand cats are primarily found in Northern Africa and Southwest and Central Asia, residing in sandy and stony deserts. They tend to prefer flat terrain with sparse vegetation, but avoid bare sand dunes, due to a lack of food.
Physical Characteristics: This cat’s fur is dense and brown in color, with a silver tinge. Its fur changes in the summer months, becoming reddish. It has long legs and wide, furry feet, enabling it to travel through deep snow.
Behavior: For the most part, Canadian Lynxes tend to be nocturnal animals, hunting at night and resting by day.
Habitat: The Canadian lynx is found in northern forests across Canada and Alaska, but large populations can also be found in Montana, Idaho and Oregon in the USA.
Physical Characteristics: The Pallas’s cat is about the size of a domestic cat, with a stocky posture. Its fur is dense, making this wild cat look stout and plush.
Behavior: Pallas’s cats are solitary. They spend their days in caves, rock crevices or marmot burrows, and emerge in the late afternoon to start hunting. They aren’t fast runners, so they primarily hunt by ambush or stalking, taking cover amid low vegetation or rocky terrain.
Habitat: The Pallas’s cat is predominantly found in the grasslands of Central Asia. Sadly, it has been classified as ‘Near Threatened’ by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) due to prey base decline and hunting.
Physical Characteristics: The Caracal’s most distinctive feature is its long black tufts on the back of its ears, which are roughly 1.75 inches long. Its fur generally ranges from a tawny brown color to a brick red, with white fur on the abdomen, chin and throat.
Behavior: Like most cats, Caracals are also solitary animals, limiting their social interactions to mating season. These cats can be pretty feisty too – hissing, snarling, barking and growling.
Habitat: Caracals inhabit woodlands, savannas, semi-arid landscapes and scrub forests. They tend to prefer habitats with little rainfall.
Physical Characteristics: In comparison to other cats, Clouded leopards have pretty short limbs. Their hind legs are longer than their front ones, enabling this cat to have incredible jumping and leaping capabilities.
Behavior: They prefer to live a solitary lifestyle, resting in trees during the day and hunting at night. Prior to making a kill, they stalk their prey, or wait for their prey to come to them.
Habitat: Found in the foothills of the Himalayas, these cats prefer open or closed forest habitats. Some have also been spotted in the northeastern and southeastern parts of Bangladesh. They have, however, been classified as a vulnerable species in 2008 by the IUCN. Sadly, its total population size is suspected to be fewer than 10,000.