We’ve looked at the world’s smallest cats; now let’s check out the biggest ones.
No, sorry. Both of those cat species — spoiler: leopards are the odd cat out — are all boxed up (along with a few other pantherines and smaller cats):
Now, getting to the biggest cat…
…not the one that purrs, however adorable or speedy:
Biologists used to define “big cats” as those that roar, but further research shows that big cats all share a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago.
It’s a genetic difference from the rest of Family Felidae; as I understand it, they don’t purr simply because their vocal folds are too large for it.
Speaking of genetics, did you know that cougars and cheetahs are related?
So, what’s the world’s biggest wild cat?
In terms of species, that would be the tiger, either in Siberia — don’t panic, it’s a dart gun and these are heroes, not poachers:
There are only about 500 left in the world.
— or the Bengal tiger, which is endangered even in the heavily populated Sundarbans where the potential for human-felid conflict is high.
The logistics of tiger release are different here:
But cats are dimorphic — the males are usually bigger than females. And African lions are not far behind tigers in size, so an individual male lion might be larger than an individual Siberian tiger.
Lions are clearly the biggest roarers!
Next week: Leopards!
Featured image: Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock