Here’s the first of a series of Friday posts, continent by continent, with videos of small “spotted” cats in the tropics (to balance out the gravitas of all those big cats in snow!).
Some of these little fellows are indeed covered in spots, while others also have stripes and other markings. I’ve seen the term “small spotted cats” used for all of them, primarily those in Asia and the tropical Americas.
A few aren’t so little, either.
“Small” just means that these assorted wild cats aren’t “big cats,” i.e., they’re not in the genus Panthera.
Today we’re starting with Golden Cats — which are medium sized and actually come in all sorts of colors and in at least two coat types — because Africa has only the one small cat (and just one big cat) in its rainforests.
Asia has many small spotted tropical felines and can spare one for this post — the cat that evolved along very similar lines as Africa’s golden cat but isn’t closely related to it.
This is convergent evolution, and I think it probably happened in similar microenvironments on those two different continents.
Evolution is complex, but tropical forests are very diverse places.
Almost all of the leopards seen in this rainforest, on the Malaysian Peninsula, are black. Since feline melanism and humidity are related, we’ll be seeing black golden and black spotted small cats in these videos, too.
African golden cat (Caracal aurata)
There aren’t many online videos in the wild of this rare cat in its remote home.
But in 2011, the organization Panthera lucked out in Gabon and then shared its two-part camera-trap footage online:
is might be a different cat, one that they believe has a gray coat (though it’s hard to be sure with IR cameras).
Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminickii)
Again, it’s difficult to find online video of this golden cat in the wild. I found no extended views on my YouTube search.
Here, one makes a five-second appearance in Myanmar (check out its coat):
Now here is a hungry little cat in China — the northern part of the range, where Asiatic golden cats often have spotted coats:
Next week: Some of Asia’s small spotted cats!
Featured image: Captive Asiatic golden cat in Thailand, by Signature Message/Shutterstock