Southeast Asia’s flat-headed cat is even rarer than the fishing cat. It’s also considered to be a better fisher.
This adorable feline has an impressive scientific alter ego: “Otocolobus manul”. Despite that metal-sounding name, Pallas cats aren’t superheroes – they are little cats that have carved out their own niche in an enormous, unfriendly world.
Most people wouldn’t consider “saving wetlands” as the method of choice for protecting an endangered cat, but it’s just what Southeast Asia’s fishing cat needs. The only member of the cat family to live on fish is becoming increasingly rare outside Bangladesh and parts of eastern India.
Clouded leopards are adorable.
The “clouds” are those beautiful dark blotches on the coat.
These wild felines aren’t close relatives of the leopard, but modern research shows that clouded leopards do belong with the big cats. Their head and face are a little weird looking. That could be because these Southeast Asian cats are primitive – the first big cats to evolve some 11 million years ago. But some paleontologists have a different explanation for it.
The world’s most famous spotted cat is a little better off than other big cats. Although its range has shrunk, the leopard still calls two continents home. Since leopards can adapt to almost any environment from sea level up to around 17,000 feet in the Himalayas, you will find them in most of sub-Saharan Africa and across much of southern/northeast Asia. While the overall species isn’t endangered, some leopard subspecies are. But in India the high numbers of both leopards and people are causing serious problems.
Not all wild cats are critically endangered. Asia’s most common little feline – the leopard cat – appears to be doing all right for itself. Scientists call it “Prionailurus bengalensis,” the Bengal cat. “Bengal” is also the name of a hybrid leopard cat/domestic show cat. A few people, especially in China, have skipped the domestic-cat middleman and tamed leopard cats as pets. But these remain partly wild and their cubs are totally wild. For some unknown reason, domestication doesn’t seem to “take” with leopard cats the way it did with house cats thousands of years ago.