Importance of Natural Resources

AMAZING Wild Cats You Didn’t Know Existed!

Which feline makes its home in the scorching
heat among sandy dunes? What is the world’s smallest cat? Find out as we take a look at Amazing Wild
Cats You Didn’t Know Existed. #9 Fishing Cat
State animal of the Indian province of West Bengal, the Fishing Cat demolishes the common
misconception of water-fearing felines through its name alone. With an olive to ashen gray coat that’s
sprinkled with different spots and stripes, this cat isn’t particularly easy to identify
at first glance. But a closer look at the fishing cat reveals
some highly specialized characteristics. The long fur adorning its underside along
with its buff, stocky physique give the cat a badger-esque look. It also sports webbing between its clawed
toes as a tool to assist with paddling as it hunts for fish, molluscs, amphibians, and
other aquatic mammals along the rivers, streams, and swamps of Southeast Asia. Sadly, these wetlands are under constant threat
of exploitation and pollution, leading to their protection by conservation groups and
the nations in which they’re found. Still, many people find the pesky fishing
cat to be a nuisance and dozens have been reportedly exterminated by South Asian locals
in the last decade despite their protected status. #8 Serval
Native to the northern African nations of Morocco and Tunisia, the slender, spotted
Serval resembles a miniature cheetah as it only stands around two feet tall and a maximum
of about three feet in length. But the medium sized cat has some unique characteristics
that separate the serval from its speedy big brother. In addition to its dark spots, this feline
also has black stripes that run down the back of its neck. Its golden fur is also accented by a white
underbelly and white fur also appears between black stripes on its ears. Structurally, the serval is unique in that
it has the longest legs of any cat in relation to its size. This is because of its elongated, strangely
mobile toes that it uses to impale its prey. The astounding agility of the serval is demonstrated
by such carnivorous pursuits with their pouncing leap launching the cat up to six and a half
feet in the air and almost 12 feet in distance! These wild hunters, despite their feral nature,
have been occasionally adopted as pets throughout history, though many countries regulate this
practice today with the serval never really able to be house broken. Luckily for fans of the slender stalker, a
domesticated hybrid cat was successfully bred with a serval to create a new breed with a
doglike nature in the late 1980s. This new Savannah Cat has become fairly popular
over time with the majority of US States legalizing them as pets. #7 Sand Cat
The pale yellow-furred, adorably small Sand Cat is the only known feline to mostly inhabit
true deserts. While its scrawny stature doesn’t lend itself
to an intimidating presence, the sand cat is an exceptional survivor. Long hairs cover the bottom of its paws, providing
a thick, furry padding for walking across scorching sand. In addition to protecting their toes, this
fur also causes their tracks to become muddled and difficult to follow, saving the sand cat
from any would-be predators. They prey on smaller rodents, reptiles and
birds in their habitat across the deserts of Central Asia, the Middle East, and North
Africa. The sand cat has been record chasing down
these critters with a burst of speed, reaching a sprint of up to 25 miles per hour! From this small bit of visceral nutrition,
the sand cat also derives its source of moisture in the arid heat, though they will drink water
if and when they can find it. But even with all these defense mechanisms
against the bitter harshness of desert life, the sand cat faces modern endangerment due
to the degradation of their native ecosystems. Human interference in various desert environments,
either by way of settlement and construction or livestock grazing, can lead to the depletion
of local vegetation and as a result the various animals that feed on them. Fortunately hunting of the cat is prohibited
in at least eight of the countries in which it resides and the population was reclassified
as being of “least concern” from the status of “near threatened” by conservation organizations
in 2016. #6 Caracal
Robust and lithe, the medium-sized Caracal is an adept hunter that makes its home in
a wide variety of habitats from North Africa to India and an assortment of nations in between. Characterized chiefly by its large, bat-like
ears accented by wispy black tufts of fur, imagery of the nocturnal caracal can be found
in ancient cultures across the eastern hemisphere. For centuries the moderately-built feline
was caught and used as a high-class gift among Chinese dynasties, as a hunting companion
in India, and as a protector of tombs in Egypt. One popular game of the time was to release
caracals among flocks of pigeons and allow spectators to bet on which cat would catch
the most birds thanks to their intense hunting techniques. The average sized caracal weighs up to forty
pounds and measures over three feet long from head to tail end. This stout, compact size allows its dense
muscles to thrust the caracal up to ten feet in the air in order to snatch flying prey
directly out of the sky! And while they show immense skill at catching
small prey, these cats are capable of taking down much larger animals than pigeons, feeding
on large antelopes when the chance presents itself. Though it often competes with leopards, hyenas,
and wolves for food, the caracal population is globally plentiful with some nations even
classifying them as vermin for their livestock hunting tendencies. #5 Margay
As a smaller version of the ocelot, Margays are notable for their intricately spotted
coats of fur. Weighing in at less than 9 pounds at maximum,
this small wild cat spends its days in the safety of the canopy of rainforests across
Central and South America. The margay possesses a unique skeletal design
that allows it a level of ankle flexibility only one other species of cat can match which
allows it to climb not only up but also down trees head-first. Its ankles can turn up to an astounding 180
degrees and its strong feet are equally well-equipped for grasping in both its front and hind limbs. It’s even been documented to be able to
hang from a branch by a single paw! These physical properties, along with their
ability to jump up to 12 feet horizontally, allow the margay to potentially spend its
entire life above the ground. This lifestyle allows the night-dwelling creatures
to hunt other tree-roaming animals like birds, lizards, tree frogs and even monkeys. Somewhat of an omnivore, margays will also
dine on fruits and grass to assist with digestion. But vegetation is only so tempting to the
crafty cat who has been observed employing an ability called auditory mimicry. With this technique, the margay was able to
imitate the cry of an adolescent tamarin, drawing the attention of a group of adults
nearby. While it failed in this one example to catch
its prey, it is still the first example of a neotropical predator to exhibit such behavior. #4 Clouded Leopard
From the foothills of the Himalayas through Southeast Asia all the way to the middle of
mainland China, the uniquely-patterned clouded leopard can be found prowling deep within
forests…that is, if you can spot them. For years this cat was thought to be extinct
in various countries thanks to the large brown and gray blotches that fill its coat, almost
resembling the scales of a burmese python and granting it the camouflage it needs to
stay secluded from human contact. But in the past few decades, these beliefs
were shattered as individuals were found in nations like Nepal, India, and Bangladesh
to name a few. Its unique fur pattern has made the clouded
leopard a common target among poachers and has earned the status of endangered among
conservationists as a result. Many regions ban the hunting of the rarely
seen feline, but some of those like Malaysia and Thailand fail to enforce such laws and
the threat against the clouded leopards remains dire. It’s no wonder they remain hidden among
the treetops where they are able to live the majority of their life in solitude. This is thanks to a commonality it shares
with the margay that allows it to climb in a wider variety of directions. But unlike its smaller brethren, the clouded
leopard is a relatively big cat measuring at more than 6 feet in length from nose tip
to tail and weighing up to five times as much as the margay! #3 Flat-Headed Cat
Scurrying along the tropic floors of South Asia’s rainforests is a ferret-esque creature
that is surprisingly feline in origin. Called the flat-headed cat, this critter is
notable for its unusual skull and narrowly extending snout. The rest of its features are slender and elongated
to match and the contrast between its large eyes and small ears give its head a look that
makes them all the more unique in comparison to domestic cats. Flat-headed cats usually have reddish-brown
fur near their heads with their coat blending into darker browns as it progresses to the
tail. From nose to tail, they only grown up to about
two feet long and weigh a maximum of five and a half pounds. But these lightweight traits only serve as
a ruse to distract from their surprisingly large teeth! With teeth the size and sharpness of other
cats up to twice its size, the flat-headed cat is able to latch onto fast-moving aquatic
prey, retaining a diet of mostly fish. And while this behavior isn’t necessarily
unique with the fishing cat also relying on a water-based food source, one thing this
cat does to set itself apart is actually wash its meals before eating! Like a raccoon, the flat-headed cat will give
its catch a good rinsing before digging into the freshly-seized fish. #2 Jaguarundi
From the south of Texas all the way to Argentina, the wild cat known as the Jaguarundi slinks
through the wetlands of the Americas. It resembles an amalgamation between a sea
otter and a cougar with its short fur and lean figure, surviving on a wide variety of
rodents, reptiles, birds and bugs during their solitary trek across home territories that
stretch up to 38.6 miles. Choosing to live rather reclusive lives, the
jaguarundi are hyper-aware of traps and threats in their presence, preferring to test conditions
in their immediate area with a wide range of vocal capabilities, such as mimicking the
chirping of a bird. Using its dark grey and reddish brown coat
varieties to blend in with the brush, these cats remain mostly unheard of by the general
public with sightings occurring very rarely. Not valued for its fur or particularly prey
to other predators, the jaguarundi instead faces its major threat due to declining habitat. While it is still rarely spotted in the Lone
Star state, researchers have found their native habitat to be quickly depleting in resources
leading to an imperiled jaguarundi population in the US. #1 Rusty-Spotted Cat
The near-threatened Rusty-Spotted Cat is the world’s smallest undomesticated feline,
with individuals measuring as small as 14 inches in length and 2 pounds in weight. Finding its home in the caves and canopy of
Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. Keeping to the protective cover of the night,
the rusty-spotted cat is able to dodge most natural predators. However deforestation of their native lands,
along with hunting and trapping by livestock owners, has led conservationists to seek protection
for this little creature. Today the rusty-spotted cat is safeguarded
from hunting and trading in India and Sri Lanka, but there’s still a long way to go
until this adorable species is truly stable.

Reader Comments

  1. Cervals are also found much further south, right down to the South African bushveld. And your 'hyena' is a wild dog

  2. Who the heck didn't know these cats existed? Why not just say, amazing and beautiful wild cats you shouldn't miss? PLEASE STOP THE CLICKBAIT NONSENSE.

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