Aug 23

With over 40 species of felid on ARKive, it was no easy task to whittle the list down to a purr-fect top ten.  But I lapped up the challenge and have highlighted the paws-able species out there. If there are any felids you think should have been honoured on the list and it is a catastrophe that they are not featured, do let us know!

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Photo of cheetah mid-sprint

Straight out of the starting blocks, the record breaking cheetah. Renowned for being the fastest land mammal, the cheetah can reach speeds of up to 87 kilometres an hour, beating the fastest human over 100 metres by a whopping 3 seconds. Unlike other cats, the cheetah’s claws are not retractable, helping it to grip the ground in high speed chases.

Pallas’s cat  (Otocolobus manul)

Photo of a Pallas's cat climbing over rocks

Its dense fur coat gives Palla’s cat a distinctly endearing appearance. It has got a practical purpose though, as Palla’s cat is found in cold, frosty uplands. Unlike other small cats, the pupils in the large eyes of Pallas’s cat contract to small circles rather than slits.

Sand cat  (Felis margarita)

Sand cat photo

A favourite in the ARKive office, the sand cat is expertly adapted to the desert. With footpads covered in thick hair, they can move comfortably over scorching sand, and they don’t need water sources, getting all the water they need from their food. But the real reason we love the sand cat? They’re just so darn cute 

Fishing cat  (Prionailurus viverrinus)

Photo of young fishing cats fishing at water's edge

Ever seen a cat that likes to swim? Not all felids are as hydrophobic as you’d think. The fishing cat, as the name suggests, frequently gets wet to prey on fish, diving to hunt or just scooping them out. We’ve some fantastic footage of this on ARKive so check it out!

Caracal  (Caracal caracal)

Caracal cub photo

The caracal gets its name from the Turkish “karakulak”, meaning black-eared, and it’s easy to see why. The distinctive tufts at the end of the ears are thought to aid in communication between individuals. Showing tremendous bursts of speeds, the caracal is also a formidable predator, shown superbly in this infrared footage.

Wildcat  (Felis silvestris)

Photo of a European wildcat hunting edible frog

The wild ancestor of the domestic cat, the wildcat is very similar in appearance to the common moggy. Close to our own hearts here in the ARKive office, it is the only native cat species to the UK. Found in Europe, Africa and Asia, the wildcat currently has the largest range of any wild felid.

Clouded leopard  (Neofelis nebulosa)

Clouded leopard photo

The clouded leopard is an absolutely stunning animal. Named after the “cloud” patterns on its coat, the clouded leopard has a lengthy tail equivalent to it’s body length, providing essential balance for its impressive tree climbing abilities – it’s been seen running head first down tree trunks and hanging upside down by its hind legs. A true arboreal acrobat!

Tiger  (Panthera tigris)

 Photo of a Bengal tiger in forest

A solitary species with fantastically effective camouflage, you’d be extremely lucky to spot one of these striped cats in the wild. The tiger is an endangered species, and with three out of nine subspecies becoming extinct in the 20th century, it’s imperative to resolve human conflicts with this fearsome predator and conserve the remaining subspecies.

Jaguarundi  (Puma yagouaroundi)

Jaguarundi photo

The Jaguarundi is possibly the strangest looking cat species, looking more like a weasel than a felid. But it’s not just its appearance that makes this unusual felid the odd one out. They have unusually large ranges for a cat, and are mostly active in the day, making them easier to spot. They’ll eat any small animals they can catch, and have even been known to swat birds from the air!

Lion  (Panthera leo)

Photo of an African lion rolling in dirt

And finally, no top ten cat list would be complete without the king of them all, the majestic lion. One of the largest cats, the lion uses brute strength to prey on animals many times its size. Although this footage shows they’re not always boss! Once the most widespread large land mammal after humans, lions are now restricted to sub-Saharan Africa and western India.

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher