Within the Animalia Kingdom , felines have always occupied an important link, mainly within the food chain, since they are considered one of the large groups of land predators. Many of them have been revered by ancient civilizations, such as cats in ancient Egypt and the admiration of the jaguar in Guatemala. There are many examples of felines that currently coexist with human beings in different corners of the planet, almost all of them being wild species.
What are felines and their characteristics
Commonly called felines or felines , the members of the Family Felidae belong to the group of placental mammals, specifically those of the Order Carnivora. Among the main characteristics of felines are:
- They are good runners, very agile and capable of climbing trees and climbing rocks with ease.
- They are large carnivorous predators, occupying high positions in the food chain. Learn more about what are predatory animals, types and examples here.
- Although not all, most species tend to live alone, with the females being in charge of protecting the young during the first 2 years of life.
- They emit hoarse roars that allow them to communicate if they are in large areas.
Here we show you lists of types of felines , according to their size and whether they are wild or domestic:
Big wild cats
- Lion ( Panthera leo )
- Tigre (Panthera tigris)
- Guepardo (Acinonyx jubatus)
- Jaguar ( Panthera onca)
- Puma (Puma concolor)
- Leopardo común (Panthera pardus)
- Snow leopard ( Panthera uncia )
- Amur Leopard ( Panthera pardus orientalis )
- Longibando leopard or clouded panther ( Neofelis nebulosa )
- Lince eurasiático (Lynx lynx)
- Lince rojo (Lynx rufus)
- Iberian lynx ( Lynx pardinus)
- Canadian lince (Lynx canadensis)
- Ocelote (Leopardus pardalis)
- Jaguarundí (Puma yagouaroundi)
- Flat-headed cat ( Prionailurus planiceps )
- Asian golden cat ( Catopuma temminckii )
- Gato patinegro ( Felis nigripes )
- Gato pescador ( Prionailurus viverrinus )
- Leopard cat ( Prionailurus bengalensis )
- Borneo red cat ( Catopuma badia)
- Gato andino (Leopardus jacobitus)
- Margay o tigrillo (Leopardus wiedii)
- Serval ( Leptailurus serval )
- Caracal ( Caracal caracal )
- Gato my own family ( Felis silvestris catus )
The king of the savannah, the lion ( Panthera leo ) , is known worldwide as one of the most majestic big cats . Present exclusively on the African continent , lions play an important biological role within the proper functioning of the ecosystems to which they belong, keeping predator-prey relationships in balance.
Their amazing group hunting skills and fearsome jaws make them one of the fiercest predators in the feline world, being the only feline species that lives in packs , always keeping in mind the hierarchy between individuals and the presence of a dominant alpha male. They are capable of organizing amazing group hunting strategies, which mainly lionesses do, as well as dividing the tasks of caring for the young among different females of the pride, and sharing among multiple individuals the prey they have hunted.
Without a doubt, the tiger ( Panthera tigris ) is also considered, worldwide, one of the most surprising big cats. They find their natural habitat in the East, in countries such as India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Siberia, where they are revered and feared at the same time. At present, there are 6 subspecies of tigers, being, probably, the Bengal tiger ( Panthera tigris tigris ) and the Siberian tiger ( Panthera tigris virgata ) , the best known.
In recent years, tigers have seen their natural range drastically reduced, being forced to approach human settlements in search of food, with the consequent hunting and killing of many of these cats. Learn more about them with these GreenEcology articles on Endangered Tigers and Why the White Tiger is Endangered .
Did you know that the fastest land animal on the planet is a feline? We are talking about the cheetah ( Acinonyx jubatus ) , one of the most prominent felines on the African continent. Its aerodynamic body allows it to travel short and long distances at high speed, guaranteeing the hunt for its prey. The color of its body with spots and the black lines located under the eyes, allow it to camouflage itself among the scarce grasslands of the savannas and acclimate to the high temperatures.
We tell you more about them in this other post about The endangered cheetah .
The jaguar, yaguar or yaguareté ( Panthera onca ) is the largest feline that lives in America , being the jungles of Guatemala its main area of distribution. At present it is one of the big cats considered in danger of extinction, mainly due to the threats they suffer from poaching, and the population decrease of its most common prey, which includes deer and monkeys. Today the loss of up to 37% of the natural habitat of the jaguar is assured.
Learn more about this great feline in this other article dedicated to the species: Why the jaguar is in danger of extinction .
Considered the second largest feline in America, the puma ( Puma concolor ) inhabits forests and jungles from Canada to the Patagonian region in Argentina and Chile.
Commonly also known as mountain lion or mountain panther , the puma is one of the most important carnivorous predators of the ecosystems in which it is found, and that, unfortunately, has been the most affected in recent decades. Along with the decrease in the number of available prey, is added the difficult access to them, since the fragmentation of habitats seriously damages the hunting habits of the pumas.
Different species of leopards inhabit the forests and jungles of South Asia and South Africa. Commonly known as brown panthers , common leopards ( Panthera pardus ) sometimes have completely black fur, receiving in these cases the common name of black panther . Leopards have mainly nocturnal hunting habits and activity, characterized by their stealth and speed of attack as the main hunting strategies. Among the most amazing leopard species are:
- Snow leopard ( Panthera uncia ) .
- Amur Leopard ( Panthera pardus orientalis ).
- Longibando leopard or clouded panther ( Neofelis nebulosa ).
Some of these species are critically endangered, such as the Amur leopard , of which only about 25 individuals remain alive, while the snow leopard is in a vulnerable state, due to the scarcity of prey and conditions adverse climatic conditions that characterize the high mountain regions in which it inhabits.
Beyond the big cats seen so far in the article, lynxes stand out as another of the most abundant groups of cats on the planet. They are medium-sized felines with a wide geographic distribution. Lynxes are predators with a high interest in the proper functioning of the ecosystems to which they belong. They are characterized by being very elusive and difficult to see animals, with great agility and mainly nocturnal hunting habits. Among the most emblematic species of lynx, the following stand out:
- Iberian lynx ( Lynx pardinus )
- Bobcat or Bobcat ( Lynx rufus )
- Lince boreal o eurasiático (Lynx lynx)
- Canadian lince ( Lynx canadensis )
The example of the Iberian lynx stands out, as one of the felines with the greatest protection and conservation measures at present, since its area of distribution is very restricted and more and more individuals die due to abuses and other irresponsible human activities, such as poaching. Currently, there are protection and captive breeding measures in place to keep the lynx populations stable and increasing, mainly located in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, in the Doñana National and Natural Park.
To know more names of species of medium-sized felines , it is possible to group them as wild cats , since each and every one of these species live in the wild in forests and jungles, mainly in the Asian continent. Let’s see some of these species to better understand the variety of wild cats that exist on the planet:
- Flat-headed cat ( Prionailurus planiceps ): Malay Peninsula and Sumatra.
- Asian golden cat ( Catopuma temminckii ): Southeast Asia
- Gato patinegro ( Felis nigripes ): Sudáfrica
- Gato pescador ( Prionailurus viverrinus ): Indonesia
- Leopard cat ( Prionailurus bengalensis ): Pakistan, the Philippines, Sumatra and Mongolia
- Borneo red cat ( Catopuma badia ) : island of Borneo
- Andean cat ( Leopardus jacobitus ): Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina
- Ocelot ( Leopardus pardalis ) : Central and South America
- Jaguarundí ( Puma yagouaroundi ): from the southern United States to central Argentina.
- Margay or tigrillo ( Leopardus wiedii ): Central and South America
- Serval ( Leptailurus serval ): central and southern Africa
- Caracal ( Caracal caracal ): Africa and West Asia
Faced with the great variety of wild cat species that inhabit different parts of the planet, there is only one species of domestic feline , the famous domestic cat ( Felis silvestris catus ) . The domestic cat is one of the best known examples of animals that humans have domesticated throughout our history, either to simply obtain their company, or to have some kind of help and / or benefit from them. . In the case of domestic cats, these are considered companion animals that, on occasions, have been considered mythological figures and of great reference in cultures such as Asian, Egyptian and Greek.
They follow a carnivorous diet , with the occasional exception of omnivorous feeding, they are great hunters of small animals and have great agility and the ability to see in the dark. Many have nocturnal habits and are capable of having exclusively domestic habits or, on the contrary, wild habits such as street cats or in mountains.