Seven Threatened Cats You May Not Know | Science | Smithsonian

Seven Threatened Cats You May Not Know

The big cats get all the attention, it seems. Lions, tigers and cheetahs are all threatened, but they are not the only cat species whose populations are in danger. Here are seven small cat species under threat:Black-footed cat (Felis nigripes)Lives in: the steppes and savannas of southern AfricaEat...

smithsonian.com
The big cats get all the attention, it seems. Lions, tigers and cheetahs are all threatened, but they are not the only cat species whose populations are in danger. Here are seven small cat species under threat:



Black-footed kitten (courtesy of flickr user Asten)



Black-footed cat (Felis nigripes)

Lives in: the steppes and savannas of southern Africa

Eats: mostly rodents, shrews and birds, but also large insects, spiders, small snakes and geckos

Spends its days: in burrows or in hollowed out termite mounds

Superlative: the smallest of the African cats

Named for: the black bottoms of its feet

Threatened by: habitat degradation from grazing and agriculture, resulting in declines of the cat's prey



An oncilla (via Wikimedia Commons)



Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus)

AKA: Little Spotted Cat, Tigrillo, Cunaguaro, Tiger Cat

Lives in: montane cloud forests and rainforests in Costa Rica and the Amazon Basin

Eats: small primates, reptiles, birds, rodents and insects

Likes to: climb trees

Threatened by: hunting (for pets and pelts), habitat loss and fragmentation, roads



A rusty-spotted cat in the wild (via Wikimedia Commons)



Rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus)

Lives in: tropical dry forests and grasslands in southern India and rainforests of Sri Lanka

Named for: small, rust-colored spots on its back

In the wild: sleeps in trees and hollowed out logs during the day

At home: can be very affectionate with an owner (but we need them in the wild, not at home)

Threatened by: habitat loss and spread of agriculture



Andean cat (via Wikimedia Commons)



Andean cat (Oreailurus jacobita)

Lives in: the high regions of the Andes of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru

Known as: "the sacred cat of the Andes"

Known for: its long, stripey tail

Used to eat: mountain chinchillas (now extinct in many places)

Threatened by: hunting for use in local festivals, loss of their mountain chinchilla prey, habitat destruction due to mining, oil extraction and cattle grazing



A drawing of a Borneo Bay cat (via Wikimedia Commons)



Borneo Bay cat (Pardofelis badia)

AKA: Bay Cat, Bornean Cat, Bornean Red Cat or Bornean Marbled Cat

Why we don't have a photo: they are that rare

Lives in: the forests of Borneo

Eats
: ? The cat's diet has never been studied.

Color
: red or gray

Threatened by
: habitat loss due to commercial logging and oil palm plantations



Fishing cat (courtesy of flickr user cliff1066)



Fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)

Lives: near marshes, mangroves, rivers and streams in India and Southeast Asia

Where you can find one in D.C.: At Smithsonian's National Zoo

Eats:
birds, small mammals, snakes, snails and fish

Catches fish: with webbed paws

Uses its tail: as a rudder when swimming

Threatened by: wetland destruction due to human settlement, agriculture and pollution



Iberian lynx (via Wikimedia Commons)



Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus)

Lives in: open grassland and dense shrubland in Andalusia, Spain

Used to also live in: Portugal, but hasn't been seen there in years

Eats: the European rabbit, hares, rodents, the occasional young deer

Total population: 84-143 adults, according to the IUCN

Superlatives: the most endangered cat species in the world, and one of the world's most endangered mammals

Threatened by: loss of its main food source, the European rabbit, due to
habitat changes, diseases (myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease) and hunting
Tags
About Sarah Zielinski
Sarah Zielinski

Sarah Zielinski is an award-winning science writer and editor. She is a contributing writer in science for Smithsonian.com and blogs at Wild Things, which appears on Science News.

Read more from this author |

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus