Being not very specialised, Felidae could colonize the whole world, except for Madagascar and Oceania. One finds representatives of this Family in steppes, grassy savannahs, forests, bushy grounds, and even in the rocky hills and mountains. Concurrent to this remarkable adaptability to quite different mediums, the individuals who belong to this group have a great diversity of sizes, from the South-African Black-Footed Cat, smaller than the domestic cat, to the large Tiger of the Amour river which weighs more than 300 kg.

Siberian Tigers

Of course, dimensions of the prey captured by these animals also vary according to an extremely wide range; thus, the victims of Felidae can go from the tiny mouse to the gigantic buffalo of Cafrerie. The main Kinds of Felidae are Felis, Lynx Acinonyx and Panthera. The Felis kind includes in particular the Wildcats of Europe, Asia and Africa. The Lynx kind contains five species, which includes common lynx and Caracal of Africa and Asia. The kind Acinonyx is represented by only one Species : the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), which is distinguished from all other Felidae by its aptitude for the race and its claws which do not retract.

The Panthera Kind contains the large big cats. One of their characteristics resides in the fact that the ligament, which produces the voice on the level of the larynx, is extendable and allows howling. This is not possible for all the other representatives of Felidae because of the ossification of this ligament, which limits the movements of the larynx. The most significant species are the Lion, the Tiger of Asia, the Leopard, the Snow Leopard of the Himalayas, the Jaguar of tropical America and the American Puma.

The Panthera kind

A Caracal devouring the hare it has just captured. As regards evolution, Felidae are modern carnivores, marvelously well adapted to hunting. Their retractile nails (except for the adult Cheetahs) are sickle-shaped and enable them to catch and retain their prey before seizing them between their short and powerful jaws and killing them.

Caracal Lynx


Today, the Wild Cat is usually named according to the district from which it comes. People write of Scottish Wild Cats, because this is the last refuge of the British Wild Cat. They talk of the European Wild Cat, because it has a heavy body and thick coat, creating a typical race of the main species. Or they make special reference to the African Wild Cat, because it is generally accepted as the original ancestor of all our domestic breeds. But, in reality, these different forms are no more than subspecies of the Common Wild Cat. In the past, they have often been designated as different species (the African Wild Cat, for example, being named as Felis lybica), but that view is no longer held.

If earlier zoological works are consulted, it emerges that no fewer than 88 forms of this species have been recognized from time to time in the past, most of them often rashly considered as full species. Some authorities have whittled these down to three main geographical sub-species, called the European Wild Cat, the Asiatic Steppe Cat and the African Wild Cat. Therefore, it is important to consider them together, in order to understand the overall range of the species.

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