Big Cat? Small Cat?

Big Cat? Small Cat? - Page 1: Cat Definitions | 2, 3, 4 & 5: The 37 Species of Cat

Is it a big cat or a small cat?:

How do experts determine whether or not they are looking at a big cat or at a small cat?

There are various points which are used to define big cats from small cats. Most of these characteristics have exceptions to the rule.

The shape of pupil is often quoted as a trait which is different in big cats. Small cats usually have pupils which show as a slit under bright light. Big cats have round pupils. However, the lynx is just one small cat which makes a lie of this rule, as it has round pupils.

Feeding position is another often quoted difference between large cats and small cats. The big cats tend to feed lying down; small cats feed standing up.

The snow leopard is the exception here, it feeds standing up like a small cat.

The one major difference between big cats and small cats:

There is one thing which clearly differentiates large from small. There are no exceptions to this rule.

This is the hyoid bone which connects the tongue to the roof of the mouth. In big cats this has an elastic segment, while that of small cats is hard all over.

It is this which allows big cats to produce a roar, and which also prevents them from purring in the same manner small cats can. The 'purring' type of noise produced by big cats can only be made as they exhale.

Oddly enough, though the snow leopard has a flexible hyoid bone it has never been heard to roar, however it is most definitely a big cat by virtue of the flexible hyoid.

Big Cat? Small Cat? - Page 1: Cat Definitions | 2, 3, 4 & 5: The 37 Species of Cat

 Taxonomy | Whiskers | Hearing & Ear Spots | Eyesight | Smell | Teeth | Communication | Flehman | Genetics |
Life Span | Streaking | Claws, Paws & Pug Marks | Skin & Coat | Gait | Tail | Cleanliness & Tongue |
Skeleton & Internal Organs | Big Cat/Small Cat?

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Photography With Thanks To Kevin Borden
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