Big Cat? Small Cat?

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

Science recognises thirty-six species of wild cat, plus the domestic felid. All are listed here. Felis covers the small cats, panthera the great cats, and the cheetah stands alone.

Quite confusingly, big cats are not necessarily big and small cats are not necessarily small. For instance, a body size comparison between the puma and the leopard shows they are very much the same size yet one is considered a small cat and the other comes under big cats. As previously noted in this article, the defining characteristic is the flexible hyoid which also gives the cat the ability to roar. At present cats are divided as follows:

1. Felinae (the small cats)
2. Acinonyinae (the cheetah)
3. Pantherinae (the big cats)

With regards to felids, Asia has no rival for variety. Over twenty different species are located in this area and this includes four of the big cat species.  

Common Name
Scientific Name

African Golden (Tiger) Cat (Felis aurata)

African Golden (Tiger) Cat

Felis aurata



Bay (Bornean Red) Cat (Felis badia)

Bay (Bornean Red) Cat

Felis badia



  Black-Footed Cat (Felis nigripes)

Black-Footed Cat

Felis nigripes


 Bobcat (Felis rufus)


Felis rufus

North America

Canadian Lynx (Felis canadensis)

Canadian Lynx

Felis canadensis


Caracal (Felis caracal)


Felis caracal

Africa, Asia

Chinese Desert Cat (Felis bieti)

Chinese Desert Cat

Felis bieti


 Domestic Cat (Felis catus)

Domestic Cat

Felis catus


 Eurasian (Northern) Lynx (Felis lynx)

Eurasian (Northern) Lynx

Felis lynx

Europe, Asia, North America

Fishing Cat (Felis viverrinus)

Fishing Cat

Felis viverrinus


 (Continued Page 3)

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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