All types of wild cats
Types of wild cats

All Types of Wild Cats and Where to See Them

From the rabbit-sized Black-footed cat of Southern Africa to the 320-kilogram Siberian tiger of the Russian Far East, the feline family represents some of the most fascinating and magnificent animals on Earth. And there are so many different types of wild cats, so many ways of being a cat.

Occurring in almost any habitat from the high-altitude slopes of the Himalayas to the scorched sands of the Sahara Desert, from the banks of tropical rivers to the snowy forests of Alaska, wild cats are supremely adapted to their environment. And each wild cat species is as beautiful as it is unique. 

A few years ago, I set myself on an ambitious quest – to see all wild cat species in their natural habitat. That’s countless instances of sheer luck of being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Being stealthy and elusive hunters, cats are some of the most difficult animals to find in the wild and the quest of seeing them all is likely to take a lifetime. So far I have seen 17 feline species.

Apart from luck, time and dedication, the most important thing for finding cats in the wild is knowing where to look. 

The single best source of information on the recent sightings of wild cats is the Mammal Watching website. It is filled with trip reports from mammal watchers around the world, sharing the details of sightings of various mammals and logistics of the required trips.

Another two good reference sources are Luke Hunter’s book Wild Cats of the World and Mel and Fiona Sunquist’s Wild Cats of the World. Both books have accounts of all types of wild cats with information on their classification, distribution, diet, behaviour and conservation status. 

How many different types of wild cats are there? 

While the total number of recognized wild cat species varies, the eight lineages that make up the Felidae family are widely accepted. As of November 2017, the Cat Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognizes 41 wild cat species (including the domestic cat). In terms of classification, there are two broad types of wild cats: seven are known as big cats, they belong to Panthera lineage. The other 33 species are classified as small cats.

You may occasionally see references to wild cat breeds. This is simply confused terminology. Breeds refer to the types of domestic animals, like dog breeds or cat breeds. Wild animals are classified into different species, not breeds. 

Here is the list of the wild cats lower classification, including all 40 wild cat species together with tips on where to find each species in the wild.

Big Cat Species

Panthera Lineage

Types of wild cats - big cats, tiger
Siberian tiger – Adobe stock image

The big cats are some of the most charismatic animals on earth and some of the most Endangered. So what are the 7 big cats? They are the large cats belonging to the Pantherinae subfamily of wild cats. Panthera was the first lineage to diverge from the common ancestor and therefore, it is the oldest branch. 

Tiger 

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest wild cat in the world and the most endangered big cat. While its distribution range stretches from Siberia to Sumatra, most of the world’s remaining tigers occur in India. This is where you are most likely to spot a tiger in the wild. The best tiger watching reserves are Kanha Tiger Reserve and Bandhavgarh National Park.

I visited Kanha a few years ago and saw a total of 15 tigers in 7 days. The sightings included single individuals, a courting pair and a family: a tigress with three cubs. Read the detailed report here.

Lion

There used to be two types of lions: the African lion and the endangered Asiatic lion that occurs only in the Gir Forest National Park in the Indian state of Gujarat. Although the recent genetic analysis revealed that Asiatic lions and Northern African lions belong to the same subspecies. The lions in Southern and Eastern Africa form the second subspecies.

The lion (Panthera leo) is the second biggest wild cat in the world and the only wild cat to live in social groups. The southern subspecies can be seen without much trouble in a number of National Parks in Africa. I saw lions in Kruger National Park and the surrounding sanctuaries. The most incredible sighting was a pride of the rare White lions of Timbavati. Read the detailed report here.

Leopard

The leopard (Panthera pardus) has the widest distribution range of all big cats. It occurs throughout Africa and Eastern and Southern Asia. Unfortunately, like all other big cats, the leopard is under threat and listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List across its range.

Thankfully, some leopard populations are doing well. Sri Lanka’s Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places in the world to see the leopard in the wild.

I saw leopards in Kruger National Park, where they are not too difficult to find. Read the detailed report here.

Jaguar

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the only big cat in the Americas. Its range extends from the Southwestern United States to Argentina. It is the most water-loving big cat, known for hunting caiman in the Brazilian Pantanal.

Related
Wild jaguars in Brazil - Exploring the Pantanal

The north Pantanal in Brazil is the best place for jaguar watching. I spent four days exploring the banks of Cuiaba River upriver from Porto Jofre and saw more jaguars than I could have hoped for. 

If you find leopards and jaguars to be incredibly similar in appearance, check out this post on how to tell the difference between a jaguar and a leopard

Snow leopard

The rarest and the most mysterious of all big cats, the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) occurs in the world’s most inhospitable environment — the high-altitude mountain ranges of Central Asia.

While the status of the snow leopard was changed from Endangered to Vulnerable by the IUCN last year, this decision is hotly disputed by conservation organizations on the basis of lack of scientific data to support it. Scientists estimate that there are between 3,920 and 6,390 snow leopards left in the wild.

Low numbers, inhospitable habitat, and exceptional camouflage make the snow leopard one of the most difficult big cats to see in the wild. Most sightings occur in Hemis National Park in the eastern Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir states in India.

Clouded leopard

The smallest member of the Big cat family, the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is considered to be an evolutionary link between the big cats and the small cats. It ranges from the Himalayan foothills to Thailand and listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List across its entire range.

The clouded leopard has the largest canine teeth and the longest tail, in relation to body size, of all wild cats. 

Due to its secretive habits and preference for dense forest habitat, the clouded leopard is one of the most difficult cats to see in the wild. There are no reliable places to suggest, apart from noting that they are sometimes seen in Manas National Park in India.

Sunda Clouded leopard

Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) occurs on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. It used to be just as difficult to find in the wild as its mainland cousin. But in the past three years, Deramakot Forest Reserve in Borneo gained a reputation as the ‘go-to place’ for spotting these elusive cats.

Related
On the trail of the Sunda Clouded Leopard in Borneo

Though even in Deramakot, finding a Clouded leopard is no easy feat.  It took me two two-week long trips to Deramakot to catch a glimpse of a Sunda Clouded leopard in the wild. 

Here is some incredible footage of a female Sunda Clouded leopard with two cubs in Deramakot, by Mike Gordon from Adventure Alternative Borneo. The footage was taken just days after my last trip with Mike.

 

Small Cat Species

Bay cat or Pardofelis Lineage

Wild cat species of the world - Marbled cat in Deramakot Forest Reserve
Marbled cat in Deramakot Forest Reserve

The second lineage to diverge from the common ancestor, the Bay cat lineage contains three species all occurring in the South East Asian region. This lineage represents some of the rarest Asian wild cats.

Borneo Bay Cat

The endangered Borneo Bay cat (Catopuma badia) is the holy grail of the wild cat world. It occurs only on the island of Borneo. These cats are so secretive that virtually nothing is known about them and they are almost never seen in the wild.

Asiatic Golden Cat

Another very rarely seen cat, the Asiatic Golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) has wide, but patchy distribution from India to Malaysia. It is present on the island of Sumatra but does not occur on any other Indonesian islands.  

The Asiatic Golden cat is currently listed as ‘Near Threatened’ across its range and there are no reliable spots where it can be seen in the wild.

Marbled Cat

The Marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) ranges from the Himalayan foothills to Malaysia, and on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. It is an excellent climber and thought to spend most of its life in the trees. 

Related
Where to see wild cats in Borneo?

I have seen Marbled cats on my trips to Deramakot Forest Reserve in Borneo. On the second trip, we were able to observe two individuals in the same tree. Read the detailed report here.

Caracal Lineage

wild cat species - Caracal
Caracal – Adobe Stock image

The third oldest lineage, Caracal lineage contains three medium-sized species that mostly occur in Africa.

Serval

Serval (Leptailurus serval) is an unusual-looking cat with very long legs, large ears and a short tail. All these adaptations are necessary for locating prey in the tall grass where it lives. It is widespread in Southern Africa, but rare in the north of the continent. This incredible feline is capable of leaping up to 3.6m to land precisely on its prey, even with its eyes closed.

While considered unusual, Serval occurs in high numbers in Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. Surprisingly, a good place to see Servals is in the small town of Secunda in South Africa, home to the world’s largest coal liquefaction plant. The high density of Serval in such seemingly inhospitable habitat is thought to be due to the abundance of prey, like the vlei rats and the absence of other big carnivores. 

African Golden cat

One of the rarest species of wild cats, the African Golden cat (Caracal aurata) occurs in the rainforest of West and Central Africa. Its preference for the dense tropical forest habitat makes it particularly difficult to spot in the wild.

There have been some sightings in Libongo Forest Concession in Cameroon, where the cats seem to be reasonably common along the access road.

Caracal

Caracal (Caracal caracal) is the only member of Caracal lineage with distribution extending outside of the African continent to the Middle East, Central Asia, and India.

Its name comes from their jet-black ears topped with tufts – caracal means ‘black ears’ in Turkish. Another acrobat, the caracal is capable of leaping 3 meters into the air and taking out several birds with one swipe.

Related
Wildlife watching in Ranthambore National Park, India

While secretive and difficult to observe, caracals are often seen in South Africa’s parks and game reserves (Kgalagadi NP, West Coast NP, Mosaic Farms)

I was lucky to spot a caracal family in Ranthambhore National Park in India where they are not often seen. 

Ocelot or Leopardus Lineage

wild cat species of the world - Ocelot in the Southern Pantanal, Brazil
Female Ocelot in the Brazilian Pantanal, Fazenda San Francisco

This is the most diverse lineage of wild cat species. It contains eight small spotted cats, all with Latin American distribution. This lineage is different from all others in that its members have 36 chromosomes rather than 38!

Ocelot

The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) occurs across South America, Central America, Mexico and Southern Texas. It is probably the most common, or rather the least uncommon of South American wild cats.

The highest density of ocelots in the world is found on Barro Colorado Island in Panama. The Transpantaneira highway in Brazil’s northern Pantanal is also a good place to look for the spotted hunter.

But the best place to see them is the San Francisco Farm in the southern Pantanal. I have seen three ocelots on a single night drive; all three sightings were very relaxed and at a very close range. Read the detailed report here.

Margay

Similar in appearance to the larger ocelot, the margay (Leopardus wiedii) is a much more skilful climber. Unlike the ocelot, the margay spends most of its life in the trees. It is one of only three wild cat species with the flexible ankle joint that allows the cat to climb down trees head-first (the other two are the clouded leopard and the marbled cat).

Margays are capable of hunting entirely in the trees. They have been observed mimicking the alarm calls of baby pied tamarins to ambush them.

Tree-dwelling cats are typically more difficult to spot than their ground-dwelling relatives. Wildsumaco Lodge in Ecuador is reportedly a good place to look for Margay.

Colocolo

Also known as a Pampas cat, Colocolo (Leopardus colocolo) ranges throughout most of Argentina and Uruguay into Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, and Ecuador.

I missed it at Fazenda San Francisco in the Southern Pantanal in Brazil, where they are seen about once a week.

Northern Oncilla

The Oncilla is similar to the ocelot and the margay, but smaller. Recently the Oncilla has been split in two to separate species: Northern Oncilla and Southern Oncilla. The Northern oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) occurs in Central America, Venezuela, Guyana and north-eastern Brazil.

A good place to look for it is Bellavista Lodge near Quito in Ecuador. They are also occasionally seen in the Brazilian Pantanal.

Southern Oncilla

The Southern oncilla (Leopardus guttulus) occurs in central and southern Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and northern Argentina.

Guina 

Also known as Kodkod, the Guina (Leopardus guigna) is the smallest feline species in South America. It occurs primarily in the south and central Chile with parts of its range extending to the adjoining areas of Argentina. It is an agile climber, although it prefers to hunt on the ground, taking mainly small mammals, birds, lizards and insects.

A good place to look for guiña in the wild, including the unusual melanistic individuals, is Chiloe island in Chile.

Geoffroy’s cat

Similar in appearance to Guina but larger, the Geoffroy’s cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) has wider distribution from Southern Bolivia to the Straits of Magellan. This is the only species of wild cats that have the habit of standing upright, using their tails for balance to scan their surroundings. 

Related
Searching for the Geoffroy's cat in Argentina

Its preference for dense habitat makes the Geoffroy’s cat difficult to spot. A good place to look for it is El Palmar National Park in Argentina. I visited El Palmar during the unusually rainy weather in early September, and it took me three nights to spot a single cat – the rare black morph of the usually spotted feline. 

Andean Cat

One of the world’s rarest cats, the endangered Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita) occurs only at high elevations in the Andes in Southern Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. It is one of the most rarely seen wild cats in the world.

Lauca National Park and Salar de Surire National Monument in Chile have been suggested as good areas to look for the Andean cat.

Lynx Lineage

Canada lynx - Adobe Stock image
Canada lynx – Adobe Stock image

Lynx lineage contains four separate species that are all quite similar in appearance. All four species have short tails and tufted ears.

Canada lynx

The most northern member of the lynx lineage, the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) ranges across Alaska, Canada and the Northern United States. It’s most distinguishing feature is the massive paws covered in thick fur. The large paws serve the purpose of snowshoes, allowing the Canada lynx to travel over snow-covered landscapes without sinking into the snow.

Lake Superior in Minnesota is reportedly a good place to spot the Canada lynx.

Iberian lynx

The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is one of the most endangered wild cats in the world, with a population of fewer than 200 individuals remaining in the wild in 2002. A number of re-introductions and increase in protected areas since then has seen the population increase to just over 400 cats.

The Iberian lynx occurs only in a handful of areas in southern Spain, with the best place for spotting it being Sierra de Andujar National Park.

Eurasian lynx

The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is the largest member of the lynx genus and has the widest distribution. It ranges across Siberia, Asia and Eastern Europe.

While not threatened, Eurasian lynx is a tricky cat to spot in the wild. There are no specific, reliable places for seeing the Eurasian lynx in the wild, but occasionally they are seen on Snow leopard trips in Hemis National Park in India.

Bobcat

The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a North American cat that ranges from southern Canada to central Mexico. It is a common species and a good place to see bobcats is Point Reyes Natural Seashore near San Francisco.

Puma Lineage

Wild cat species - Puma
Puma – Adobe Stock image

This lineage contains the most unusual mix of feline species: one typical small cat and two over-sized small cats.

Puma

While the Puma (Puma concolor) is quite a large cat, it does not belong to the Big cat family, and therefore it is a small cat. Often referred to as cougar or mountain lion, puma ranges across South America, Mexico, the United States and parts of Southern Canada.

Related
Wild pumas in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

The best place to see a puma is Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Although, I saw a puma with two sub-adult cubs in the aptly-named Puma Valley in Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica. 

Cheetah

Famous for being the fastest animal on earth, the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) occurs in Southern, North and East Africa, and a few localities in Iran, with the Iranian population listed as Critically Endangered.

The Cheetah is the fastest animal in the animal kingdom. They can go from 0 to 96km/h in just three seconds. 

They are quite easy to see on a safari in South and East Africa. I saw a Cheetah with a young cub at a kill in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Read the detailed report here

Jaguarundi

With its short legs and a long body, the jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) is one of the oddest-looking cats. It occurs in southern North America and South America.

While not considered a threatened species, the jaguarundi is difficult to spot in the wild. Most sightings of this species happen in South America, but they are generally accidental.

Leopard Cat or Prionailurus Lineage

Wild cat species of the world - Sunda leopard cat in Deramakot Forest Reserve
Sunda leopard cat in Deramakot Forest Reserve

This is another lineage containing many (six) small wild cats. The species in this lineage all have Asian distribution.

Pallas’s cat

Also known as Manul, the Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul) has the longest and thickest fur of any cat species. It has a broad but fragmented distribution in the grasslands and rocky slopes of Central Asia.

The best place to see the Pallas’s cat is on Ruoergai grassland on the Tibetan Plateau in the northern tip of China’s Sichuan province. I saw at least three different individuals in five days on the grassland. Read the detailed report here

Rusty-spotted cat

The smallest wild cat in the world, the Rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) is native to the deciduous forests of India and Sri Lanka. It grows to all of 1.6kg in weight and 48 centimeters in length. But what it may lack in stature, it makes up for with daring attitude. It is equally at home in the trees and on the ground, where it catches its prey (mostly rodents and small birds) using rapid, darting movements.

Sri Lanka’s Wilpattu National Park is one of the best places to see the rusty-spotted cat in the wild. 

Flat-headed cat

The Flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps) is an endangered small cat that occurs on the Thai-Malay Peninsula and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The main threat facing the Flat-headed cat is the destruction of riverine forest habitat for oil palm plantations, human settlement and agriculture.

Related
On the trail of the Flat-headed cat in Borneo

The only reliable place to see it is the lower Kinabatangan River in Borneo, near the village of Sukau. I have seen a single individual after four nights of searching. 

Here is some remarkable footage of a Flat-headed cat and its kitten in Kalimantan, Borneo, by Amy and David from Out Chasing Stars.

A rare flat-headed cat and kitten in Kalimantan, Indonesia

While on a 3D/2N river cruise in Tanjung Puting National Park, we stopped for a night trek with our guide Danu and a local guide from the village. Our local guide spotted (and attracted) these small wild cats and we had a heart-stoppingly beautiful moment with them!Afterward, I reached out to the International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC) Canada who helped me identify these cats as flat-headed cats. They are extraordinarily rare, and we have probably captured the first footage of a kitten in the wild. Like most animals in Borneo, their lives are extremely threated by the deforestation occurring due to (often illegal) logging, plantations, and mining. Hopefully, our footage will be able to help conservation efforts and researchers to help save these animals!

Posted by Out Chasing Stars on Saturday, 20 October 2018

 

Fishing cat

Unusual among cats, the Fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) are not only unafraid of water, but they depend on it for food, much like the Flat-headed cat. Both species hunt fish and small aquatic vertebrates.

The Fishing cat has a wider distribution range across South and South East Asia. The best place to look for the Fishing cat is in Sri Lanka, around Sigiriya and on the outskirts of Yala National Park (the park itself is inaccessible after dark).

Mainland Leopard cat

The most widespread of all Asian small cats, the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) ranges across South, Southeast and East Asia. This species is reasonably tolerant of human disturbance and can often be found in rural areas and even among the oil palm plantations.

Sunda Leopard cat

In 2017, the Sunda leopard cat (Prionailurus javanensis), occurring on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra was separated from the mainland leopard cat on the basis of molecular analysis.

Related
On the trail of the Sunda Clouded Leopard in Borneo

The Sunda leopard cat is common in Borneo, and I have seen it in both Damnum Valley and Deramakot Forest Reserve. 

Felis Lineage

Wild cat species - Sand cat
Sand cat – Adobe Stock image

The last lineage to diverge from the common ancestor and therefore the youngest branch. The six small wild cats in this lineage are all closely related and distributed in Africa and Eurasia.

Jungle cat

The jungle cat (Felis chaus) is a medium-size cat occurring from the Middle East, to South and Southeast Asia and southern China. It is reasonably common across its range, and I saw the jungle cat in India, in Kanha Tiger Reserve. Read the detailed report here.

Black-footed cat

Africa’s smallest wild cat, the black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) is the second smallest wild cat in the world, after the Rusty-spotted cat. It is an excellent hunter, with an astonishing appetite – it can consume up to 3,000 rodents a year. 

The Black-footed cat has a narrow distribution range in the southern part of Southern Africa. Marrick Farm Safari in South Africa is the best place to look for this species

Sand cat

The true desert dweller, the sand cat (Felis margarita) occurs in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. At While not threatened, this species is not very easy to see in the wild.

The sand cat has an incredibly dense coat that protects it from the chill of the desert nights. The strands of thick black fur on the soles of its feet protects it against the opposite extreme – the burning-hot sand.

Most sightings of Sand cats come from Western Sahara and Jbil National Park in Southern Tunisia.

Check out this amazing footage by Panthera cats and Sand cat Sahara team of a littler of Sand cat kittens filmed in the wild for the first time (in Morocco). 

These Famous Kittens Are #GivingTuesday Winners

They say good things come in small packages, and they apparently win more of your votes, too! In a sneak attack on the big cat stories, the tale of the Moroccan sand cat kittens took home the crown in our #GivingTuesday challenge! We're thrilled these little-known little cats have captured the world's attention, and we hope you'll join us NEXT WEDNESDAY AT NOON ET for a Facebook Live Q&A with one of the researchers who discovered these now-famous kittens. RSVP to the event at http://bit.ly/2AqROD5 and/or keep an eye on our page as we go live on Dec. 6! P.S. We raised more than $110,000 on #GivingTuesday, and our most loyal donors are matching that incredible total dollar-for-dollar as part our Second Annual Million Dollar Act for Big Cats Challenge. They'll continue doubling gifts for wild cats through the end of the year! http://bit.ly/2AJjuk5

Posted by Panthera on Thursday, 30 November 2017

 

Chinese Mountain cat

One of the least known and the most rarely seen wild cats, the Chinese mountain cat (Felis bieti) was not even photographed in the wild until about a decade ago. It has a narrow distribution in Western China.

Related
Wild cats of the Tibetan Plateau

I saw the Chinese Mountain cat on Ruoergai grassland on the Tibetan Plateau. In four nights on the plateau, I saw the cats on three separate occasions, so it is certainly a good spot. 

African and Asiatic wildcat

After some recent taxonomic changes, the wildcat species have been separated into the African and Asiatic wildcat (Felis lybica), and the European wildcat. I saw the African wild cat at Kapama Reserve, near Kruger National Park in South Africa. Read the detailed report here. Kafue National Park in Zambia has been suggested as a good spot for the wildcat.

European wildcat

The European wildcat (Felis silvestris) has a patchy distribution in the forests of Western, Southern, Central and Eastern Europe up to the Caucasus Mountains. 

A good place to look for the European Wildcat is in Cordillera Cantabrica in northern Spain, in the area around Boca de Huergano.

My quest

An interview about my quest to see all species of wild cats with Unearth Women Magazine.

Have you seen any wild cats on your travels? I would love to read about your sightings in the comments

Wild cats of the world #tiger #lion #snowleopard

 

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36 Comments

  • OMG, yes please! I love big cats, and seeing them in person would be like a dream come true. Some of the big cats on this list I’d never even heard of! Will definitely have to keep this in mind when making my next travel plans!

  • Wow thats a really exhaustive and detailed list. Great job margarita. I hope to make it to some of the places and could spot few of them. Thanks for sharing

  • Beautiful list. I learnt a lot about wild cats thanks to you. I am surprised by how many I had never heard of. Your quest is incredibly ambitious, but you seem on the right track! You have seen so many already :)

    • Thank you, Eloise. You are correct. The big cats steal all of the limelight in the wild cat family, and many of the smaller cats remain virtually unknown. But that only makes them much more fun to find!

  • I’m definitely a cat person, so I loved this post!! So interesting! We have Bobcats in Virginia, where I live, but they are very rarely seen. I’ve been lucky enough to see them twice in Shenandoah National Park.

  • You have a task on your hands to see all wild cats, but one incredible journey to take. I have only see a leopard in the wild on safari, and the others in a cat sanctuary

  • I love big cats! And little ones. There is a little one sleeping on my arm right now (which makes it difficult to type…). I have ALWAYS wanted to see a snow leopard in the wild. And a tiger. That would be my dream! A fantastic, really informative article that has made me want to travel the world purely to see all the cats in their natural homes.

    • Lol, the little tiger is checking out the rest of his family :). Yes, I agree, the snow leopard is one of the most incredible cats to see in the wild. It is also quite a tough cat to see – it usually requires camping in the Himalayas in winter where the temperatures drop to minus 20 at night.

    • Thank you, Julie! It’s tough to pick one. The one I particularly want to see is a tiny little cat that lives in sand burrows in the Sahara desert. Its Latin name is felis margarita, so it literally has my name on it :)

  • Hi Margarita,
    Great website with verry interesting information.
    I try to spend as much time as possible in nature and I am fascinated by cats, tame and wild!
    I was fortunated to live in Africa a few year and has had numerous encouters with wild cats.
    Lots of lions encounters of course but also many moments spended with leopards, most of them in Zambia. A few cheetahs also but not as many if you considers the amount of time i spendt looking for them. To sightsing in Kafue, one in the Serengeti and one in Etosha. I saw African wildcats fayrly regularlly in Kafue (Zambia), servals half a dozen time in South Luangwa in Zambia and a caracal one night when driving in the Caprivi strip in Namibia. The cat was in the middle ot the road with a dead springhare. It didn t move until My car had commte verry close, driving verry slowly. It then sat itself on the side of the road un til I decided to leave. I definitelly recommend a visit in South luangwa np in Zambia. To give you an exemple of what to expect I can summerise what I saw during my last visit in January 2017. I rent a vehicule with camping equipement and a roof tent and stayed a few night at flatdogs (accomodated in a safari tent) and at Wildlife camp (camping). I took both game drive with the camps ( only night drive from 1600 to 2000) and drived by myselv in the park. I saw lions every day ( also killing a bufallo one evening) leopards amost every day ( a mating couple and an individual hunting among others), to differents wild dogs packs ( chasing and feeding on an impala cub), hyenas, a lot of elephant( one herd chasing off a pride of lion) and a lot of the usuals plain game, hippos, birds and insects. Just to mention on one of my last days there ( i stayed nine days) I was one of the to visitors that had entered the park that day…

    • Hi Philippe,

      What an incredible list of sightings! Thank you for sharing your experiences. South Luangwa National Park sounds like a hidden gem of Southern Africa. It seems to be a good site for servals in particular. So not many people visit in January? I can’t imagine having almost the entire park to yourself.

  • Hi Margarita,
    Well I have visited South Luangwa NP so mainy time (40 times ?) some time for as long as 14 days and saw only serval there 6 times (four times inside the park, one inside the Game manadgement area just outside the park and one large adult on the road towards Mfuwe some 15 km from the main park entrance) so they are not seen often but it happens. If I remenber well most of the sightseing where during the dry season (from early Mai to early November). In January when the Christmas-new year visitor have left there are verry few people visiting the park. From the 10 january there is sometimes nobody entering the park. In January Flatdogs camp (highly recommended) is still open open, they close in January. Wildlife camp, another favorite, is open all year round, but sometimes in february or in mars it gets inacessible due to verry heavy rains that fload the acces road.

  • Hi Margarita,
    Very nice website with interesting information. Your photo of puma in the Corcovado NP in Costa Rica is simply amazing! I found your website because my wife and myself are both wildlife enthusiasts and we are starting more or less to also target to see all the cat species in the world. I was therefore looking for information about 1) the total number of cat species (it differs depending on the sources) and 2) reliable places to see them. Your website is a very good place to find all this.
    We are interested in mammal and bird watching and are regular contributors to Jon Hall’s MammalWatching website that you mention here and you may have seen some of our reports posted under my name. I think I saw some reports from you as well (or at least mentionning your name).
    Now talking as you requested about any wild cats we have seen on our travels, below is what I can mention. Worth mentioning is the fact that beyond just seeing animals, I always prefer to be able to take decent pictures of them as a souvenir; I therefore not really count glimpse or rapid sightings…
    We are far behind you with “only” 11 cat species seen well with photos so far and 13 if I count all sightings:
    – Lions seen in many parks in Eastern Africa (Kenya, Tanzania) and Southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, South Africa)
    – Same thing for cheetahs and leopards
    – A superb encounter with a snow leopard in Hemis NP in India
    – Several jaguars seen along the river banks in Pantanal in Brazil
    – 1 African wildcat seen in Marrick Safari, South Africa
    – 3 Black-footed cats seen in Marrick Safari, South Africa
    – 3 servals seen near Lesotho in South Africa and in the Serengeti, Tanzania
    – Caracal seen only once in Massai Mara, Kenya
    – 1 Pallas’s cat seen twice in Ruoergai, Sichuan, China
    – 5 Chinese moutain cats seen in Ruoergai, Sichuan, China
    Two other species weren’t seen well or long enough to allow us to take any picture:
    – 1 Mainland leopard cat in Tangjiahe, Sichuan, China
    – 1 Sand cat near Aousserd in Western Sahara, we will absolutely need to go back…
    We are planning a trip to India next year to see Tigers, Asiatic lions and Jungle Cats (among plenty of other mammals and birds I hope)
    Thanks again for your great site !
    Best regards
    Samuel

    • Such an inspiring list, Samuel! You went for the harder species first: Chinese Mountain cat, Sand cat, Snow leopard. I’m planning a trip to Western Sahara next October. I feel similarly to you, photographing the cats is as important to me as seeing them. The one cat I failed to photograph was the Sunda clouded leopard. It took me two trips to Borneo to see it, and in the end, it walked across the road in front of our car in the middle of the day, when we were not looking for it. By the time we approached it, it was walking into the thick forest and while we could see it quite well, there was no opportunity to photograph it.

      Your India trip sounds very exciting. India was my first wild cat destination, so it was quite a long time ago. I would go back in a second. But there are so many other places and so many other cats. Hoping for the Iberian lynx and Sand cat next year. Hopefully, our paths will cross one day on a cat tracking adventure!

      • Thanks for your nice words Margarita
        It is good your replied because while reading your words, I’ve realized I forgot to mention another cat species in our list: we saw several Iberian lnyx (including two adults mating!) during a very productive 1 week trip in Sierra de Andujar in Spain. How could I forget this! Splendid observations and great photos!
        When will you go to Western Sahara in October because we are possibly planning to go there again on the last week of October this year. Would be funny to see each other.
        Regards
        Samuel

        • How very lucky! I would’ve loved to see your Iberian lynx shots. I was just reading your report from the Sichuan trip (on mammalwatching.com) and your image of the Chinese Mountain cat is superb! I visited Ruoergai with Sid as well, but we only saw the cats at night and the Mountain cats were always too distant for photography. We were luckier with the Pallas’s cats – one was sleeping in the same crevis at the quarry each night.

          My Western Sahara and Andalusia trip is planned for next October, not this one, sadly. I wonder if we’ll get lucky and spot the sand cats snoozing in the ravens’ nests. I will look forward to your report in the meantime :).

          Cheers,
          Margarita

  • Sorry for my late answer Margarita as we are just back from a trip to Zambia (no specific new cats added to our list besides the “usual” leopards, lions and servals).
    Thanks for your comment on the Chinese mountain cat as indeed we were lucky with them contrary to the Pallas’s cat compared to you. I can share with you some Iberian lynx photos if you give me a link where to post them. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for the desert cat(s)
    Regards
    Samuel

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