Out there, beyond the cats we keep as pets, there are numerous wild feline species. These cats are extremely rare and wild, but they are also incredibly adorable. Let’s take a look!
Linx Canadensis – The Canadian Lynx
The Canadian Lynx is a large and rare breed belonging to the Linx genus. It has a short body, a small tail, and long legs. In winter, it wears a thick, long, gray coat. In summer, its fur is short, thin, and light brown.
The Canadian Lynx has a big face with long fur that resembles whiskers along its cheeks. You can easily identify this rare breed by the black tufts on its short tail and the long hair on its triangular-shaped ears.
They have large feet and thick fur that acts like snowshoes, enabling them to hunt prey during the winter. Despite their long legs, Canadian Lynxes cannot run very fast. They prefer to lie in wait for their prey and then pounce on it.
Snowshoe hares are an important food source for Canadian Lynxes. When the hare population decreases, the number of lynxes also decreases. Conversely, when the hare population bounces back, so does the lynx population.
Canadian Lynx Overview:
- Scientific Name: Lynx Canadensis
- Weight: Approximately 8-14 kg
- Length: About 90 cm
- Lifespan: Up to 15 years
Pallas’s Cat – Manul
The Pallas’s Cat, also known as the Manul, is a small, long-haired feline native to deserts and rocky mountain areas from Tibet to Siberia. It is slightly larger than a domestic cat and has a pale gray or light brown fur. This rare breed of cat is currently facing a decline due to human impacts.
Pallas’s Cats have the longest and thickest fur among all cat species. Their fur is nearly twice as long on their bellies and tails compared to their heads and sides. This helps keep them warm when hunting on snowy or frozen ground.
Despite its fluffy appearance, the Manul is not actually chubby!
With a broad head, high-set eyes, and rounded ears, the Pallas’s Cat has a compact and robust body. However, due to its physique, it is not adept at running. When pursued, it seeks refuge on rocks or in small crevices.
Pallas’s Cat Overview:
- Scientific Name: Otocolobus manul
- Weight: 2.5 – 3.5 kg
- Length: 68 – 90 cm
- Lifespan: Average 2 years, up to 11 years
The Sand Cat, with its small and adorable stature, surprises other desert-dwelling species with its adaptability to arid environments. It is also one of the rarest cat breeds in the world.
As its name suggests, this rare breed lives in desert regions spanning from the Sahara through the Middle East to Turkestan. The Sand Cat has thick and dense sandy-colored fur on top and lighter fur underneath. It has large ears and a broad head, and its ears are reddish-brown with dark tufts. They have faint stripes running along both sides and black bands encircling the tops of their forelimbs.
Its feet are covered with a thick layer of black fur, which insulates against extreme temperatures and enables easy movement through the sand. The Sand Cat’s padded feet allow it to walk on sand without sinking, leaving almost invisible footprints. It is the only cat species known to bark like a Chihuahua. To learn more about the unique vocalizations of the Sand Cat, you can visit our website.
Sand Cat Overview:
- Weight: 1.8 – 3.6 kg
- Length: 73 – 91 cm
- Lifespan: 13 years, but high juvenile mortality rate (41%)
The Black-Footed Cat is the world’s smallest and most vulnerable wild feline species. It belongs to the Felis genus and is the smallest member of the African wildcat family. Its body is covered in light brown fur with dark to very dark spots and marks on its back, sides, and belly. Its tail is almost half the length of its body.
Black-Footed Cats are solitary creatures, and they usually only form pairs or small family groups during mating or when raising offspring. Although predominantly nocturnal, this rare breed can also be active during the day. Despite its small size, the Black-Footed Cat holds the title for being the deadliest hunter among feline species, surpassing lions, tigers, or even sharks. To find out why the Black-Footed Cat is such an accurate hunter, you can read more on our website.
Black-Footed Cat Overview:
- Scientific Name: Felis Nigripes
- Weight: 1 – 2.75 kg
- Length: 33.7 – 50 cm
- Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
The Caracal, also known as the Black-Eared Cat, is one of the rarest cat breeds in the world. They have reddish-brown fur, varying in color between individuals. The underside of their bodies is white, and they are adorned with numerous small spots. The Caracal’s face bears black patches on its beard, around its eyes, above its eyes, and gradually fading down the center of its head and nose.
The Caracal has long ears with black tufts, which house more than 20 muscles surrounding them like satellite dishes to detect the sounds of prey. The tufts of hair on their ears can enhance sound transmission or be used to communicate with other Caracals.
Caracals are solitary animals, except during the mating and rearing of offspring. Both males and females have territories, and they maintain their range of activity within them. Although living on land, Caracals are skilled climbers with a determined attitude. They tend to hunt during the night.
- Scientific Name: Caracal Caracal
- Weight: 9 – 19 kg
- Length: 80 – 125 cm
- Lifespan: 12 years
Next on the list of rare cat breeds is the Pampas Cat. It has a similar appearance to a domestic cat. Its fur varies depending on the environment and climate, ranging from soft and thick in colder regions to thin in warmer areas. The fur color ranges from gray-yellow and yellow-white to brown, light gray, pale gray, and silver gray. The lower part of its body is cream or white, with black or brown spots.
The Pampas Cat may be small, but it is also an expert climber and swimmer. It is known as one of the rarest wildcats in the world. Pampas Cats primarily live in dry and arid regions, from the dry grasslands of the southern cone of South America to the pampas of Argentina.
They have developed excellent visual, auditory, and olfactory senses. Pampas Cats have louder vocalizations compared to other members of the felid family within the same range. Mother cats call their kittens with short calls, and the kittens respond with repeated short calls. When warning others to stay away, they growl and snarl. Females emit soft calls to signal their receptive period.
Pampas Cat Overview:
- Scientific Name: Leopardus pajeros
- Weight: 3 – 7 kg
- Length: 46 – 75 cm
- Lifespan: 10 – 15 years
The Geoffroy’s Cat, also known as the Chinchilla Cat, is a unique and rare breed. It has a long and slender body, with shorter limbs compared to its body size. This breed is slightly larger than a domesticated house cat. Geoffroy’s Cats usually come in two colors: dark gray and reddish-brown. They are predominantly land-dwelling, but they are also skilled climbers and swimmers. Geoffroy’s Cats are also rare wildcats and often prefer trees as their homes.
They possess keen visual, auditory, and olfactory senses. Geoffroy’s Cats have a louder vocal range compared to other species in its lineage. Females call their kittens with a short cry, and the kittens respond with repeated short cries. When alarmed, they hiss and/or spit. Females also make faint calls to indicate they are in estrus.
Geoffroy’s Cats primarily live on land but are adept climbers, jumpers, and swimmers. Their agility allows them to easily attack prey in the water or catch birds and bats.
Geoffroy’s Cat Overview:
- Scientific Name: Leopardus geoffroyi
- Weight: 4.5 – 9 kg
- Length: 50.5 – 77 cm
- Lifespan: 15 years
When it comes to rare cat breeds, we cannot forget about the Bengal Cat (Prionailurus Bengalensis). It has a similar appearance to a cheetah and is primarily found in South Asia and East Asia.
The Bengal Cat is the size of a large house cat, with a small head, short muzzle, and round ears. The length and color of its fur vary based on the living conditions. Individuals in snowy environments tend to have lighter fur, while those in dense forests have darker fur.
Bengal Cats are ambush hunters who prefer living in forests near water. Although classified as nocturnal, they occasionally venture out during the day. While primarily hunting on land, Bengal Cats are also excellent swimmers and climbers.
Bengal Cat Overview:
- Scientific Name: Prionailurus Bengalensis
- Weight: 3 – 7 kg
- Length: 44.5 – 107 cm (head to tail)
- Lifespan: 4 – 20 years
The Fishing Cat, as its name suggests, has a robust and muscular body with short limbs. It has a long head, small and round ears, and a tail that is about one-third the length of its body. Its fur ranges from grayish-brown to reddish-brown, with distinct dark spots and stripes. These patterns run vertically along its body.
This rare breed lives along rivers, streams, and marshes in South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is not an adept climber but excels at swimming. The Fishing Cat is also a rare cat that is closely associated with water and has a strong affinity for fish.
Apart from fish, the Fishing Cat also preys on other animals such as birds, rabbits, cattle, and even insects. In captivity, they have been observed catching and eating tossed meat. This behavior is similar to when they catch fish underwater.
Fishing Cat Overview:
- Scientific Name: Prionailurus viverrinus
- Weight: 6 – 12 kg
- Length: 65.8 – 85.7 cm (head to tail)
- Lifespan: 12 years
The Serval, also known as the African Serval, is the most “awesome” breed on the list of rare cat breeds. It has a slender and agile body. Its legs and ears are longer and considered the largest among all cats relative to its body size. This rare breed has a coat of golden-yellow fur with black spots and stripes, a white belly, and distinctive features on its face. The Serval’s ears have black on the back with golden spots in the middle and one or two black horizontal bars on the inner side of its legs.
Although similar in appearance to domestic cats, Servals are larger. They usually have a ground-dwelling lifestyle but exhibit impressive climbing, leaping, and swimming abilities. The Serval is also considered a rare wildcat and is listed as a vulnerable species.
Serval Cats mainly hunt during the early morning and late evening hours, resting during the middle of the day. They travel about 2.4 km during the day and 1.2 km each night to hunt.
Similar to other cats, Serval Cats mark their territory using urine spray, feces, rubbing against the ground, or scratching. Serval Cats are not social animals and do not live in groups. However, in certain cases, when males and females mate, they can travel, hunt, and rest together for short periods.
- Scientific Name: Leptailurus serval
- Weight: 9 – 18 kg
- Length: 60 cm
- Lifespan: 10 – 22 years
The Bay Cat, also known as the red bay cat (Catopuma Badia), bears resemblance to a monkey with its distinct features. It is extremely rare and rarely seen. The Bay Cat is one of the rarest and least studied cats in the world. It has a somewhat unusual appearance among wild felines, as it is the same size as a large domestic cat but has a relatively long tail.
The Bay Cat has two different colors, gray and reddish-brown, with reddish-brown being more common and prominent. It has black patches on its head, reddish-brown ears with a golden spot in the middle, and one or two black horizontal stripes on the inner side. Its fur grows forward on its neck, both sides of its head, and upper throat, rather than backward.
Based on genetic and morphological evidence, the Bay Cat is closely related to the Asian Golden Cat and Marbled Cat. Bay Cats are classified as endangered species.
Bay Cat Overview:
- Scientific Name: Catopuma Badia
- Weight: 3 – 5 kg
- Length: 53 – 70 cm
- Lifespan: 10 – 17 years
Last but not least on the list of the rarest cat breeds is the Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) from Central and South America. It is often confused with leopards and lynxes. This cat is currently listed as near threatened.
Ocelots are the largest members of the Leopardus genus. Their bellies are white, and their backs range in color from light gray to yellow-brown and reddish-gray. Their fur color varies based on their living environment, with individuals in bushy dry regions having lighter gray fur compared to those in tropical forests. Ocelots have two black stripes on their cheeks, tan-colored ears with black tufts in the middle, and one or two black bars across the inside of their legs.
Like most cats, Ocelots are solitary animals. They move alone, attracting mates with vocalizations. Ocelots primarily hunt during the night. They rest on trees or in dense bushes during the day. Despite living on land, Ocelots are skilled climbers, adept at swimming, and hunting in water.
- Scientific Name: Leopardus pardalis
- Weight: 8 – 16 kg
- Length: 65 – 97 cm
- Lifespan: 7 – 13 years
The world is full of extraordinary creatures, and these rare cat breeds are no exception. With their stunning features, unique characteristics, and endangered statuses, these cats remind us of the diversity and importance of wildlife conservation.
Note: All the images and information are sourced from the website 1mquotes.