In the spirit of panda-ing to Pitchblende's demands, I present this week's Caturday:
The Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is the most widely distributed small wildcat in Asia, particularly East and South Asia. Overall, the Leopard Cat population is healthy, although some of its twelve subspecies are considered to be threatened. These subspecies have specialized living and surviving in their respective habitats, and vary significantly in appearance.
Leopard Cats are roughly the size of domestic cats, although they grow larger in the north (China and Siberia) than their relatives in the tropics. Southern cats measure about 26 inches (66 cm) in body length, and weigh about 8.4 pounds (3.8 Kg). Northern cats can measure up to 30 inches (75 cm) in body length, and weigh up to 16 pounds (7 Kg). All Leopard Cats have spotted coats, which is why they are called after Leopards. However, they are only very distantly related to Leopards.
As mentioned above, there are currently twelve recognized subspecies of Leopard Cat:
- Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis (Malay Peninsula, Indochina, Bangladesh, Myanmar, India)
- Prionailurus bengalensis javanensis (Bali and Java)
- Prionailurus bengalensis sumatranus (Tebingtinggi and Sumatra)
- Prionailurus bengalensis chinensis (China [except Yunnan] and Taiwan)
- Prionailurus bengalensis horsfieldi (Punjab, Bhutan, Kashmir, Nepal, Kumaon, and Sikkim)
- Prionailurus bengalensis euptilurus (Siberia, Manchuria and Korea)
- Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis (Borneo)
- Prionailurus bengalensis trevelyani (Baluchistan, Punjab)
- Prionailurus bengalensis alleni (Chinese Island of Hainan)
- Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis (Japanese Island of Iriomote)
- Prionailurus bengalensis heaneyi (Philippine Island of of Palawan)
- Prionailurus bengalensis rabori (Philippine Islands of Panay, Cebu and Negro)
Leopard Cats live solitary lives, only voluntarily in each other's company during mating season. Some cats are diurnal, but most are nocturnal, preferring to hunt under cover of darkness. They spend much of their lives in trees, as they are excellent climbers and part of their diet includes birds, insects and reptiles. They do not "play" with their food - they hold it in their claws and teeth before it is dead, and then carry it to a safe place to eat it.
Mating season for Leopard Cats depends on their location - northern cats will breed around March and April, while southern cats are more flexible. Female Leopard Cats will give birth to a litter of one to four kittens after a 70-day gestation period. They remain in the birthing den until they are about one month old, at which point they will have quadrupled their birth weight. Leopard Cats are commonly hunted for their fur, particularly in China.