Misc: This cat, contrary to its name, is found in a variety of habitats but typically is not a frequenter of “jungles”. Like the African wildcats and domestic cats, the Jungle Cat has been mummified and placed in tombs in Ancient Egypt.
Size and Appearance: Similar in build to the Serval, the Jungle cat has long legs and a slender body. Their fur is sandy-brown, reddish or gray, and is unpatterned except for some brown striping on the legs. The ears are tall and rounded and are reddish with small lynx-like tufts on the tips. The tail is short, ringed faintly, and has a black tip. Melanistic animals have been seen. Adults weigh between 9-28 pounds, reach heights of 14-16 inches, and lengths of 28-48 inches. Like kittens of lions and cougars, which are born with spotting, these kittens are born with stripes for safe concealment, which they lose as they mature.
Habitat: In Egypt they prefer swampy ground and reed beds, and in India they prefer woodlands, open plains, grasslands, agricultural crops and scrub.
Distribution: Egypt through Southwestern Asia to India.
Reproduction and Offspring: Mating has been recorded in February/ March in Central Asia and October in India. Females usually set up their dens in reed beds or thick vegetation. After a gestation of 63-68 days, females produce a litter of 1-6 kittens. They weigh around 4.5 ounces at birth and gain an average of 22 grams per day. Their eyes open between 10-12 days, they are weaned at 3 months, stalk and kill prey and reach independence by 5-6 months and are sexually mature at 11 months.
In captivity, they have lived up to 14 years at other places and past 17 years at Big Cat Rescue.
Social System and Communication: In the wild, family groups of males, females and cubs have been seen together, and in captivity, males are even more protective of cubs than females. The vocalization is a very loud “bark” as you would expect for a large breed of dog. It is such a peculiar sound coming from such a diminutive little cat.
Hunting and Diet: Primarily diurnal, these cats feed primarily on rodents, but also take hares, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, young chital and wild pigs, and being strong swimmers they will dive to catch fish.
Principal Threats: The greatest threat facing this cat is reclamation and destruction of natural wetlands. Also, they are killed by farmers because of their taste for domestic poultry, and sportsmen don’t like them because their prey base is the sportsman’s game species.
Status: CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Not listed.
Felid TAG recommendation: Jungle cat (Felis chaus). Still common in nature, this species declined in captivity due to a general lack of interest. Viable populations are not present in North America. This species is not recommended for support in North America.
How rare is this cat? The International Species Information Service lists 64 worldwide, with 9 being in the U.S.
Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book.
Rambo came to Big Cat Rescue on 12/5/99. He was bred for the pet trade. His owner had sent him to live with her daughter who died unexpectedly and his primary caregiver became the 12 year old grand daughter. She and her relatives agreed that they did not want to see Rambo exploited as part of a hybridization breeding plan for profit and asked if he could come live at Big Cat Rescue.
He is very talkative and loves to carry on conversations with his keepers.
Most Jungle Cats only live 10 to 12 years but Rambo is much older than that already. He cannot groom himself very well any more and spends most of his time sleeping. It’s hard to look at him, with his ragged coat and slow gait, but it is a part of life and we don’t hide that from the public. Rambo still loves to climb to the top of his platform to hold court with his admirers and to watch for the food carts, so we won’t shut him away from public view.
We let our cats tell us when they are ready to pass over the rainbow bridge. As long as they are eating and enjoying life we will provide supportive care and pain management, but when their bodies begin to shut down, our volunteer vets will ease them to over to the other side. Our vets, Dr. Liz Wynn and Dr. Justin Boorstein, come out at least twice a week and our cats’ health is documented daily by our volunteers into a google site that sends immediate emails to the vet care staff.
More about Rambo the Jungle Cat
Rambo the Jungle Cat. There is a notorious breeder of servals, jungle cats and hybrids in Okeechobee, FL known as Sue Arnold. Former volunteers complained that you could smell her urine soaked home and cattery the minute you opened your car door at the street. Despite her reputation she still breeds and sells more of these smaller cats than anyone else I know of and from all accounts is never willing to refund or take a cat back. It was 12 years ago, but I am pretty sure that Rambo was born there.
He was sold to another woman who gave him to her daughter who planned to breed hybrid Chausie cats. When this breeder / dealer died she had a tiny chain link enclosure on concrete in her back yard with two Jungle Cats and two domestic cats, cordoned off into even tinier cells. The daughter of the woman who died was only 12 years old and the Internet had only been around for about 3 years when she found us online and called. She told me that she loved Rambo and Cha Cha and that she was afraid that they would end up back in some awful hybrid breeding scheme. She asked if we would come rescue Rambo and Cha Cha from such a fate.
Who could turn down such an incredible young woman? When we arrived catching Cha Cha was no easy feat. She about wore me out. I put the carrier in the van and turned to go back to the jail cell they had called home. If I live to be 100, I don’t think I’ll ever forget what I saw next:
This little girl was clutching Rambo to her chest, tears streaming down her cheeks and she hurriedly carried him down the driveway toward me. You could just tell that she couldn’t get these cats to safety fast enough. It made me cry. I opened the carrier for her to gently put Rambo in, she said her quick good byes and Rambo and Cha Cha were finally on their way to a place where they would never be exploited again.
A few months later the little girl talked her family into driving up from South Florida to see Rambo and Cha Cha. I was so proud to be able to show her the wonderful life her precious friends had now thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers here. That little girl is 24 now and I don’t remember her name, but if she were to come visit again, she would be even more happy to know that Rambo has had such a long, happy, healthy life here at Big Cat Rescue.