Common Name: Jungle Cat, Swamp Cat, Reed Cat
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Genus: Felinae (Felis)
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.
Sounds: Hear Jungle Cats here.
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.
See Conservation Work Funded By Big Cat Rescue here:
2023 Saving Jungle Cats
8/4/2023 This project aims to reduce the threats to Jungle Cats and Leopard Cats in central (Dhanushadham) and eastern (Mahamahi) Nepal. The main activities of this project include camera trapping, road signage, hoarding board installations, school education programs, and community awareness in the new sites. This project is supervised by Rama Mishra, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Antwerp, Belgium
All conservation insitu work: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu/