Saturday, July 08, 2006

Leopard Cats of Big Cat Rescue

Weighing in at 6-15 pounds the Leopard Cat is the most common cat of Southern Asia. She has at least nine sub species and many scientists believe that these should all be considered distinct breeds. In captivity, they have lived up to 15 years, but tend to lose their teeth around the age of 10. Primarily nocturnal, they hunt both on the ground and in the trees. The primary diet consists of rodents, young ungulates, hares, birds, reptiles, insects, eels, fish, and occasionally carrion.

The primary threats facing the Leopard cat are deforestation and commercial exploitation. In the past as many as 400,000 Leopard Cats were trapped and killed for their fur in any given year. Depending on the sub specie their coats can be very short and plush to quite long as in these Amur Leopard cats at Big Cat Rescue. In the poor areas where they live, they are often killed and eaten.

This was also the first cat recently to be used by man in a hybrid situation in a quest for a new breed of cat. The Leopard Cat crossed with the Domestic Cat has produced a new breed of domestic ? the Bengal Cat.

This has removed potential breeding cats from conservation programs and has diminished the gene pool for helping to save the pure Leopard Cat. There are only 40 Leopard Cats in the U.S. and the Felid TAG has recommended that they be allowed to go extinct.