|Family:|| Felidae |
Fischer von Waldheim, 1817
| Felis |
Felidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, colloquially referred to as cats, and constitutes a clade. A member of this family is also called a felid.The term "cat" refers both to felids in general and specifically to the domestic cat (Felis catus).
Felidae species exhibit the most diverse fur pattern of all terrestrial carnivores.Cats have retractile claws, slender muscular bodies and strong flexible forelimbs. Their teeth and facial muscles allow for a powerful bite. They are all obligate carnivores, and most are solitary predators ambushing or stalking their prey. Wild cats occur in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. Some wild cat species are adapted to forest habitats, some to arid environments, and a few also to wetlands and mountainous terrain. Their activity patterns range from nocturnal and crepuscular to diurnal, depending on their preferred prey species.
Reginald Innes Pocock divided the extant Felidae into three subfamilies: the Pantherinae, the Felinae and the Acinonychinae, differing from each other by the ossification of the hyoid apparatus and by the cutaneous sheaths which protect their claws.This concept has been revised following developments in molecular biology and techniques for analysis of morphological data. Today, the living Felidae are divided in two subfamilies: the Pantherinae and Felinae, with the Acinonychinae subsumed into the latter. Pantherinae includes five Panthera and two Neofelis species, while Felinae includes the other 34 species in ten genera.
The first cats emerged during the Oligocene about, with the appearance of Proailurus and Pseudaelurus . The latter species complex was ancestral to two main lines of felids: the cats in the extant subfamilies and a group of extinct cats of the subfamily Machairodontinae, which include the saber-toothed cats such as the Smilodon . The "false sabre-toothed cats", the Barbourofelidae and Nimravidae, are not true cats, but are closely related. Together with the Felidae, Viverridae, hyaenas and mongooses, they constitute the Feliformia.
All members of the cat family have the following characteristics in common:
The colour, length and density of their fur is very diverse. Fur colour covers the gamut from white to black, and fur pattern from distinctive small spots, stripes to small blotches and rosettes. Most cat species are born with a spotted fur, except the jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi), Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) and caracal (Caracal caracal). The spotted fur of lion (Panthera leo) and cougar (Puma concolor) cubs change to a uniform fur during their ontogeny.Those living in cold environments have thick fur with long hair, like the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) and the Pallas's cat (Otocolobus manul). Those living in tropical and hot climate zones have short fur. Several species exhibit melanism with all-black individuals.
In the great majority of cat species, the tail is between a third and a half of the body length, although with some exceptions, like the Lynx species and margay.Cat species vary greatly in body and skull sizes, and weights:
Most cat species have a haploid number of 18 or 19. Central and South American cats have a haploid number of 18, possibly due to the combination of two smaller chromosomes into a larger one.
The family Felidae is part of the Feliformia, a suborder that diverged probably aboutinto several families. The Felidae and the Asiatic linsangs are considered a sister group, which split about .
The earliest cats probably appeared about million years later than the Canidae.. Proailurus is the oldest known cat that occurred after the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event about ; fossil remains were excavated in France and Mongolia's Hsanda Gol Formation. Fossil occurrences indicate that the Felidae arrived in North America earliest . This is about later than the Ursidae and the Nimravidae, and about 10
In the Early Miocene about, Pseudaelurus lived in Africa. Its fossil jaws were also excavated in geological formations of Europe's Vallesian, Asia's Middle Miocene and North America's late Hemingfordian to late Barstovian epochs.
In the Early or Middle Miocene, the sabre-toothed Machairodontinae evolved in Africa and migrated northwards in the Late Miocene.With their large upper canines, they were adapted to prey on large-bodied megaherbivores. Miomachairodus is the oldest known member of this subfamily. Metailurus lived in Africa and Eurasia about . Several Paramachaerodus skeletons were found in Spain. Homotherium appeared in Africa, Eurasia and North America around , and Megantereon about . Smilodon lived in North and South America from about . This subfamily became extinct in the Late Pleistocene.
Results of mitochondrial analysis indicate that the living Felidae species descended from a common ancestor, which originated in Asia in the Late Miocene epoch. They migrated to Africa, Europe and the Americas in the course of at least 10 migration waves during the past ~11 million years. Low sea levels, interglacial and glacial periods facilitated these migrations. Panthera blytheae is the oldest known pantherine cat dated to the late Messinian to early Zanclean ages about . A fossil skull was excavated in 2010 in Zanda County on the Tibetan Plateau. Panthera palaeosinensis from North China probably dates to the Late Miocene or Early Pliocene. The skull of the holotype is similar to that of a lion or leopard. Panthera zdanskyi dates to the Gelasian about . Several fossil skulls and jawbones were excavated in northwestern China. Panthera gombaszoegensis is the earliest known pantherine cat that lived in Europe about .
Living felids fall into eight evolutionary lineages or species clades.Genotyping of nuclear DNA of all 41 felid species revealed that hybridization between species occurred in the course of evolution within the majority of the eight lineages.
Modelling of felid coat pattern transformations revealed that nearly all patterns evolved from small spots.
Traditionally, five subfamilies have been distinguished within the Felidae based on phenotypical features: the Pantherinae, the Felinae, the Acinonychinae,and the extinct Machairodontinae and Proailurinae.
The following table shows the living genera within the Felidae, grouped according to the traditional phenotypical classification.Estimated genetic divergence times of the corresponding eight genotypical evolutionary lineages are indicated in million years ago (Mya), based on analysis of autosomal, xDNA, yDNA and mtDNA gene segments; and estimates based on analysis of biparental nuclear genomes.
|Genus||Species||IUCN Red List status and distribution|
| Neofelis Gray, 1867 |
[Lineage 1: 14.45 to 8.38 Mya]
|Clouded leopard (N. nebulosa) (Griffith, 1821)||VU|
|Sunda clouded leopard (N. diardi) (Cuvier, 1823)||VU|
| Panthera Oken, 1816 |
[Lineage 1]; 11.75 to 0.97 Mya
|Leopard (P. pardus) (Linnaeus, 1758)||VU|
|Tiger (P. tigris) (Linnaeus, 1758)||EN|
|Snow leopard (P. uncia) (Schreber, 1775)||VU|
|Lion (P. leo) (Linnaeus, 1758)||VU|
|Jaguar (P. onca) (Linnaeus, 1758)||NT|
|Genus||Species||IUCN Red List status and distribution|
| Pardofelis Severtzov, 1858 |
[Lineage 2: 12.77 to 7.36 Mya]
|Marbled cat (P. marmorata) (Martin, 1836)||NT|
| Catopuma Severtzov, 1858 |
[Lineage 2]; 8.47 to 0.41 Mya
|Asian golden cat (C. temminckii) (Vigors & Horsfield, 1827)||NT|
|Bay cat (C. badia) (Gray, 1874)||EN|
| Leptailurus Severtzov, 1858 |
[Lineage 3: 11.56 to 6.66 Mya]
|Serval (L. serval) (Schreber, 1775)||LC|
| Caracal Gray, 1843 |
[Lineage 3]; 11.99 to 3.64 Mya
|Caracal (C. caracal) (Schreber, 1776)||LC|
|African golden cat (C. aurata) (Temminck, 1827)||VU|
| Leopardus Gray, 1842 |
[Lineage 4: 10.95 to 6.3 Mya]; 5.19 to 0.93 Mya
|Pampas cat (L. colocola) (Molina, 1782)||NT|
|Andean mountain cat (L. jacobitus) (Cornalia, 1865)||EN|
|Ocelot (L. pardalis) (Linnaeus, 1758)||LC|
|Margay (L. wiedii) (Schinz, 1821)||NT|
|Kodkod (L. guigna) (Molina, 1782)||VU|
|Geoffroy's cat (L. geoffroyi) (d'Orbigny & Gervais, 1844)||LC|
|Oncilla (L. tigrinus) (Schreber, 1775)||VU|
|Southern tigrina (L. guttulus) (Hensel, 1872)||VU|
| Lynx Kerr, 1792 |
[Lineage 5: 9.81 to 5.62 Mya]; 8.67 to 2.39 Mya
|Bobcat (L. rufus) (Schreber, 1777)||LC|
|Canada lynx (L. canadensis) Kerr, 1792||LC|
|Eurasian lynx (L. lynx) (Linnaeus, 1758)||LC|
|Iberian lynx (L. pardinus) (Temminck, 1827)||EN|
| Acinonyx Brookes, 1828 |
[Lineage 6: 9.20 to 5.27 Mya]
|Cheetah (A. jubatus) Schreber, 1775)||VU|
| Puma Jardine 1834 |
|Cougar (P. concolor) Linnaeus, 1771||LC|
|HerpailurusSevertzov, 1858 |
|Jaguarundi (H. yagouaroundi) (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803)||LC|
| Otocolobus Brandt, 1842 |
[Lineage 7: 8.55 to 4.8 Mya]; 9.4 to 1.46 Mya
|Pallas's cat (O. manul) (Pallas, 1776)||NT|
| Prionailurus Severtzov, 1858 |
[Lineage 7]; 8.76 to 0.73 Mya
|Rusty-spotted cat (P. rubiginosus) (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1834)||NT|
|Leopard cat (P. bengalensis) (Kerr, 1792)||LC|
|Fishing cat (P. viverrinus) (Bennett, 1833)||VU|
|Flat-headed cat (P. planiceps) (Vigors & Horsfield, 1827)||VU|
|Sunda leopard cat (P. javanensis) (Desmarest, 1816)|
| Felis Linnaeus, 1758 |
[Lineage 8: 4.88 to 2.41 Mya]; 6.52 to 1.03 Mya
|Jungle cat (F. chaus) Schreber, 1777||LC|
|Black-footed cat (F. nigripes) Burchell, 1824||VU|
|Sand cat (F. margarita) Loche, 1858||LC|
|Chinese mountain cat (F. bieti) Milne-Edwards, 1892||VU|
|African wildcat (F. lybica) Forster, 1780|
|European wildcat (F. silvestris) Schreber, 1777||LC|
|Domestic cat (F. catus) Linnaeus, 1758|
The phylogenetic relationships of living felids are shown in the following cladogram:
Panthera is a genus within the family Felidae that was named and described by Lorenz Oken in 1816 who placed all the spotted cats in this group. Reginald Innes Pocock revised the classification of this genus in 1916 as comprising the species tiger, lion, jaguar, and leopard on the basis of common cranial features. Results of genetic analysis indicate that the snow leopard also belongs to the Panthera, a classification that was accepted by IUCN Red List assessors in 2008.
Pseudaelurus is a prehistoric cat that lived in Europe, Asia and North America in the Miocene between approximately twenty and eight million years ago. It is related to today's felines and pantherines as well as the extinct machairodonts (saber-tooths), and is a successor to Proailurus. It originated from Eurasia and was the first cat to reach North America, when it entered the continent at about 18.5 Ma ending a 'cat-gap' of 7 million years. The slender proportions of the animal, together with its short, viverrid-like legs, suggest that it may have been an agile climber of trees.
Felis is a genus of small and medium-sized cat species native to most of Africa and south of 60° latitude in Europe and Asia to Indochina. The genus includes the domestic cat. The smallest Felis species is the black-footed cat with a head and body length from 38 to 42 cm. The largest is the jungle cat with a head and body length from 62 to 76 cm.
Pallas's cat, also called the manul, is a small wild cat with a broad, but fragmented distribution in the grasslands and montane steppes of Central Asia. It is negatively affected by habitat degradation, prey base decline and hunting. It has been classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2020.
The Asian golden cat is a medium-sized wild cat native to the northeastern Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and southern China. It has been listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since 2008, and is threatened by hunting pressure and habitat loss, since Southeast Asian forests are undergoing the world's fastest regional deforestation.
The African golden cat is a wild cat endemic to the rainforests of West and Central Africa. It is threatened due to deforestation and bushmeat hunting and listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. It is a close relative of both the caracal and the serval. Previously, it was placed in the genus Profelis. Its body size ranges from 61 to 101 cm with a 16 to 46 cm long tail.
Catopuma is a genus containing two Asian small wild cat species, the Asian golden cat and the bay cat . Both are typically reddish brown in colour, with darker markings on the head.
The flat-headed cat is a small wild cat native to the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra. It is an Endangered species, because the wild population probably comprises fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, with small subpopulations of no more than 250 adults. The population inhabits foremost wetlands, which are being destroyed and converted. For these reasons, it is listed on the IUCN Red List since 2008.
Prionailurus is a genus of spotted, small wild cats native to Asia. Forests are their preferred habitat; they feed on small mammals, reptiles and birds, and occasionally aquatic wildlife.
The marbled cat is a small wild cat native from the eastern Himalayas to Southeast Asia, where it inhabits forests up to 2,500 m (8,200 ft) altitude. As it is present in a large range, it has been listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since 2015.
Pardofelis is a genus of the cat family Felidae. This genus is defined as including one species native to Southeast Asia: the marbled cat. Two other species, formerly classified to this genus, now belong to the genus Catopuma.
The Felinae are a subfamily of the family Felidae. This subfamily comprises the small cats having a bony hyoid, because of which they are able to purr but not roar.
Leopardus is a genus of spotted small cats native to Central and South America, with one species extending into the southern United States.. The genus is considered the oldest branch of a lineage of small cats that crossed into the Americas, with the genera Lynx and Puma being later branches of the same group. The largest Leopardus species is the ocelot, and the kodkod is the smallest cat in the Americas. The margay is highly adapted to arboreal life.
Pantherinae is a subfamily within the family Felidae, which was named and first described by Reginald Innes Pocock in 1917. The Pantherinae and the Felinae diverged from a common ancestor between 10.8 and 11.5 million years ago.
Panthera gombaszoegensis, also known as the European jaguar, is a Panthera species that lived from about 2.0 to 0.35 million years ago in Europe. The first fossils were excavated in 1938 in Gombasek, Slovakia.
The Sunda Island tiger is a tiger subspecies native to the Sunda Islands in Indonesia. The name refers to the:
The Sunda clouded leopard is a medium-sized wild cat native to Borneo and Sumatra. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2015, as the total effective population probably consists of fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing population trend. On both Sunda islands, it is threatened by deforestation.
Styriofelis is an extinct genus of Felidae known from the Miocene of Europe.
Miopanthera is an extinct genus of Pseudaelurus-grade felids.
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