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Big Cats (Pantherinae, Neofelinae, Uncia and Acinonyinae)
Small Cats (A - E) | Small Cats (F - M) | Small Cats (O - S) | Big Cats | How Cats Purr
Image Common Name Scientific Name Distribution
Small Cats (A - E) | Small Cats (F - M) | Small Cats (O - S) | Big Cats | How Cats Purr
Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)
Bornean Clouded Leopard Neofelis diardi Borneo and Sumatra
For a long time, the Bornean clouded leopard was thought to be identical to the clouded leopards living on mainland Southeast Asia because they look similar, and neither cat roars. These cats are also similar in the respect that both are considered big cats because they have shortened faces and elongated lower canines like the true big cats, even though they both has the body size and shape of a small cat. And, Bornean have the same unique features that clouded leopards have, which distinguish it from other cats, both big and small, and place it in the ame Neofelis genus as the clouded leopard. However, recent genetic analysis has shown the Bornean clouded leopard to a completely separate species of clouded leopard. Scientists have counted at least 40 key differences in the DNA of the two species of clouded leopard - making them almost as different as a lion is to a tiger. Bornean clouded leopards are the biggest predators on Borneo.ň╩Some grow to be as large as a small jaguar.
Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus Africa, Asia
Cheetahs are classified as a big cat (roaring cat), but they can't roar. They have a rigid hyoid bone in their throat, so they can purr the same way small cats do. And, they lack the special morphology of the larynx necessary for roaring. Vocalization instead consists of purrs, bleats, barks, growls, hisses and a high pitched chirrup sound. Purring is reserved for family and coalition members, though. Cheetahs are the only big cats that can't fully retract their claws. Their claws are only semi-retractile providing extra traction for running and taking quick turns on the savannah. They also have hard pads on their paws to assist with traction. As a result, they are placed in their own genus - Acinonyx. Another way cheetahs are different from most other cats is that they are diurnal, which means they are active in the day. Most cats are nocturnal (active at night).
Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)
Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa Asia
The clouded leopard lives in the tropical rainforests of southeast Asia. Its range include China, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia and Sumatra. It is a considered big cat because it has a shortened face and elongated lower canines like the true big cats, even though it has the body size and shape of a small cat. Clouded leopards can't roar. They have a rigid hyoid bone (U-shaped bone located near the base of the skull and suspended above the larynx), so they can purr the same way small cats do. They also lack the special morphology of the larynx necessary for roaring.

The clouded leopard has an elongated skull that is different from all other cats, placing it in a separate genus - Neofelis, which literally means "new cat". The clouded leopard's teeth are different from other cats, too. Their canines are the largest in relation to their body size of any cat. And, there is a large gap between the canines and premolars, which enables them to take large bits out of their prey. Their species name nebulosa refers to the cloud-like patterns of their coat. Its genus is considered to be closer to Panthera than Felis.

Clouded leopards has relatively short legs and broad paws which make it excellent at climbing trees and creeping through thick forest, but clumsy on the ground. It can climb while hanging upside-down under branches and descend tree trunks head-first. It has have an exceptionally long, thick tail with black ring markings that it uses for balancing. The tail can be as long as the body itself. Another unique feature of the clouded leopard is its oblong pupils that are positioned horizontally unlike the round or linear pupils of other felines.
Jaguar (Panthera onca)
Jaguar Panthera onca North America, South America
The Jaguar is the only member of the big cats that lives in the Americas. It is also the largest feline in the Americas. Adult males can reach an overall length of more than 7 feet, and can weigh anywhere from 250 to 400 pounds. Jaguars can roar, but more often, they grunt, snarl, growl and mew. The name Jaguar comes from the ancient Indian name "yaguar" which meant "the killer which overcomes its prey in a single bound". Jaguars and leopards are often confused with one another because the coats are similar in appearance. But, the jaguar's coat has spots in the centers of the rosettes. A leopard's coat doesn't. Also, jaguars are stockier than leopards.
Lion (Panthera leo)
Lion Panthera leo Africa, Asia
Lions roars more than any other species, and the roar can mean many things including ways they communicate long distance and as a warning to other lions that they are getting to close to the pride's territory.Roaring grades from a soft "huh" to full-throated roars that could be heard 5 miles away. They'll also moan softly to each other, snarl, hiss, cough, make closed-mouth puffing sounds to greet each other and purr to show contentment. Lions are the most social of any cats (big or small). They live in family groups called a pride, which typically consists of 4-12 related adult females, their young, and 1-6 adult males. The size of the pride varies and depends on the amount of available prey. Male lions are 20 to 35% larger than the females and 50% heavier. Each pride has a dominant male whose main role is to protect the pride's territory and females from other males. Females do 80%-90% the hunting, and they raise the cubs.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Leopard Panthera pardus Africa, Asia
The leopard is one of the true big cats. It can roar. Its roar sounds like a person sawing through a very rough piece of wood. Leopards roar to define their territories or signal that they are alarmed. They also purr and meow, but this normally only takes place between mother and cubs. The name leopard comes from the Greek words for lion (leo) and panther (pardos). They are often confused with jaguars and cheetahs in zoos. Leopards are heavier than cheetahs, and their coat has a rosette pattern. Cheetahs have solid round spots. Jaguars also have a rosette pattern on their coat, but the rosettes have spots in the middle, and they are stockier than both the leopard and cheetah.
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)
Snow Leopard Uncia uncia or Panthera uncial Asia
Snow leopards are classified as big cats, but they can't roar. They have the same elastic segment in their hyoid bone that lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards have, so they purr the same way big cats do--making a chuffing type of sound only when breathing out (small cats can purr whether breathing in or out). However, due to the under-development of the fibro-elastic tissue that forms part of the vocal apparatus, they can't roar. Even though snow leopards don't roar, they do produce many sounds including chirps and a characteristic loud moan. Although the snow leopard its name with the common leopard, it is not believed to be closely related to the leopard or the other members of the Pantherine group and is classified as the sole member of the genus Uncia uncia.

The snow leopard is native to Central Asia from Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, to Lake Baikal and eastern Tibet. It generally inhabits elevations between 2000-4000 meters although it can occasionally be found at lower altitudes to the north of its range and as high as 5500 meters in Himalayan regions. The snow leopard is crepuscular, which means it's mainly active at dawn and at dusk. It is an opportunistic predator capable of killing prey three times its weight. Typical prey include the blue sheep (bharal) of the Himalaya and Tibet, and the ibex of the Karakorum, Tien Shan, Mongolian and Russian mountain ranges. Small prey such as marmots, pika, hares and game birds probably reduce dependency upon livestock as a source of food.
Tiger (Panthera tigris)
Tiger Panthera tigris Asia
The tiger is the largest member of Cats, with males weighing from 400 to 600 lb (180-275 kg) and females 300-350 lb (135-160 kg). Tigers, like lions, leopards and jaguars, roar. Roaring is how they communicate long distance with one another. A tiger's roar can be heard for over 3 km (2 miles). It will also roar as a warning to keep other tigers away or as an invitation to bring another tiger closer. Loud moans may also be heard in combinations with roars. Soft moans are how mothers gather their cubs and how individuals announce their arrival. Other ways tigers communicate including prusten (a short, noisy, low-intensity sound used as a friendly greeting or a reassuring call),; growls, snarls and hisses (used defensively and aggressively) and other close contact vocalizations including grunting, meowing, purring, and woofing.