Wikijunior:Big Cats/Marbled cat

The marbled cat is the big cat that isn't big at all, only slightly larger than a domestic cat. Scientists place it in the same closely related group as the lion, tiger and leopard, the Subfamily Pantherinae, and even though it's much smaller than the clouded leopard it has the same long fangs and a very similar fur pattern. Scientific examination of their blood (blood serum analysis) suggests that they are similar in form to the forest ancestors of the big cats some ten million years ago. However, they may have also decreased in size more recently due to competition with other big cats.

Where do marbled cats live?

Places where marbled cats live are colored blue.

The marbled cat may be found in the forests of the Malay peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and some neighboring small islands.

What do marbled cats look like?


Marbled cats look similar to clouded leopards but they are smaller, have shorter faces more like a domestic cat, and have a fuzzier tail. Its beautiful, striking coat is pale brown, with irregular slightly darker brown blotches sharply outlined in dark brown or black. Its long cylindrical tail is full from rump to tip and carries its body pattern.

What do marbled cats eat, and how do they catch their prey?


Marbled cats spend a great deal of time in the trees and it is likely that they catch much of their prey there, hunting birds, squirrels, rodents, frogs and reptiles. They have been seen hunting on the ground on the island of Borneo, and this may be a local habit. Not much is known about their habits because they are rare in the wild and there are no specimens currently kept in zoos.

Fun facts

  • Marbled cats make sounds similar to a domestic cat, but they purr rarely and their meow is somewhat like a twittering bird call.
  • The longest a marbled cat lived in captivity was 12 years.

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