Asian Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii)

asiatic-golden-cat-portrait

  • Name: Asian golden cat
  • Latin: Catopuma temminckii
  • Classification: Mammal
  • Origin: Asia
  • Lifespan: Up to 18 years
  • AKA: Asiatic golden cat, Temminck’s golden cat

Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
  • Order: Carnivora (Carnivores)
  • Family: Felidae (Cats)
  • Genus: Catopuma (Asian cats)
  • Species: Catopuma temminckii (Asian golden cat)

Apperance

Length: Body: 66-105cm (36-41in) Tail: 40-57cm (16-22in)
Weight: 6-15kgs (13.2-33lbs)

The Asian golden cat is a medium-sized, well-proportioned cat which is generally twice the size of a regular house cat. It has short round ears with a deep golden coat which fades to white on its undersides. Faint brown spotting is also evident on this cat. They have distinctive grey patches behind each ear and a white line, boarded in black runs from each eye to the top of its head.

Relatives

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  • Snow leopard (Panthera unica) -ENDANGERED-
  • Cheetah (Acinonyx jabatus) -VULNERABLE-
  • Lion (Panthera leo) -VULNERABLE-
  • Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) -VULNERABLE-

Habitat & Distribution

The Asian golden cat is generally found in dense tropical and sub-tropical forests. In the Himalayas, they can be found in altitudes of up to 10,000 feet.

These cat can be found from Tibet (China), Nepal and Sikkim (India) through southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra (Indonesia). Areas of good habitat still exist in Bhutan, parts of north-eastern India and China though it is thought to be uncommon in these areas.

Map of distribution of the Asian golden cat
Map of distribution of the Asian golden cat

Diet

The primary prey of the Asian golden cat is small to medium sized animals, including tree hyraxes, large and small rodents, small antelopes and birds. Fallen, injured monkeys and scavenged eagle kills are also an important part of their diet. They are mainly nocturnal and crepuscular and hunt using the stalk and rush method.

Behaviour

Not much is known about the behaviour of the Asian golden cat because of it elusiveness and what is known has been observed from cats in captivity. They have a wide range of vocalizations including hissing, spitting, meowing, purring, growling and gurgling. Other methods if communication include scent marking, urine spraying, raking trees and logs with their claws and rubbing their heads against various objects, much like that of a domestic house cat. They are a territorial and solitary species who prefer to be on the ground, although they are capable of climbing trees if necessary.

Reproduction

After a gestation of approximately 80 days, the female Asian golden cats will give birth to a litter of 1-3 kittens, with 1 being the average. The new-borns weigh approximately 8.75 ounces at birth, their eyes open after 9 days and are weaned at around 6 months. The females reach sexual maturity at 18-24 months and the males at 2 years.

asian-golden-cat-cub
Asian golden cat kitten

Adaptations

  1. The Asian golden cat has a dark brown coloured coat which helps it to blend in with its surroundings and remain undetected by its prey.
  2. Like a lot of cats, the Asian golden cat uses scent marking to establish a territory. It does this through urine spraying and clawing on trees and logs.
  3. The Asian golden cat also has very powerful muscles and can take down prey much larger than itself, such as water buffalo calves.
  4. The Asian golden cat has very powerful claws which it uses to help it climb into trees and bring down its prey.

Threats

The main threat to the survival of the Asian golden cat is deforestation but it is also hunted for its pelt and bones. Its meat is considered a delicacy and often the whole animal is roasted on a spit. The bones are ground into powder and then given to children as a medication for fever. They are also persecuted by livestock farmers.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

In their native countries, Asian wild cats are protected by nature reserves and wildlife parks, which protects them from poachers. Also, 8 European zoos are participating in the European Endangered Species Programme which is working to increase their numbers, although there are only 20 individuals produced by this programme since December 2008. The Asian golden cat is also bred in many other zoos around the world.

Fun Facts

Male: Tom, Gib
Female: Molly, Queen
Young: Kitten
Group: Clowder

-According to regional legend, burning the fur, eating the flesh or carrying a single hair of the Asian golden cat will drive tigers away.
-Believed by the locals to be fierce but is actually docile and tranquil.

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