The Asian leopard cat is a species of wild cat that is commonly known as the ancestor of the bengal cat. These small cats are native to Asia and while some people may own them as pets, they cannot be easily domesticated and there are strict regulations surrounding their ownership. The Asian leopard cat is slightly larger than most domestic cats with long hind legs and a muscular build. Their size can vary based on region, with over 20 documented subspecies found across Asia. Those found in Southeast Asia are smaller and rarely weigh more than 10 pounds, while those found in Southern Asia are longer but weigh less than bengals. The Northern Asian subspecies are about the same weight as bengals but are almost 10 inches longer.
The Asian leopard cat has a natural lifespan of 8-12 years, which is shorter than most domestic cats. Bengals, on the other hand, can live up to 16 years. Owning an Asian leopard cat as a pet is regulated and requires licensing in most states and countries. Only those who own animal exhibits or use animals for research are allowed to own them in the US. Six states in the US have no regulations on owning exotic cats as pets, but owning an Asian leopard cat is not ideal as they require more time and attention than domestic animals. They are also more prone to behavioral issues and may further affect their population negatively. If legal, Asian leopard cats cost around $4,000-$15,000 depending on region and gender. The species is currently listed as “least concern” by CITES, but deforestation, hunting, habitat loss, and other factors threaten their conservation. Their diet consists of small rodents, lizards, amphibians, birds, fish, and insects. The natural habitat of the Asian leopard cat is across most of Asia, with concentrations in Korea, Taiwan, and China.
The Asian leopard can live in various habitats, such as rainforests, valleys, and coastal areas, depending on the subspecies of the leopard cat. The two main subspecies are P. b. euptilura and P. b. bengalensis. P. bengalensis is mostly found in South and East Asia, while P. euptilura can be located in regions such as Manchuria, Russia, Korea, and Taiwan. The natural habitat of the Asian leopard spans across 21 countries in Asia. Though the hunting and commercial trade of the species has declined in recent years, the overall stability of their population remains uncertain. Consequently, it is imperative to purchase bengal cats from reputable and knowledgeable breeders who are capable of properly caring for these hybrid and wild cats. Although the Asian leopard is similar in size to a house cat, it possesses the spirit of a tiger and is responsible for one of the most beautiful and playful cat breeds worldwide: the bengal. Photo credit: source.