Often found living around farms and other human settlements, the jungle cat is a fierce and robust little predator. It has a sandy grey to reddish coat with tabby stripes along its legs, a dark tail tip and black tufts on its large ears. It has good hearing and is very agile, often leaping almost 2 m (6.5 ft) into the air to catch birds as they fly past.
There is no distinct breeding season, so litters may be born throughout the year. Kittens are generally darker than the adults, with more pronounced stripes. Male jungle cats are often more protective of their young than females, and family groups are common.
This species, along with the African wildcat, was sacred to the ancient Egyptians, who trained them to catch birds – possibly the start of the domestication of cats.
Jungle cats were worshipped as guardians of the underworld by the ancient Egyptians. Their mummified remains have been found in tombs throughout ancient Egypt.
While the jungle cat is common, it shows greater density in natural wetlands than near human habitations, and may be suffering from loss of habitat.
Distribution: Middle East, India and south-east China.
Habitat: Jungles and swamps.
Food: Small mammals, lizards and frogs.
Size: 50 – 75 cm (20 – 30 in); 4 – 16 kg (9 – 35 lb).
Maturity: 18 months.
Breeding: 3 – 5 young.
Life span: 15 years.