Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Leopard Cat

The Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis (synonym Felis bengalensis) is the commonest wild cat in Borneo although few people have actually seen it. This is because it is a nocturnal animal that is active only at night and spends the day in a den that may be a hollow tree, a cavity under roots or a small cave. It lives and breeds mainly in forests and secondary jungle, as well as plantations and farms near the jungle feeding on rodents, reptiles, small birds, insects, frogs and even sometimes fish – almost anything that it can catch.

It is a beautiful domestic cat-sized animal that looks very much like a mini leopard! But to see it we have to go into the jungle or drive along jungle side roads or in plantations with a bright torch or spot light. That is how I managed to get my photographs.

It looks so cute that many people are tempted to catch them to keep as pets but as everybody knows wild caught animals do not make good pets and could only be kept cruelly imprisoned in a cage. However if you still like to keep a domesticared mini leopard in your home it is possible to buy a Bengal Cat which is a commercially produced by interbreeding a house cat with a P. bengalensis. You may be interested to look at this link:

Prionailurus bengalensis is widely distributed throughout Asia. It is found from Borneo, Java and Bali, north to southeastern Siberia and Manchuria, as far east as India, and westward to Korea and the Philippines. The subspecies found in Borneo is P. b. borneoensis.

Photo 2: This is a pair of courting cats, I was alerted to them by the loud

cat-fight sounds they made - just like those of domestic cats when they mate!

Bornean names: Wild cats in general are called kucing hutan in Malay, while the Kadazan/Dusun/Sungai call them tompu, ompu or talom. I don't know what Leopard Cat are specificly called in this dailects, would be glad if some readers could enlighten me. In Iban wild cats are mayau tebiang, I'm told, while the Muruts and Kelabits have the name tubang for leopard cat.