Golden Cats -
two of the same in different places
There are 2 species of
golden cats. The Asian and the Africa. For ease, I have combined them both
to this one page as they are fairly similar.
African Golden Cat is a medium sized cat close in size to
a Caracal. Although its name implies a golden coloured coat, its base coat coloration varies
extensively depending on its location, ranging from a golden/reddish
brown to slate/silver grey. The under sides of the chin, chest and
abdomen are usually lighter and in some cases almost pure white and
in some individuals the head and body is spotted. Their tail is lond
and is marked with dark line along the top and ends in a brown
or black tip. The head caries distinctive light markings around the
eyes and above the mouth - the small ears are dark coloured on the
The primary habitat of
the African species appears to be the tropical rain forest, however
penetration into the adjoining tropical dry forests and savannah
scrub is also in evidence. To the east of its range in Uganda they have been known to inhabit regions up to10,000 feet and be
present as far east as western Kenya.
Very little is known of
the lifestyle and biology of them due to its dense rain
forest habitat . Most reports suggest that golden cat is a solitary
crepuscular hunter but has been seen hunting in daylight hours in parts
of its range. Apart from duika and other small antelope it is
thought that the main part of the diet is made up of rodents, tree
hyraxes and birds. Small monkeys are also known to be taken by the
cat which may suggest that although thought of as mainly
terrestrial, they are also active in the lower
branches of the forest canopy and can climb well.
Not a lot
is known of their
biology and reproduction, but what is knownhas been gained from
captive bred animals, The litter size is small, usually consisting
of 1-2 young and are born after a gestation period of approximately
75 days. The kittens are weaned at about 14 weeks and reaches
maturity at about 18 months of age.
Local tribes hunt the
fur and especially the tail of the African golden cat for ceremonial
use, and hunting does not provide a major threat to the golden cat.
However through a gradual increases in the timber trade, loss of the
habitat and subsequent decline in prey species is a threat in many
parts of the cats range.
Human encroachment and deforestation in West Africa
have probably led to fragmentation and
declines in populations of the African golden cat, unless migration
is possible along riverine corridors. The bush meat trade, which is
a significant component of the regionís economy, is depleting
populations of small antelope prey, which may lead to increased
incidence of livestock depredation by the African golden cat and consequent persecution
of the cat. There appears to be little hunting of this cat.
The fact that the African golden cat does well
in secondary forest, combined with its ability to survive on small
rodents, suggests that it is in less danger of extinction than many
other small cats.
Asian Golden Cat, often referred to as Temminckís
Golden Cat is found throughout South East Asia. Although it shares
its name and in certain respects much of its coloration and markings
with its cousin found in Africa, it is now considered a separate
species. The asiain species has more marking on the face.
The colouration of the Asian species
can vary greatly from a reddish golden brown through to grey and
melanistics have also been sighted. The markings seem to
vary as much as the base coloration. In the south of its range the
cat is commonly without markings except for faint spots on its under
parts, white line markings running up across its head, along its
cheeks and from the corner of its eyes. In common with the
Bornean Bay Cat, which some suggest it may be related,
it also has a white stripe marking on the underside of the end of
its tail. Further north in its range, the cat can be more heavily
marked with dark reddish brown spots and stripes.
The habitat on the Asian
species is generally dense tropical and sub-tropical
forest although in the Himalayas the cat can be found at altitudes
up to 10,000 feet. Thought to be generally nocturnal, little is
known of their prey species, however for a cat of its size, which
can be as much as 40 inches in body length, it is probable that they hunt mainly large rodents, small deer,
reptiles, birds and amphibians.
thought to be under threat in much of its range from deforestation
and loss of habitat and this coupled with the pressures of hunting
for its pelt has led the cat to be listed in
CITES Appendix 1.