Jungle Cats -- One cool kitty
The jungle cat, commonly called the swamp lynx or reed cat is a wild cat that is spread over many continents. Due to the pointed ears and the long legs this cat resembles a small lynx, hence the name "swamp lynx", but are not related to a true lynx cat. Contrary to its name, it is found in a variety of habitats but does not live in "jungles". Like the African wildcats and domestic cats, the Jungle Cat has been mummified and placed in tombs in Ancient Egypt. They are also depicted hunting small birds and mammals in Egyptian wall paintings. Considerably larger than the African wildcat, the ancestor of the domestic cats, the jungle cat was trained for hunting wildfowl in Ancient Egypt.
Depending on what on the subspecies, the colour of the fur is yellowish-grey to reddish-brown. As adults, the body is void of marking with the exception of some bars on the legs. The ears are tall and rounded and are reddish with small lynx-like tufts on the tips. The tail is short, ringed faintly, and has a black tip. Melanistic animals have been seen. Adults weigh between 9-28 pounds, reach heights of 14-16 inches, and lengths of 28-48 inches. Kittens are born with stripes for safe concealment, which they lose as they mature.
This cat is widely distributed over Egypt, West and Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, China, Nepal, Turkey, Thailand, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Indo-China, and Iran to name a few countries. They inhabit a greater range of habitats which, as well as marsh and swampland on forest edges. However, the jungle cat is not found in the denser tropical rain forests as its name might suggest. The jungle cat is not a particularly shy creature and can be often found close to human habitation, hunting in crop fields and plantations for small rodents. In India, it has been reported to inhabit disused buildings on the edge of human settlements.
Jungle cats prey primarily upon small mammals, birds, bandicoot rats, reptiles and amphibians. They are also known to kill porcupines and will readily take fish, frogs and snakes. They are potential predators on game birds, and domestic poultry as well. Those cats living close to bodies of water are able to swim and dive in order to catch fish.
The reproductive season varies regionally and mating is often accompanied by distinctive "barks" from the males, sounding similar a large dog. In captivity, males have been observed to be very protective of their offspring, more than the females of their own species, or males of other cat species. The litter size is generally large, usually consisting of 3 -6 young and are born after a gestation period of approximately 65 days. The kittens are quite large at birth (4 to 5 ounces) and have a daily weight gain of approximately (3/4 of an ounce) per day. Jungle cat kittens are weaned at about 15 weeks and are independent at approximately 8 - 10 months, they reach sexual maturity at around 18 months. This species has been hybridized with the domestic cat, producing the "chausie" breed.
The greatest threat facing this cat is reclamation and destruction of natural wetlands. Also, they are killed by farmers because of their taste for domestic poultry, and sportsmen donít like them because their prey base is the sportsmanís game species. This species is often assessed as being in no danger and has therefore been ignored as a rare species. In fact, in recent years a clearer picture has showed that this species could well be among the rarest of the small cats in Asia, and definitely the rarest one for which there is no protection within most of its current distribution. The species is assumed to be rare in its marginally African range. It is also assumed to be rather rare throughout the Middle East, where it is heavily hunted and poisoned and it is likely that this species is scarce in most parts of the Middle East. The species is assumed to be quite common in the Caucasus, although it is heavily hunted there for its fur.