Continuing our look at Small wild cat lineages we have come to the Pardofelis lineage. This was the second to diverge after the Panthera lineage and is understood to contain 3 of our current small wild cats. It’s believed this divergence occurred around 9.4 million years ago. The three cats in this lineage are the Bornean Bay cat, the Asiatic Golden cat and the Marbled Cat. There is evidence to suggest the marbled cat should be reclassified as two separate species either side of the Kra Isthmus, a narrow part of the Malay Peninsula in Asia. Although the three cats don’t look particularly similar to one another one thing of note is they all have a relatively small rounded head. It is unknown why this might be.
The Asiatic Golden Cat is closely related to the Bay cat and at one point they were considered the same species, however genetic analysis has confirmed they’re separate species with a common ancestor dating back approximately 4.9 – 5.3 million years ago. It is also not related to the African Golden Cat as it was once classified. These cats live throughout most of Asia and also on Sumatra but not Borneo. They are generally considered cathemeral although typically more active at dusk than at night. Asiatic Golden cats are primarily found in forested areas and therefore are under-threat from deforestation and illegal hunting. They are classified as Near Threatened.
The Bornean Bay cat is, as you may have guessed, endemic to the island of Borneo and is one of the rarest cats in the world. Because of the lack research carried out on this cat we know very little about their hunting techniques, their ecology or even whether they’re social animals or solitary. Bay cats are classified as Endangered and alongside the Asiatic Golden cat they are the only two members of the genus Catopuma.
The Marbled cat is probably the least similar of the three cats with an appearance more typical of a clouded leopard (especially the tail). This can most likely be tracked to its life in the trees (see previous post on tails). Like most Asian cats, information on social and reproductive behaviour is sparse with most focus on the larger cats. Due the occasional sightings of pairs of Marbled cats it has been thought they may form long term mating partnerships however as with most cats species the camera trap footage reveals a more likely solitary life in the forests. Like the Asiatic cat, the Marbled cats depends on thick, dense forest vegetation so are threatened greatly by logging and plantations for Palm Oil. Marbled Cats are classified as Vulnerable.
Next time we will be looking at the Caracal Lineage…