Two New Species of Wild Cat

Two new species of wild cat have just been classified by the Cat Classification Task Force! This brings the total number of wild cats up to forty species. The two new species are the African Wild Cat(Felis lybica) and Sunda Leopard Cat(Prionailurus javanensis).

African Wild Cat

Arkive image - African wildcat stalking prey

The African Wild Cat (Felis lybica) was previously considered a subspecies of the European Wild Cat (Felis silvestris). It’s former scientific name was Felis silvestris lybica. It is found in Africa and Asia.

There are three tentative subspecies for this new species:
Felis lybica lybica – Found in east, west, and north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, Corsica, Sardinia and Crete.
Felis lybica cafra – Found in southern Africa
Felis lybica ornata – Found in southwest and central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Mongolia, and China.

Sunda Leopard Cat

Arkive photo - Leopard cat in mangrove habitat

The Sunda Leopard Cat (Prionailurus javanensis) was previously considered a subspecies of the newly re-named Mainland Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). It’s former scientific name was Prionailurus bengalensis javanensis. It is found in Java, Bali, Borneo, Sumatra, Palawan, Negros, Cebu and Panay, Philippines, and possibly the Malayan Peninsula.

There are two two recognized subspecies for this new species:
Prionailurus javanensis javanensis – Found in Java and Bali
Prionailurus javanensis sumatranus – Found in Borneo, Sumatra, Palawan, Negros, Cebu and Panay, and the Philippines

It is important to recognize that these animals were not discovered in the traditional sense of finding previously unseen individuals in the field. Rather, taxonomists and geneticists determined through morphological, genetic, and biogeographical data that species previously thought to be the same, are in fact multiple species. With time, these findings may change again. Species may be lumped back into one, or split even further.

For the full list of the forty species of wild cat, including the two new additions, please see my list here.


Cat News, Special Issue, Number 11, Winter 2017: A revised taxonomy of the Felidae

List of the Wild Cat Species of the World

Updated on May 9th, 2017 to reflect new taxonomic decisions made by the IUCN Cat Specialist Group’s Cat Classification Task Force.

Wild Cat Species Silhouettes

So how many different species of wild cats are there in the world? That depends on who you ask. The answer ranges from 37 to 42 species. The reason for this is that cat taxonomy is incredibly difficult and genetic analysis is still shedding light on the matter. Just in early 2017, the Sunda Leopard Cat was determined to be its own species from the Leopard Cat — now called the Mainland Leopard Cat. So, to clear things up, I put together the most accepted list of the 40 wild cat species in the world. This list will undoubtedly change in the future, especially as genetic analysis reveals that current species are actually multiple different species, but I’ll be sure to update it when that happens. The list is organized by the eight different feline lineages. Finally, the underlined common names are links to pictures I have of that species.

Common Name Latin Name Lineage
1. Lion Panthera leo
2. Leopard Panthera pardus
3. Jaguar Panthera onca
4. Tiger Panthera tigris Panthera Lineage
5. Snow Leopard Panthera uncia
6. Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa
7. Sunda Clouded Leopard Neofelis diardi
8. Asiatic Golden Cat Catopuma temminckii
9. Borneo Bay Cat Catopuma badia Bay Cat Lineage
10. Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata
11. Caracal Caracal caracal
12. African Golden Cat Caracal aurata Caracal Lineage
13. Serval Leptailurus serval
14. Geoffroy’s Cat Leopardus geoffroyi
15. Guiña Leopardus guigna
16. Southern Oncilla Leopardus guttulus
17. Northern Oncilla Leopardus tigrinus Ocelot Lineage
18. Andean Cat Leopardus jacobita
19. Colocolo Leopardus colocolo
20. Margay Leopardus wiedii
21. Ocelot Leopardus pardalis
22. Iberian Lynx Lynx pardinus
23. Eurasian Lynx Lynx lynx Lynx Lineage
24. Canada Lynx Lynx canadensis
25. Bobcat Lynx rufus
26. Mountain Lion Puma concolor
27. Jaguarundi Herpailurus yagouaroundi Puma Lineage
28. Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus
29. Mainland Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis
30. Sunda Leopard Cat Prionailurus javanensis
31. Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus
32. Flat-headed Cat Prionailurus planiceps Leopard Cat Lineage
33. Rusty-spotted Cat Prionailurus rubiginosus
34. Pallas Cat Otocolobus manul
35. European Wild Cat Felis silvestris
36. African Wild Cat Felis lybica
37. Chinese Mountain Cat Felis bieti
38. Sand Cat Felis margarita Domestic Cat Lineage
39. Black-footed Cat Felis nigripes
40. Jungle Cat Felis chaus

The currently listed subspecies that are sometimes listed as their own species.

Common Name Latin Name Sometimes Classified As
Pampas Cat Leopardus colocolo pajeros Leopardus pajeros
Pantanal Cat Leopardus colocolo braccatus Leopardus braccatus
Iriomote Cat Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis Prionailurus iriomotensis