Animal Info - Marbled Cat

(Other Names: Chat Marbré, Gato Jaspeado, Kucing Batu, Kucing Dahan, Kyaung Tha Lin, Machan Akar, Maew Laey Hin On, Marbel Biral, Marmorkatze, Shi Ban Mao, Shi Mao, Xiao Yun Bao)

Pardofelis marmorata (Felis m.)

Status: Vulnerable


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Taxonomy, Population Estimates, Distribution, Threats)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Range)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Marbled Cat #1 (17 Kb JPEG) (IUCN Cat Spec. Gr.); Marbled Cat #2 (38 Kb JPEG) (Cat Act. Treas.); Marbled Cat #3 (39 Kb GIF) (Tigerhomes); Marbled Cat #4 (46 Kb JPEG) (IUCN Cat Spec. Gr.); Marbled Cat #5 (47 Kb JPEG) (Fauves du Monde) 

The marbled cat is about the size of a domestic cat. Its head and body length is 45 - 62 cm (18 - 24") and it weighs 2 - 5 kg (4 - 11 lb). Its tail is extremely long and bushy. The background color of its fur varies from dark gray-brown through yellowish gray to red-brown. The flanks and back are strikingly marked with large, irregular, dark-edged blotches. The legs and underparts are marked with black dots, and the tail is marked with black spots and rings. There are spots on the forehead and crown, which merge into narrow longitudinal stripes on the neck and irregular stripes on the back.

The marbled cat is primarily an animal of moist tropical forest, but there is only anecdotal information on the specificity of its habitat requirements. The range of habitat types the species has been recorded in includes mixed deciduous-evergreen forest areas, mountainous evergreen forest, secondary forest, clearings, six-year-old logged forest, and Dipterocarp forest. It has been found from sea level to 3000 m (10,000'). Birds and/or rodents have been reported as likely forming a major part of its diet. Although previously the marbled cat was considered to be primarily nocturnal (Nowell & Jackson 1996), recent studies have shown that it can be cathemeral, with observations of the cat having been made throughout the day. Observations of marbled cats in the wild have indicated arboreal and terrestrial habits. 

The marbled cat is found in northern India, Nepal, Guangxi and Yunnan provinces in China, and south through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra (Indonesia), and Borneo. Throughout its range it is thought to be rare, although it has also been suggested that the perception of the marbled cat's rarity may be caused by its secretive nature and its preference for remote forest areas. Because of its dependence on forest habitat, the major threat to the marbled cat is habitat destruction caused by felling of trees and the traditional, shifting, "jhum" method of local cultivation. The marbled cat is also thought to be intolerant of human disturbance, abandoning a forest that is even moderately disturbed. Poaching for skins, bones and meat may also be a threat. 


Tidbits

*** Cat Tidbit #8: Cats can hear in the 65 - 70 kHz range, well above the human limit of 15 - 20 kHz. Cats do not produce ultrasonic calls, so their ability to detect these high-frequency sounds is probably related to hunting. Rodent ultrasound communication occurs in the 20 - 50 kHz range, so small cats are well equipped to detect the sounds of their prey. (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002) (See Cat Tidbit #9.)

*** Superficially, the marbled cat looks like a house cat, but it possesses an odd mixture of small cat and big cat characteristics. For example, with its enlarged canines, blotched coat pattern, and broad feet, it resembles the larger clouded leopard, (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002)


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

[The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature; also called the World Conservation Union) is the world’s largest conservation organization. Its members include countries, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.  The IUCN determines the worldwide status of threatened animals and publishes the status in its Red List.]

  • 1986 - 1990: Indeterminate
  • 1994: Insufficiently Known
  • 1996: Data Deficient
  • 2002 - 2005: Vulnerable; (Criteria: C2a(i)) (Population Trend: Decreasing) (IUCN 2005) 

Countries Where the Marbled Cat Is Currently Found:

2005: Occurs in Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatra), Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Viet Nam. May occur in Bangladesh and Bhutan. (IUCN 2005)

Taxonomy:

Recent genetic analyses have lead to the proposal that all modern cats can be placed into eight lineages which originated between 6.2 - 10.8 million years ago. The marbled cat is placed in the "bay cat lineage," which diverged from its ancestors as a separate lineage 10.8 million years ago. The bay cat lineage also includes the Asiatic golden cat and the bay cat. (Johnson et al. 2006)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

Distribution:

The marbled cat is found in northern India, Nepal, Guangxi and Yunnan provinces in China, and south through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra (Indonesia), and Borneo. Throughout its range it is thought to be rare, although it has also been suggested that the perception of the marbled cat's rarity may be caused by its  secretive nature and its preference for remote forest areas. It is rarely seen in the wild. (Nowell & Jackson 1996, Sunquist & Sunquist 2002, IUCN 2005) 

Distribution Map #1 (2 Kb GIF) (Big Cats Online) 
Distribution Map #2 (Showing the areas where the two subspecies of the marbled cat are found: 1) P.m. marmorata - Southeast Asia, 2) P.m. charltoni - Nepal) (24 Kb GIF) (Fauves du Monde) 

Threats:

Because of its dependence on forest habitat, the major threat to the marbled cat is habitat destruction caused by felling of trees and the traditional, shifting, "jhum" method of local cultivation. The marbled cat is also thought to be intolerant of human disturbance, abandoning a forest that is even moderately disturbed. Poaching for skins, bones and meat may also be a threat. Other conservation issues include insurgency, straying into human habitation, and various developmental activities. (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002, Choudhury 2003)


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The head and body length of the marbled cat is 45 - 62 cm (18 - 24") and it weighs 2 - 5 kg (4 - 11 lb) (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002).

Habitat:

The marbled cat is primarily an animal of moist tropical forest, but there is only anecdotal information on the specificity of its habitat requirements. The range of habitat types the species has been recorded in includes mixed deciduous-evergreen forest areas, mountainous evergreen forest, secondary forest, clearings, six-year-old logged forest, Dipterocarp forest, and one animal that was described as living on a river cliff, which consisted of rocks overgrown with scrub and low bush. It has been found from sea level to 3000 m (10,000'). (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002, IUCN 2005) 

The marbled cat is found in the Himalaya, Indo-Burma, and Sundaland Biodiversity Hotspots (Cons. Intl. 2005).  

Age to Maturity:

21 - 22 months (captivity) (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002).

Gestation Period:

Estimated to vary from 66 - 82 days (captivity) (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002).

Birth Season:

Two litters were born in January and February; another in September (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002).

Birth Rate:

Litter size: 1 - 4 (captivity) (Nowell & Jackson 1996).

Early Development:

Captive kittens begin accepting meat at 121 days (Humphrey & Bain 1990).

Maximum Age:

At least 12 years and 3 months (captivity) (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002).

Diet:

Birds and/or rodents (such as squirrels and rats) have been reported as likely forming a major part of its diet, and possibly lizards and frogs are consumed (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002, Scott et al. 2004).

Behavior:

Although previously the marbled cat was considered to be primarily nocturnal (Nowell & Jackson 1996), recent studies have shown that it can be cathemeral, with observations of the cat having been made throughout the day and not indicating a crepuscular bias (Holden 2001). Observations of marbled cats in the wild have indicated arboreal and terrestrial habits (Grassman et al. 2005).

Range:

A female marbled cat who was radio-tracked for a brief period in the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand was using an area of 5.8 sq km (2.2 sq mi) (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002).


References

Big Cats Online, Cat Act. Treas., Choudhury 2003, Cons. Intl. 2005, Fauves du Monde, Grassman et al. 2005, Holden 2001, Humphrey & Bain 1990, IUCN 2005, IUCN Cat Spec. Gr., Johnson et al. 2006, Nowell & Jackson 1996, Scott et al. 2004, Sunquist & Sunquist 2002, Tigerhomes


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Last modified: March 12, 2006;

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