Jungle Cat Key Facts

*   Mostly Asia range   *   Active day & night   *   Strong swimmers   *

Jungle Cat (Felis chaus)
Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) by Terry Whittaker

Jungle Cat Information



COMMON NAMES Although called the Jungle Cat in Asia, it is commonly known as the Swamp Cat or Reed Cat in Africa (subspecies Felis chaus nilotica) due to its occurrence in wet habitats.


NAME ORIGIN The name Felis chaus was derived from the Caucasus Mountains where the Jungle Cat was first discovered.


HISTORY The Jungle Cat was tamed by ancient Egyptians to hunt wildfowl and has been featured in Egyptian art. A few mummified remains have been found in tombs.

IDENTIFICATION The Jungle Cat's plain coat varies from sandy yellow to reddish in its southern range to shades of grey in the north. There are light brown stripes on the legs and a few rings on the tail which has a dark tip. The rounded ears have short tufts of black hair on the tips.


UNIQUE BEHAVIOUR Jungle Cats feed mainly on small rodents, birds, hares, fish and reptiles. They are often active in the daytime and are unusually good swimmers. In the wild they make use of the disused burrows of other animals but with the loss of habitat they are increasingly being sighted near human settlements.

JUNGLE CAT - Species Spotlight by Big Cat Rescue
Jungle Cat Distribution Map
Jungle Cat Distribution Map
Reproduced with permission from the book Cats of Africa

Jungle Cat Distribution

The Jungle Cat is widespread in Asia with the extreme edge of its range in north east Africa. The ten subspecies occur across Egypt, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, S.Russia, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Western China.

In its African range the Jungle Cat is associated with reeds and long grasses in wet habitats, however in Asia it occurs in dry grasslands, tropical deciduous forest and evergreen forest.


Click through on the map for the updated Jungle Cat distribution.

Jungle Cat Description

SIZE The Jungle Cat is about twice the size of a domestic cat. Males are larger than females.  

BODY The Jungle Cat is similar in stature to the African Wildcat however it is much larger and taller. The tail is relatively short compared to its body length.  

COAT The short haired coat is plain and can vary from sandy yellow or reddish to grey. The fur can look speckled due to the fine black tips on the guard hairs. Adults have pale stripes on their legs and rings on the black tipped tail. The throat and undersides are paler than the rest of the body. Kittens may have have spots or stripes but lose most of their markings as they mature. Black and melanistic Jungle Cats also occur.

Jungle Cat Physical Characteristics
Jungle Cat Physical Characteristics
Image Credit: Jungle cat sitting
© www.JamesWarwick.co.uk / www.photoshot.com
Image Source ARKive with permission
Jungle Cat Facial Characteristics
Jungle Cat Facial Characteristics
Image Credit: Jungle cat crouched in grass
© Jurgen & Christine Sohns / Animals Animals
Image Source ARKive with permission

HEAD The pointed face of the Jungle Cat has a white muzzle and white lines around the eyes. The rounded ears are reddish brown on the back and are tipped with small tufts of black hairs. The nose is pink with a black outline.


AGE In the wild - up to 14 years. In captivity - up to 20 years.

More Jungle Cat Information and Fact Sheets

1. ARKive Wildlife Imagery and Fact File - Jungle Cat Photos and Videos  

2. International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC) - Jungle Cat Fact Sheet  

3. IUCN Cat Specialist Group (CatSG) - Detailed Information and Academic Reference List - Jungle Cat Information

Arkive video - Jungle cat in habitat