IUCN Jungle Cat Distribution Map
Interactive map of the Jungle Cat's range by the IUCN Red List

The Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) distribution is widespread in South Asia, through parts of the Middle East to the extreme edge of its range in north east Africa. The one subspecies in Africa is associated with wetland habitat around the Nile river.


Jungle Cat Distribution in Africa

Jungle Cats only occur in one African country in the far north east region:

North Africa: Egypt

Jungle Cat Distribution outside of Africa

Other countries in the Jungle Cat's Middle East and Asian range are (IUCN Red List):

Middle East:  Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic

Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China; Georgia, India, Kazakhstan Lao, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam

Jungle Cat Subspecies

Up to ten subspecies of the Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) have been recognized in the past. However the last taxonomic revision of the Felidae cat family in 2017 proposed three subspecies, although further research is required:

1. Western Jungle Cat - Felis chaus chaus - Egypt and Middle East to Turkestan, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and Afghanistan  (riverine habitat)

2. Indian Jungle Cat - Felis chaus affinis - East Afghanistan, Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka (variety of habitats)

3. Eastern Jungle Cat - Felis chaus fulvidina - SE Asia, including China (variety of habitats)

For the full classification of this wild cat see Felis Lineage - Felis chaus Classification.

Jungle Cat (Felis chaus)

Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) in Grassland Habitat

Jungle Cat Habitat

In its African through western range the Jungle Cat is associated with reeds and long grasses in wet habitats. However in its eastern Asian range this cat occurs in dry grasslands, tropical deciduous forest and evergreen forest.

The IUCN Red List has standardised habitat types globally and the following types are suitable for Jungle Cats across its full range (IUCN Red List):

  • Forest
    • Temperate & Subtropical/Tropical Dry & Subtropical/Tropical Swamp
  • Savanna
    • Dry
  • Shrubland
    • Temperate & Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Grassland
    • Temperate & Subtropical/Tropical Dry
  • Wetlands (inland)
    • Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks
    • Shrub Dominated
    • Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
    • Freshwater Springs and Oases
  • Desert
    • Hot & Temperate

Where to see Jungle Cats in Africa

All of the medium to smaller cats are very difficult to spot in the wild. Many are nocturnal or crepuscular and rarely seen during the day. The best chances are to visit the national parks or local nature reserves of each country within their distribution, and go on the early morning and late afternoon to evening game drives.

iNaturalist is a global citizen science platform where people can post their sightings of animals in the wild. Identification is verified by other members and subsequently conservationists and scientists use this data in their important work.

If you have been lucky enough to spot one of the smaller cats in your travels, no matter how long ago, please upload your images to the platform and thus help with research and conservation of this species.

Here are links to view the sightings that have recently been posted:

Western Jungle Cat Observations

Indian Jungle Cat Observations

Jungle Cat Observations

(Note there are also images of dead animals if you are a sensitive viewer.)

Another excellent resource if you are planning a trip to Africa is the Mammal Watching website. Here comprehensive trip reports and mammal lists are posted by travellers that focus on observing the mammals of the world. Check out the trip reports listing Jungle Cats (and some by scientific name) in their sightings checklist as well as some stunning photos.

Indian Jungle Cat (Felis chaus affinis)
iNaturalist Indian Jungle Cat 0bservation India - © Ramesh Shenai Jr. CC BY

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