The Amur forest cat is a very beautiful, graceful animal. It belongs to the Bengal cats and is related to the Amur tiger and the Far Eastern leopard. In many literary sources it is found under the name of the Far Eastern cat. People for a long time did not attach importance to this type of animal. As a result, the population of the animal was significantly reduced, and they were practically on the verge of extinction.
Origin of the species and description
The Amur forest cat is an animal that belongs to chordate mammals. He is a representative of the carnivore order, the feline family, the subfamily of small cats, the genus of Asian cats, the Bengal cat species, the Amur forest cat subspecies.
The Far East is considered the historical homeland of the Bengal forest cat. To date, scientists cannot give a fairly detailed description of the origin and evolution of this animal. It was first described in 1871. From that moment on, the persecution began. The cat was hunted by poachers in order to obtain valuable fur for the production of collars and hats.
Video: Amur forest cat
Many zoologists believe that Amur tigers and forest cats have common ancient ancestors and their history goes back about one and a half million years. The remains of the ancient ancestor of animals were found on the territory of modern China, on the island of Java. According to certain signs, it was found that these remains belonged to an animal that was a member of the Panthera Paleogenesis class. Later, the ancestors of these animals spread to the territory of Asia, Siberia, and other regions. Their habitat was quite extensive.
For a long time, scientists did not attach any importance to this type of animal, not considering them significant. Such negligence led to irreparable consequences, as a result of which the number of animals decreased to critical numbers.
Appearance and features
Outwardly, the Amur forest cat is very similar to a large, fluffy cat. It has a number of characteristic features.
Characteristic features of the animal:
- long graceful limbs;
- hind limbs are slightly longer than the front ones;
- thick, long vibrissae on the muzzle;
- powerful, strong jaw with long, sharp fangs.
neat, beautifully shaped head, somewhat elongated in the nose;
Among the representatives of the cat family, Amur cats are one of the smallest. The mass of one adult is 6-8 kilograms. The height at the withers is 40-50 centimeters, the body length is about a meter. In these animals, sexual dimorphism is quite pronounced – females are more fragile and graceful compared to males. Animals are characterized by the presence of a long thin and very fluffy tail. The length of this part of the body can reach 40 centimeters.
It is noteworthy that Amur forest cats have a very flexible, graceful, elongated body. Beauty and grace is especially evident in the gait of the animal. Animals have very developed muscles, thanks to which they are distinguished by endurance and strength.
Interesting fact: A distinctive feature of animals is the presence of a strip of bare skin on the bridge of the nose.
Cats have expressive, deep-set and closely spaced eyes and small, rounded ears. The frontal part of the muzzle is quite wide and strong-willed. The nose is wide and flat. The fur of these amazing animals deserves special attention. It is thick, short and very fluffy. The guard hairs reach a length of up to five centimeters. In winter, animal fur becomes thicker and lighter in color to provide warmth and camouflage during the cold season.
The color of animals can be very diverse: from yellowish and gray to brown and brown. The lower part of the body, the abdomen, the limbs and the lateral surface of the body are always lighter in color. On various parts of the body there are spots in the form of an oval. They have a round shape, enclosed in circles of dark color. Young individuals have much more spots on their bodies than adults or old animals.
Where does the Amur forest cat live?
Most often, these animals can be found in the natural environment in the valleys of lakes, on the slopes of low mountains, in meadows and steppes with tall grass and vegetation. Found in dense reed beds. Often they can become inhabitants of forests. Moreover, they are not selective in the choice of forests. Some individuals can climb mountains to a height of no more than 400-550 meters above sea level. Often such animals are found near human settlements. The exceptions are regions where large-scale agricultural activities are organized.
Amur forest cats feel most comfortable on the territory of nature reserves and protected forest areas, where no one will disturb them. The animal prefers to settle in secluded places on the surface of the earth. It is unusual for him to climb too high. May occasionally appear in the taiga.
With the onset of winter and cold weather, during the period when snow falls, which is covered with an ice crust, animals hide in reliable shelters. Rock crevices, wide hollows of trees, abandoned and empty burrows of other animals can be used as such. Cats can leave their shelters only at the moment when the ice crust becomes strong and strong enough to support the body of a small fluffy animal.
By nature, animals are too shy, so it is extremely difficult to notice them. When a person or any other animal approaches, they rush to hide in their shelter or climb high up a tree.
What does the Amur forest cat eat?
Features of nutrition directly depend on the season and time of year. In the warm season, before the onset of cold weather, the cat tries to stock up on the maximum amount of fat in order to endure the cold and lack of food. In the warm season, one such cat is able to eat up to two or three dozen mice and several birds, despite its very small size. Thanks to this abundant food intake in the warm season, the animal can eat nothing in the winter for several weeks.
Interesting fact: Despite the fact that all other cats are natural predators and excellent hunters, the Amur forest cat is an exception to the general rule. He very rarely leaves his shelter, waiting for the prey to wander into his lair by itself. In this way, he sometimes manages to get enough of rodents.
The food base of the Amur forest cat:
- feathered birds of various sizes;
In some cases, cats may prey on larger prey – a small fallow deer or roe deer. It is unusual for these predators to go hunting often, but by nature they are endowed with amazing grace and skill in hunting. They choose a place for an ambush and wait for their prey. Hunting is often successful, as they are excellent climbers of tall trees and can attack their prey from a height.
In most cases, the victim does not even have time to understand that she is doomed. A dexterous predator grabs it and bites its neck with long and sharp fangs. Most often they go hunting in the dark, and during the day they hide in their shelters. If cats live near human settlements, they can hunt chickens and other poultry.
Character and lifestyle features
By nature, Amur cats are leisurely, graceful, and very cautious animals. They tend to lead a solitary lifestyle. With the onset of spring, when the breeding season begins, they gather in groups.
The entire habitat of Amur forest cats is divided between individuals into squares. For each adult individual, there are approximately 8-10 square kilometers. These predators are strongly attached to the region of their habitat. They leave it in rare exceptions only in case of emergency. They also tend to protect the territory they occupy from uninvited guests. Often, when another animal enters the property of cats, they enter into a fight with him.
By nature, predators are endowed with sharp intuition and quick wits. Many animals know this and do not dare to attack a cat, even if its size is several times smaller. In the process of attacking or fighting, they prefer waiting tactics. They are very accurate in assessing the situation. Each action of the cat is very balanced.
Predators tend to skillfully select and equip a place to live. They choose those places where I can hide from everyone. It can be rock crevices, snow-covered areas of forests, which are difficult to reach.
Amur cats practically do not make any sounds. Almost the only thing that animals emit is a trumpet roar, with the help of which males call females. Animals are perfectly adapted to survive in harsh winter conditions. They slow down all metabolic processes and blood circulation.
Social structure and reproduction
The mating season of animals falls on the end of February – March. During this period, the roar of males is regularly heard in the forest, which in this way encourages females to create a pair and mate. This is the only period of time for which individuals pair up to reproduce and raise offspring.
After mating, a gestation period begins, which lasts up to ten weeks. Each female is able to give birth to about 3-4 cubs. Amur forest cats are excellent parents who take great care of their offspring.
Little kittens are born, which are completely unsuitable for independent living. They are blind, almost devoid of hair. The cat feeds them with her milk for up to 2-3 months. Ten days after birth, their eyes open, and through the desire to explore the world around them, at about 1.5-2 months. By six months, they are almost ready to separate from their parents.
At first, cats are especially jealous of their offspring, because they know that they have many enemies, and kittens are extremely defenseless. When feeling danger, cats instantly drag their offspring to another, more secluded place. Both parents take part in the upbringing of offspring. The task of the male is to protect and provide food for his cubs and the female.
There are cases when Amur cats abandoned their cubs. This happens extremely rarely, and only with primiparous females. Often abandoned kittens were picked up by domesticated cats and raised. Due to the similarity with domestic cats in animals that live near human settlements, there are cases of mating with domestic cats.
An interesting fact: Zoologists have been able to establish that as a result of such crossing, all male sexes are born sterile, and females are fertile.
Natural enemies of the Amur forest cat
Despite that Amur forest cats are excellent hunters, very cautious and quick-witted, they have a large number of natural enemies.
Natural enemies of the animal:
Each of the above enemies will not miss the opportunity, if necessary, to hunt the Amur forest cat, or its cub. Nocturnal predators pose a particular threat to animals, which go hunting at dusk, at the same time as Amur cats. Predators are especially dangerous not so much for adults, sexually mature individuals, but for small and defenseless kittens. Adults are quite difficult to track down, as they practically do not leave a reliable shelter.
In addition, they are not afraid to fight even with larger and more experienced predators. Often in an unequal fight, cats win by virtue of quick wit and cunning. People most often do not pose any threat to animals. They are not hunted or shot. In many countries of the world, these predators are purchased and bred as domestic animals.
Species population and status
Due to the inattention and negligence of people, Amur forest cats are on the verge of extinction. In this regard, they were listed in the Red Book of Russia. They are also protected by the Sites Convention. According to the instructions of the latter, zoologists have made a lot of efforts to create optimal conditions for the life of Amur cats. Today they exist on the territory of various reserves and national parks. In this regard, an increase in the number of these graceful predators has recently been observed.
The main threat to the habitation of these representatives of the cat family is the deprivation of the natural habitat region. This happens due to deforestation, plowing of land and human development of large areas. Forest fires played a significant role in reducing the population. To a lesser extent, the state of the population was affected by domestication, hybridization with domestic cats and hunting.
The most stable and numerous populations remain in the Khankaisky and Khasansky districts of Primorsky Krai. In these regions, the approximate number of individuals is 3-4 per 10 square meters. About 2-3 thousand individuals live in the entire Primorsky Territory. In Japan, the number of these cats is very small, about six & # 8212; seven dozen individuals live on the territory of zoos, where zoologists tend to breed them.
Protection of the Amur forest cat
Far Eastern cats are listed in the Red Book. They are under guard. In Japan, animals are also under state protection. In the International Red Book, this species of animals has been assigned the status of an endangered species. Only recently the number of this species began to gradually increase. According to scientists, the approximate number of animals in the world does not exceed four thousand individuals. In Russia, in 2004, they even issued a series of commemorative coins with the image of the Amur cat as a symbol of the need to preserve these animals.
Animals live in several reserves and national parks in Primorsky Krai:
- leopard land;
- cedar valley;
In the Khabarovsk Territory, they are kept in the conditions of the Bolshekhekhiretsky Reserve. In regions where the animal lives in natural conditions, administrative punishment in the form of fines is imposed for killing it. In addition, an explanatory conversation is held with the population about the benefits of cats in the fight against rodents and other pests and carriers of dangerous infectious diseases.
The Amur forest cat is a very beautiful and graceful representative of the cat family, which is under threat of extinction. Today, it depends only on a person whether the animal population can recover.