Reed cat

Reed cat is a graceful handsome man. It is quite large compared to an ordinary cat, its appearance and coloring resembles a lynx. In addition to the main one, you can find other names for this animal: house, jungle cat, swamp lynx, Nile cat. This brave feline predator is listed in our country in the Red Book.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Jungle Cat

Photo: Jungle Cat

The reed cat has been known since antiquity, the Egyptians called it “Nile”. It was they who first tamed him, this happened more than three thousand years ago. With this most interesting predator, they hunted ducks. This became known thanks to the found rock paintings, which show how cats swim with prey to people. The cat also acquired its second nickname “house” from the Egyptian people, it is translated as “house”, because this cat lived in their houses.

Previously, these cats were popular pets in 25 different countries around the world, although their reputation was often in doubt. For many, the house remained a wild and dangerous predator, which was not averse to feasting on poultry, so it was feared in the villages. One of the first to describe this type of animal was the traveler and naturalist Johann Anton Guldenshtedt, who was in the service of Catherine II during his expedition along the southern borders of the Russian Empire, this happened in 1776.

Still, in those days there were cat lovers and brought out a new breed, very similar to the reed cat, but not so aggressive and wild. This was obtained by crossing an ordinary domestic cat and a Nile. The bred breed was named “Felis chaus”, it was believed that they had a more docile disposition.

Then other hybrids were bred, which almost did not differ in appearance from the reed cat, but had a more meek character. There are now 10 swamp lynx breeds that inhabit the world.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Wild jungle cat

Photo: Wild jungle cat

Compared to an ordinary cat, the reed cat has much larger dimensions. The body of a wild cat in length is from 60 to 90 cm, this is not counting the tail, which reaches up to 30 – 35 cm in length. Weight is also quite large – from 5 to 12 kg. The height at the withers of the cat reaches half a meter. Smaller cats inhabit Thailand and the island of Sri Lanka, while the largest ones are seen in the Caucasus and Palestine.

It is not for nothing that the reed cat is associated with a lynx, because its entire appearance clearly resembles it, both in color and in funny black tassels on the ears. The color of the cat is grayish-sand color, similar to the color of dry reeds. There is a slightly pronounced pattern on it in the form of dark spots or stripes, it is more noticeable in young individuals and cubs, mainly the stripes are located on the legs and tail. The cat's fur is short, coarse. In summer, it sheds a lot, and by winter it becomes densely stuffed and very thick.

The tone of the color of Nile cats may vary slightly, it depends on the region of their habitat, it happens:

  • light sand;
  • reddish yellow;
  • light brown;
  • grayish yellow.

The paws of jungle cats are very powerful, strong with large sharp claws. The reed cat's muzzle is rounded and elongated to the bottom, of medium size relative to its physique. The external features of the Nile cat are fully consistent with all cats, and the color of the fur coat allows it to easily merge with the natural landscapes of the places where it lives.

Where does the jungle cat live?

Photo: Jungle cat in nature

Photo: Jungle cat in nature nature

Reed cats love a warm climate, thanks to which Central Asia and the Caspian coast are their favorite places of residence. Also, they live near the rivers of Africa (Nile), in Thailand, on the island of Sri Lanka, in Palestine, India, Indochina, in the east of Eurasia, in the Caucasus. On the territory of the Russian Federation, except for the Caspian Sea, they can be found in Dagestan and in the lower reaches of the Volga River.

Cats hate open areas, so they get out on them in rare cases, without moving far from their place of permanent deployment. Cats love shrubs and reed thickets, where they feel most at ease and safe. Seals love to settle in coastal shrub and reed zones. Houses are not at all fond of building their dwellings, but prefer to settle in empty fox, badger holes. They do not live in them for a long time, all the time moving to new places for security purposes. On the shore you can see cat tracks, these reed cats leave them on the shallows. They are great swimmers and divers, hunting for both water birds and fish.

If a cat lives in a mountainous area, then he does not like to climb higher than 800 – 1000 meters, preferring his bushy, often prickly jungle. The cat does not particularly want to contact people, leading a secretive and cautious lifestyle. During cold winters and early spring, it can visit human villages, making bandit raids, with the aim of stealing poultry, which it loves to feast on.

What does the jungle cat eat?

Photo: What a jungle cat looks like

Photo: What a jungle cat looks like

We can say that the reed cat is an omnivore that feeds on almost everything that falls under its clawed paw. He is not averse to eating birds, catching them in flight; eggs from nests also form part of his diet. It catches a cat and all kinds of rodents (field mice, ground squirrels, martens), sitting by a mink waiting for prey for hours. The cat will not refuse any insects and even amphibians, it can eat frogs, lizards and snakes. A reed cat can get a hare, or even a small wild boar, if the opportunity presents itself. Hunts for a bird that lives on the water, catches fish. It is no coincidence that he dives and swims beautifully.

It is worth focusing on how interesting the cat is catching fish. He slowly slaps his paw on the surface of the water, creating the impression of a floundering insect, luring the fish. If she swims up, she immediately falls on the hook of deftly released sharp claws. To fish it out, the cat plunges its head right into the water.

The house goes hunting as soon as it starts to get dark. It guards prey and acts almost silently, it can overtake its prey with one graceful jump, which it skillfully and instantly strangles.

Among the villagers, the cat was known as a robber and a thief who invades chicken coops, steals chickens and other poultry, and can steal even a small pig. True, the reed cat does all this not so often, because. prefers not to approach close to human settlements. Basically, robberies happen in the cold winter and early spring, when it is hard to get food.

Character and lifestyle features

Photo: Jungle cat in the wild

Photo: Jungle cat in the wild

The reed cat likes to settle near various water bodies, having chosen their dense shrubs and reed thickets. He always behaves very carefully and quietly, trying not to make too much noise and acting like a real experienced spy. The animal tries to avoid open areas. The cat does not like to climb trees, although it has powerful paws and sharp claws.

Hunting for a reed cat is second nature, on it he behaves both boldly and very carefully so as not to frighten prey. The cat is most active at dusk, and during the day likes to rest in a thicket or a hole.

Excellent eyesight and keen hearing help the marsh lynx not only to successfully hunt, but also not to fall for ill-wishers. If a collision with the enemy is inevitable, the cat behaves courageously and aggressively, showing all its strength and power. An interesting feature of the reed cat is that it likes to dive into the water not only for the sake of hunting, but also in order to wash off its smell. This distinguishes it from domestic cats, which, on the contrary, like to leave it everywhere.

House likes to live alone in his territory, he acquires a family only for a short period of mating. The cat loves to have his own space, where he feels free and serene. The territory of such a habitat can occupy from 50 to 180 square meters. km. Another interesting quality of the reed cat is composure and patience. A cat can sit quietly for hours near the hole of its victim, showing incredible patience and endurance.

It is possible to domesticate a predator, but this is a very laborious task that requires great desire and diligence, because. the animal is very freedom-loving and independent, has a rather severe disposition. Even small kittens stubbornly hiss and snort, showing their rebellious and tough character from childhood. It is worth noting that a domesticated reed cat can recognize only one person as an owner, and the rest of the family will be treated with caution and even aggression.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Jungle Cat

Photo: Jungle Cat

Reed cats love to live in complete solitude, creating families only during the mating season, which usually occurs in February – March. At this time, the animals are very aggressive and formidable. Like ordinary cats, they emit a loud inviting meow and fight fierce battles for the possession of a female. After mating, the cat takes care of a cozy place where her lair will be located. Usually, it is located in the most impassable thicket of bushes. The female makes flooring from branches, reeds, found feathers, wool, so that the kittens are warm and comfortable.

Pregnancy lasts a little more than two months. Usually three to six babies are born. The litter is often dominated by males. The weight of newborn kittens is from 60 to 100 grams. At birth, they are completely blind, and their eyes open after about 10 days. Their color is much brighter, the pattern is more pronounced than in adults.

Mom carefully takes care of the babies, breastfeeding until the age of three months, although from two months she introduces other foods into the diet. The male also participates in upbringing and feeding, always being nearby. From the age of five months, the young growth shows its independence, and by eight months it becomes already sexually mature. In the wild, the life expectancy of a reed cat is 14 to 15 years. In captivity, they can live a little longer and breed quite well.

Natural enemies of jungle cats

Photo: Wild jungle cat

Photo: Wild reed cat

In nature, for a reed cat, a threat is posed by larger, in comparison with it, predatory animals. For example, a leopard often attacks them, regardless of the fact that they are also a cat breed. The main enemies are jackals, foxes and wolves. Usually the reed cat deftly and swiftly takes off from them, because their forces are not at all equal. To save himself, he can climb a tree using his sharp claws, and thus outwit the foxes and wolves. With the help of jumps, the cat can easily move from one tree to another in order to escape from larger predators.

One of the main dangers for the existence of this species of animals is the change in their places of permanent residence. This may be the disappearance of water bodies, the barbaric deforestation, poor environmental conditions, the development of wild cat habitats by people. The reed cat is of no interest to people engaged in hunting, its fur is not valued at all, it can be caught quite by accident.

But a person often exterminates reed cats because they attack poultry, stealing it right from the courtyard. There are no other reasons for capturing these animals, but they are enough to reduce the population. So, in Russia, the reed cat is listed in the Red Book.

Population and species status

Photo: Jungle cat in nature

Photo: Jungle cat in nature

The secretive and very cautious life style of jungle cats does not give full and distinct status information their population as a whole, therefore, a not entirely clear situation is created in this regard. It is fairly clear that its species is threatened with extinction in numerous territories of its permanent residence, especially in the southwestern and southeastern parts of Asia.

It is known that all reed cats are listed in the second appendix of CITES (special international convention on the trade and protection of endangered species of animals). In many Indian and Afghan states, they are prohibited from being destroyed and sold. The Caucasian subspecies living in Russia is listed in the Red Book. It can be found in the territories of Ossetia, Chechnya, Ingushetia, the Caspian coast, in the lower reaches of the Volga.

According to reliable information, it is known that the reed cat was last seen on the Caspian shores back in the eighties of the twentieth century, although old-timers claim that they are sometimes seen even now. Rare meetings of people with this wild cat more and more stubbornly prove the fact that this animal has sharply reduced the size of its population for various reasons and in many countries, including ours, is on the verge of extinction, which cannot be allowed.

Reed Cat Guard

Photo: Jungle cat in nature

Photo: Jungle cat

As already mentioned , a Caucasian species of reed cats living in the Russian Federation, is listed in the Red Book, the threat of its extinction is quite high. Based on the information presented in this book, we can say that there are only about 500 of these animals left in our country.

A large number of different factors led to such a deplorable state of the reed cat species:

  • poaching;
  • catching animals due to the death of poultry;
  • severe and cold climate;
  • drying of swamps;
  • lack of food;
  • larger predators (wolves, jackals, leopards);
  • poor ecology.

Hunting and destruction of the reed cat is prohibited in our country. In some zoos, it is kept for breeding purposes, which gives good results. In no case should this unique animal be allowed to completely disappear from the face of our planet.

In conclusion, I would like to add that the reed cat, of course, can be trained if you set this goal for yourself. But the nature of this graceful and dexterous predator will always strive for freedom. This proud beast prefers quiet impenetrable thickets to communication with a person. Therefore, do not interfere with him living in his natural feline kingdom, where he feels like a real master of the situation and is truly calm, peaceful and happy!

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