The Temminka cat, known as the “fire cat” in Thailand and Burma, and as the “stone cat” in parts of China, is a beautiful wild cat that is of medium size. They make up the second largest category of Asian cats. Their fur varies in color from cinnamon to various shades of brown, as well as gray and black (melanistic).
Species origin and description
Temmink the cat is very similar to the African golden cat, but they are unlikely to be closely related because the forests of Africa and Asia were not connected more than 20 million years ago. Their similarity is most likely an example of convergent evolution.
The Temminka cat is similar to the Borneo Bay cat in appearance and behavior. Genetic studies have shown that the two species are closely related. The Temminka cat is found in Sumatra and Malaysia, which was separated from Borneo only about 10,000-15,000 years ago. These observations have led to the belief that the Borneo Bay cat is an island subspecies of the Temmink cat.
Video: Temmink cat
Genetic analysis has shown that the Temminka cat, along with the Borneo Bay cat and the marbled cat, diverged from other felines about 9.4 million years ago, and that the Temminka cat and the Borneo Bay cat diverged as much as four million years ago, suggesting that the latter was a different species long before the isolation of Borneo.
Because of its apparent close relationship with the marbled cat, it is called Seua fai (“fire tiger”) in some regions of Thailand. According to regional legend, burning the fur of the Temmink cat drives away the tigers. It is believed that eating meat has the same effect. The Karenians believe that it is enough to carry only one cat's hair with them. Many indigenous people consider the cat ferocious, but it is known that in captivity it was obedient and calm.
In China, the Temminka cat is considered a kind of leopard and is known as the “stone cat” or “yellow leopard”. Different color phases have different names: cats with black fur are called “ink leopards” and cats with spotted coats are called “sesame leopards”.
Fun fact: The cat was named after a Dutch zoologist Koenraad Jacob Temminck, who first described the African golden cat in 1827.
Appearance and Features
Cat Temminka is a medium-sized cat with relatively long legs. It is similar in appearance to the African golden cat (Caracal aurata), however recent genetic analyzes show that it is more closely related to the Borneo Gulf cat (Catopuma badia) and the marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata).
There are two subspecies of the Temminckii cat:
- catopuma temminckii temminckii in Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula;
- catopuma temminckii moormensis from Nepal to Northern Myanmar, China, Tibet and South East Asia.
The Temminka cat is surprisingly polymorphic in its coloration. The most common coat color — golden or red-brown, but it can also be dark brown or even gray. Melanistic individuals have been recorded and may be predominant in some areas of its range.
There is also a spotted form called the “ocelot morph” because of its rosettes similar to those of the ocelot. To date, this form has been reported from China (in Sichuan and Tibet) and from Bhutan. The most distinctive features of this cat — white lines bordering dark brown to black running across the cheeks, from the nostrils to the cheeks, at the inner corner of the eyes and up the top of the head. The rounded ears have black backs with a gray patch. The chest, abdomen and inner side of the legs are white with light speckles. The legs and tail are gray to black at the distal ends. The terminal half of the tail is white on the underside and often carries the tip curled up. Males are larger than females.
Where does the Temminka cat live?
The distribution of the Temminck cat is similar to that of the mainland clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), the Sund clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) and the marbled cat. It prefers tropical and subtropical moist evergreen forests, mixed evergreen forests and dry deciduous forests. It is found in the foothills of the Himalayas in China and Southeast Asia. It also lives in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. The Temminka cat is not found in Borneo.
In India, it has only been recorded in the northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Occasionally, more open habitats have been reported, such as scrub and grasslands, or open rocky areas. This species has also been discovered using camera traps located on or near oil palm and coffee plantations in Sumatra.
Fun fact: While Temminck cats can climb well, they spend a lot of part of the time on the ground, keeping the long tail curled at the tip.
The Temminka cat is often recorded at relatively high altitudes. It has been seen at altitudes up to 3050 m in Sikkim, India, and in the Jigme Sigye Wangchuck National Park in Bhutan at 3738 m in an area of dwarf rhododendrons and meadows. Altitude record — 3960 m where the Temminka cat was discovered in the Hangchendzong Biosphere Reserve, Sikkim, India. However, in some areas it is more common in lowland forests.
In the Kerinci Seblat National Park in Sumatra, it has only been recorded by camera traps at low altitudes. In the mountainous forests of India's western province of Arunachal Pradesh, Temminka's cat has not been captured by camera traps, despite the appearance of marbled cats and clouded leopards.
Now you know where the wild cat Temminika is found. Let's see what this golden Asian cat eats.
What does the Temminka cat eat?
Like most cats their size, Temminka cats — carnivorous, they often eat small prey such as Indochinese ground squirrel, small snakes and other amphibians, rodents and young hares. In Sikkim, India, in the mountains, they also hunt larger animals such as wild pigs, water buffalo and sambar deer. Where humans are present, they also prey on domesticated sheep and goats.
Temminka the cat — primarily a terrestrial hunter, although locals claim she is also a skilled climber. It is believed that the Temminka cat preys mainly on large rodents. However, it has also been known to prey on reptiles, small amphibians, insects, birds, poultry, and small ungulates such as muntjacs and chevrotains.
Temminck cats have been reported to prey on larger animals such as:
- gorals in the mountains of Sikkim, India;
- wild pigs and sambar in Northern Vietnam;
- young domestic buffalo calves.
An analysis of stingrays in Taman Negara National Park in Peninsular Malaysia has shown that cats also prey on species such as dusky monkey and mouse. In Sumatra, there have been reports from locals that Temminck cats sometimes prey on the bird.
In captivity, Temminck cats are fed a less varied diet. They were given animals with a fat content of less than 10%, because with a large amount of fat in animals vomiting is caused. Their food is also fortified with aluminum carbonate and multivitamins. “Dead Whole Foods” that were introduced to animals — these are chicken, rabbits, guinea pig, rats and mice. In zoos, Temminka cats receive from 800 to 1500 kg of food per day.
Character and lifestyle features
Little is known about the behavior of the Temminck cat. It was once thought to be predominantly nocturnal, but recent evidence suggests that the cat may be more crepuscular or diurnal. Two radio-collared Temminck cats in Thailand's Phu Khieu National Park showed mostly diurnal and twilight activity peaks. In addition, during the day most of the photographs were taken with Temminck cats in the Kerinchi Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Parks in Sumatra.
The range of two Temminck radar cats in Thailand in Phu Khieu National Park was 33 km² (female ) and 48 km² (male) and overlapped considerably. In Sumatra, a radio-collared female spent much of her time outside a protected area in small patches of remnant forest nestled among coffee plantations.
Fun Fact: The vocalizations of Temminck cats include hissing, spitting, meowing, purring, growling, and gurgling. Other communication methods observed in captive Temminck cats include scent marking, urine spraying, talon raking of trees and logs, and head rubbing against various objects, very similar to the behavior of a domestic cat.
Social structure and reproduction
Not much is known about the reproductive behavior of this rather elusive cat in the wild. Much of what is known has been recovered from cats in captivity. Female Temminka cats are sexually mature between 18 and 24 months, and male — at the age of 24 months. Females enter oestrus every 39 days, after which they leave marks and seek contact with the male by assuming receptive postures. During intercourse, the male will grab the neck of the female with his teeth.
After a gestation period of 78 to 80 days, the female gives birth to a litter of one to three kittens in a protected area. Kittens weigh between 220 and 250 grams at birth, but triple that during the first eight weeks of life. They are born with their adult coat pattern and open their eyes after six to twelve days. In captivity, they live up to twenty years.
Temminka's cat at the Washington Park Zoo (now the Oregon Zoo) showed a dramatic increase in the frequency of smells during estrus. At the same time, she often rubbed her neck and head with inanimate objects. She also repeatedly approached the male in the cage, rubbed him and assumed a perceiving position (lordosis) in front of him. During this time, the rate of smell increased in the male, as well as the frequency of his approaching and following the female. The male's surface behavior included biting the back of the head, but unlike other small felines, the bite was not sustained.
A couple at the Washington Park Zoo produced 10 litters, each consisting of one kitten; two litters of the same kitten, each born at the Wassenaar Zoo in the Netherlands, one kitten was registered from the other litter. Two litters of two kittens were born at a private cat breeding facility in California, but none of them survived.
Natural enemies of Temmink cats
There is a general lack of information about Temminka cat populations and status, as well as a low level of public awareness. However, the main threat to the Temminck cat appears to be habitat loss and change due to deforestation in tropical and subtropical forests. The forests of Southeast Asia are experiencing the world's highest rates of deforestation in the region, thanks to the expansion of oil palm, coffee, acacia and rubber plantations.
The Temmink cat is also threatened by hunting for its skin and bones, which are used in traditional medicine, as well as meat, which is considered a delicacy in some areas. In some regions, people believe that consumption of Temminka cat meat increases strength and energy. Species poaching is believed to be increasing in many areas.
Trade in cat furs has been observed along the border between Myanmar and Thailand and in Sumatra, as well as in areas in northeast India. In southern China, Temminck cats have become increasingly sought after for this purpose, as the massive decline in tiger and leopard populations has shifted the focus to smaller felines. The locals follow Temminck's cats and set traps or use hunting dogs to find and corner them.
The species is also threatened by indiscriminate fishing and prey decline due to high hunting pressure. The locals follow the tracks of the golden cats and set traps or use hunting dogs to find and corner the Asian golden cat. The species is also threatened by indiscriminate fishing and prey decline due to high hunting pressure. The locals follow the tracks of the golden cats and set traps or use hunting dogs to find and corner the Asian golden cat.
A golden Asian cat is also killed in retaliation for the destruction of livestock. A study in villages around the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Sumatra found that the Temminka cat sometimes preyed on poultry and was often persecuted as a result.
Population and view status
The Temminka cat is listed as critically endangered, but there is little specific information available on the species available and therefore its population status is largely unknown. In some areas of its range, this seems relatively uncommon. This cat was rarely reported in southern China, and the Temminka cat was thought to be rarer than the clouded leopard and leopard cat in the region.
The Temminka cat is found infrequently in eastern Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The last record from Vietnam dates back to 2005, and in the Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi and Jiangxi, during an extensive survey, the species was found only three times. However, in other areas it seems to be one of the more common small felines. Studies in Laos, Thailand, and Sumatra have shown that the Temminka cat is more common than sympatric felines such as the marbled cat and the mainland clouded leopard. The distribution of the species is limited and patchy in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. In Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, it is more widely distributed. In general, the number of Temmink cats is believed to be declining throughout their range due to significant habitat loss and continued illegal poaching.
Temmink Cat Conservation
The Temminka cat is listed in the Red Book and also listed in Appendix I of CITES and is fully protected in most of its range. Hunting is officially banned in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam and regulated in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Outside of protected areas in Bhutan, there is no legal protection for Temminka cats.
Due to hunting and poaching of cats, Temminka continues to decline. Despite their protection, there is still a trade in the skins and bones of these cats. Stronger regulation and enforcement of national and international laws is required. Habitat conservation and the creation of habitat corridors are also important in protecting the species.
They are not yet considered endangered, but are very close to it. Some Temmink cats live in captivity. They don't seem to thrive in such an environment, which is why they are often left in the wild. Efforts to save their natural environment are also very important. The faith of the people in Thailand can also make conservation difficult. They believe that by burning the fur of the Temmink cat or consuming its meat, they will be able to fence themselves off from the tigers.
Temmink the Cat — This is a wild cat living in Asia and Africa. Unfortunately, their population is classified as endangered or vulnerable. They are about two to three times the size of a domestic cat. Although their fur is usually golden or red-brown, their fur comes in a surprising variety of colors and patterns.