A medium-sized feline, Jungle Cat is believed to be the largest of the existing Felis genus wild cats. Distributed over a wide area extending from North Africa to Southeast Asia, the Jungle Cat is one of the most adaptable and versatile cats. Contrary to what its name suggests, the Jungle Cat is seldom seen in dense tropical rain forests - existing more on forest and river margins and marshy areas. A large, slender cat it resembles a Serval in its physique with a weight ranging from ten to thirty five pounds, height at shoulders around fourteen inches and length nearing two and a half to three feet - though considerably bigger Jungle Cats have been recorded in the wild.
Color is uniform and quite similar to the domestic Abyssinian cats, varying across the cat's distribution, from a sandy gray to reddish. Legs are long and are often marked by some brown stripes. Tail is short, black-tipped and often ringed. Nose and chin are usually white and ears are large with dark tufts on the top like those of a lynx - giving rise to their common name 'Swamp Lynx'.
Felis Chaus, the Jungle Cat seems to have been bred of its ancestor African wild cat in ancient Egypt for the purpose of hunting wild fowl - afterwards it was mummified and entombed there. Primarily a predator of small mammals, fish, birds, rodents and snakes - the cat has been known to take down deer fawns and wild pigs. Hunting mostly in daytime, Jungle Cat has been known to swim and attack aquatic animals.
Often seen in groups, the Jungle Cat is perhaps the only feline where both male and female come together to actively partake in the rearing of the young. Kittens are born after a gestational period of around sixty five days with a large litter of up to six babies often recorded. They have a number of stripes to camouflage them in their infancy that disappear as they age. Males, the larger of the species, are even more protective of the young than the females and emit loud barking sounds as part of their vocalization. The kittens are weaned off at three months and begin hunting at six months. Independence is reached at ten months and sexual maturity is gained at around eighteen months of age. Mating is believed to occur twice an year.
Several subspecies of the Jungle Cat are recorded, in accordance with its distribution in the wild:
Felis Chaus Chaus (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Jordan, Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan)
Felis Chaus Affinis (Kashmir, Sikkim and Indochina)
Felis Chaus Fulvidina (Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam)
Felis Chaus Furax (Syria and Iraq)
Felis Chaus Kelaarti (Sri Lanka)
Felis Chaus Kutas (Pakistan, western India)
Felis Chaus Nilotica (Nile Valley Egypt)
Felis Chaus Prateri (Pakistan, western India)
Felis Chaus Oxiana (Russia)
Despite having a large distribution in the wild, the Jungle Cat, also known as Reed Cat, is now being considered to be under threat owing to widespread hunting for its fur. It is estimated that as many as twelve adult jungle cats are killed to make one fur coat. It also comes in conflict with farmers over occasional consumption of domestic poultry. Many sport hunters don't hesitate to poison this beautiful cat since it preys upon the small mammals they like to hunt!