This week I have decided to highlight a very interesting cat. It's intriguing to me because very little is known about him. As a matter of fact, scientists are not sure about this cat's behavior or it's populations. Why? Because it is the least studied of all the wild cats. So first, let’s look at some of the information that we do know. This is a beautiful animal, and the more we know about it, the more we can do to insure its survival.
The Asiatic Golden Cat is a solitary animal. It is found in Nepal, northeast India, through Southeast Asia, China, Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra.
Although it was originally believed to be nocturnal, it has been discovered that the Asiatic Golden Cat is crepuscular as well as diurnal. We have seen these three words before, but let’s go over them again. Nocturnal means the animal is active at night. Crepuscular refers to low light, and it means that the cat is active during twilight hours. Diurnal means daytime, so the Asiatic Golden Cat is active during the day. Basically this magnificent cat is active from dawn to dusk. However, I have read that scientists have been able to obtain pictures of this cat at night. Confused? So was I. I think that this only goes to prove just how little we know about the Asiatic Golden Cat. No one can say for certain when the cat is most active. In the video I've posted for you below, you will see the cat at night and during the day.
The Asiatic Golden Cat hunts small animals on the ground. Deer, hares, birds and reptiles make up their dinner menu. Although they hunt on the ground, this cat can also climb trees when it feels threatened.
There is confusion as to the extent of this cat’s population. There is some conviction among researchers that their numbers are decreasing. The research is ongoing and no one seems to be able to provide firm population data. Currently, there are less than a dozen or so cats in zoos, and there are only a handful of breeding females.
Major threats to the Asiatic Golden Cat include hunting for their pelt and bones. Also, their meat is considered a delicacy among local tribes who believe that eating this cat will make them strong.
They are about the size of a medium dog –35 pounds. Their coat is unusual. Typically their fur is unmarked in the southerly range, but in the higher range they can exhibit strips and spots. As with most cats, their underside is white. They have black and white bands running across their cheeks, and they have rounded ears. Their eyes are typically greyish green or amber.
There is a legend surrounding this case in Myanmar and Thailand. The cat is known there as a ‘fire cat’ and the legend says that a person who carries one hair of the cat will have protection from tigers and if the bearer of a pelt, or skin, burns it, they will be able to drive tigers away. I guess that would come in handy if you're in the jungles of Thailand!
The IUCN* has listed the Asiatic Golden Cat as ‘near threatened.’ However, as I said above, information about the cat is scarce and this evaluation is still being researched.
I have found a wonderful video for you. This video talks about the African Golden Cat which is another species of the Asiatic Golden cat. It contains some great footage and wonderful information to go along with it. I hope you are on my web site so that you can enjoy it fully. The African Golden Cat, is a similar species of the Asiatic Golden Cat. The African and Asiatic Golden Cats are very similar in size and appearance.
If you would like to read a bit more about this beautiful, and elusive cat, click on the below links.
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Before I say good-bye, I wanted to introduce you to another cat. This is a golden cat too, but it is not living in Thailand or Sumatra. It lives in Danbury, Connecticut, with me and my family. His name is Mickey and he is a Maine Coon. This particular breed of cat gets quite large. Mickey, unlike other breeds of cat will continue growing for three years. Most breeds stop after one year. We expect that he will be about 20 pounds when he is fully grown (maybe more!). That's bigger than a miniature poodle. Giggle! Giggle! In the one picture, my daughter is holding him and is just seven months old and weighs 10 pounds. He'll be a big boy.
So much fun talking to you all! Please come back next week.
J.E. Rogers, Author
The Sword of Demelza, A Middle Grade Fantasy