Wild Cat Species and Distribution
The 36 species of the wild cat family are spread across most of the globe excluding the continents of Antarctica and Australia and some island groups.
Many species are to be found in similar habitats straddling several continents such as the Leopard which ranges from the southern tip of Africa, across Asia to China and various the species of Wildcat, which can be found in Europe, Africa, the Middle east and Asia.
The majority of species however, are indigenous to only one continent. The great natural barrier of the Atlantic Ocean also serves to divide the 'New World' species from the 'Old World' - with the exception of the Lynx, which can be found as distinct sub-species in both North America and Eurasia.
In attempting to classify the worlds species of wild cat, modern day research is uncovering interesting facts regarding the relationship between individual species separated today by continents and oceans. In distant history the world map of wild cat distribution looked vastly different. A similarity in appearance between the New World Jaguar and the Leopard can be explained by a common ancestry - it is now thought that jaguars evolved in Asia and spread across to the Americas via the northern land bridge between the two continents. In a similar way, ancient species of lion and cheetah once roamed the New World continents.
- use a world map to view the species distribution
Find the species by their continental distribution
Europe & Middle East