Asian golden cats, Catopuma temminckii, can be found in the Oriental region and parts of the Palearctic region of southwestern Asia, ranging from China and India through the Malay peninsula, Thailand, and Vietnam (Wilting et.al 2010). Although vegetation and high variation of habitat should allow this species to thrive, their range has been limited by expansion rates of humans and poachers (Brockhlehurst). Asian golden cats are now also found in wildlife sanctuaries, Phu khieo (Grassman et al. 2005) and the Jerangau Forest Reserve (Azlan and Sharma 2005).
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native )
The map shows range within forest cover (European Commission, Joint Research Centre, 2003) to reflect patchiness caused by deforestation upon recommendation of the assessors (IUCN Cats Red List workshop 2007).
Nepal, China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia (Sumatra)
Asian golden cats are moderate sized felids with a head and body length of 116 to 161 cm. Their tail is one half to a third of their size ("Asian Golden Cat" 2001). They generally weigh 12 to 15 kg. Individuals of a variety of coat colors have been reported, including gold brown, brown, black, fox red, and gray. Gray individuals are often referred to as "fire cats." Asian golden cats have white lines with black borders that run vertically from the top of the head to the medial side of the eye and downwards across the neck. Their coat hairs are moderate in length. The underbelly, inner legs, and the underside of the tail are white. They have a muscular build and long legs, which, in addition to their long tails, make them excellent tree climbers, although Asian golden cats tend to dwell on the ground. An adult male and adult female in the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary were measured. The male weighed 13.5 kg, and measured 91 cm in length from head to body. The male's tail was 41 cm in length, its right hind food 18 cm, its ear 5.5 cm, and upper right canine 16mm in length. The female weighed 7.9 kg, and measured 77 cm in length from head to body. The female's tail was 39.5 cm in length, its right hind food 15.5 cm, and upper right canine 13mm in length (Grassman et al. 2005). Females Asian golden cats are smaller than males.
Range mass: 12 to 15 kg.
Range length: 116 to 161 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Asian golden cats are primarily found in forests ranging from tropical/subtropical evergreen forests, mixed and dry deciduous forests and tropical rain forests (Brocklehurst; Wilting et.al 2010). They are found at elevations of 1,100 to 3,738 m (average 2,517 m). The Pho Khieo Wild Life Sanctuary in Thailand is considered ideal habitat for Asian golden cats, consisting of closed forest, grassland, and an abandoned orchard. Radio-collared individuals in the sanctuary were recorded at elevations 3,738 m, the highest elevation recorded for this species (Grassman et. Al 2005). Although habitats are variable within the sanctuary, Asian golden cats did not show a preference for any particular kind of habitat.
Range elevation: 1,100 to 3,738 m.
Average elevation: 2,517 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest
Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams; temporary pools
Habitat and Ecology
Activity readings from two radio-collared golden cats in Thailands's Phu Khieu National Park showed daytime and crepuscular activity peaks (Grassman et al. 2005). Forty-seven per cent of 15 camera trap records in Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park were in daytime (Holden 2001). This suggests that the species is not primarily nocturnal, as thought previously.
An adult female Asiatic Golden Cat in Thailand's Phu Khieu National Park had a home range of 32.6 km², overlapped 78% by a male whose home range was 47.7 km². Golden Cat home ranges were larger than clouded leopard home ranges, although they were similar in activity and mean daily distance moved (Grassman et al. 2005).
One confirmed scat contained the remains of Indochinese ground squirrel (Grassman et al. 2005). Scats from Sumatra contained rat and muntjac remains, and the stomach contents of a carcass in Thailand's Kaeng Krachan National Park included the remains of a small snake (Grassman 1998).
While the reddish-gold pelage the cat is named for is the most common form, there are also are spotted (Wang 2007) and melanistic morphs (Holden 2001, Grassman et al. 2005).
Asian golden cats have opportunistic eating habits. They often consume small prey such as Indochinese ground squirrel, muntjacs, and small snakes (Grassman et al. 2005; Wilting et al 2010). They also eat rodents, birds, reptiles, and young hares ("Asian Golden Cat" 2001). In the goral mountains of Sikkim, India, Asian golden cats are reported to hunt larger animals such as wild pig, sambar deer, and water buffalo calves. In areas of human presence, they also prey on domesticated poultry, sheep, and goats.
In captivity, Asian golden cats are fed a diet of less variety. They were given animals with less than 10% body fat, because animals with more fat cause them to vomit. Their food is also enhanced with alcium carbonate and multivitamin supplements. The “dead whole food items” that the animals were presented with are chicken, rabbits, guinea pig, rats, and mice. In zoos, Asian golden cats receive 800 to 1500 kg of food per day (Brocklehurst 2007).
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)
Asian golden cats are important predators in forests, preying on a variety of animals.
There are no known predators of Asian golden cats other than humans.
- humans Homo sapiens
Life History and Behavior
Little information is available regarding the communication and perception of Asian golden cats. Like most cats, they probably use scent cues extensively in communication.
Communication Channels: visual ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Asian golden cats have been reported to live 18 to 23 years and are expected to survive 20 years in captivity.
Status: captivity: 18 to 23 years.
Status: captivity: 20 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
The mating systems of Asian golden cats are relatively unknown, as they are difficult to observe in the wild. Wild individuals tend to be afraid of humans, and the mating process has not been observed. The Cincinnati zoo, Heidelberg zoo, Munster zoo, and Wassenaar zoo have attempted to breed Asian golden cats and collectively have a 78% success rate. Zoos use a careful program to ensure reproductive success. Males are introduced to females over a 2-month period, allowing the female to become familiarized with the male and lowering the chance of fatalities. Many zoos experience fatalities between males and females during introduction. Males are kept in a separate area and are allowed visual, olfactory, and auditory contact. To ensure less aggression, higher amounts of food are added to each cage. After two months, the male and female are allowed short periods of contact together. If no aggression is observed, the time of contact is gradually increased. The male and female stay together for 70 days, during which they copulate. If the female has not given birth after 90 days, the male is reintroduced at a time when the female is in estrus again.
Estrus in female Asian golden cats lasts 6 days, and the cycle repeats every 39 days. Gestation lasts 81 days. Females give birth to 1 to 3 cubs, which weigh an average of 250 g at birth. In the wild, some females were observed giving birth in hollow trees. Cubs are weaned at 6 months and reach independence in on average 12 months, though they may reach independence in as little as 9 months. Females reach sexual maturity in 19 to 174 months and males in 24 to 156 months. Asian golden cats are difficult to observe in the wild. Zoos attempt to breed this species, which reveals further information regarding their mating behavior and systems. There does not appear to be a breeding season for this species, but they do not give birth during April, May, or June.
Breeding season: Asian golden cats breed year round.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 3.
Average gestation period: 81 days.
Average weaning age: 6 months.
Range time to independence: 9 (low) months.
Average time to independence: 12 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 19 to 174 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 24 to 156 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 250 g.
Average gestation period: 95 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Little information is available on parental investment of Asian golden cats. In zoos, cubs are removed from their mother around 9 to 12 months, although weaning generally occurs at 6 months. This may suggest post-weaning care by mothers. In zoos, the father has no association with their young, which may also be indicative of care in the wild.
Parental Investment: female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pardofelis temminckii
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
Asian golden cats are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List, endangered on the US Federal list, and on Appendix I by CITES. Populations are decreasing, in part due to habitat destruction from logging and agriculture. In addition to habitat loss, they also face poachers, although it is illegal to kill Asian golden cats. Their coats are sold on the black market, and their meat is considered a delicacy. The myth that carrying their hair or burning their pelt wards away tigers also contributes to their decline. Some Asian golden cats now inhabit wildlife sanctuaries, and some zoos are breeding these cats in captivity.
US Federal List: endangered
CITES: appendix i
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Indeterminate(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Indeterminate(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Indeterminate(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Indeterminate(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
Date Listed: 06/14/1976
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: Entire
Population location: Entire
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Catopuma temminckii, see its USFWS Species Profile
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Asian golden cats have been known to prey on domesticated livestock, such as poultry, sheep, and goats.
Negative Impacts: crop pest
The meat of Asian golden cats is considered a delicacy, and their bones are used for medicinal purposes. Their pelt is also traded, though illegal. In local superstition, it is believed that carrying a piece of their hair or burning the pelt of Asian golden cats drives tigers away.
Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; source of medicine or drug
Asian golden cat
The Asian golden cat (Pardofelis temminckii, syn. Catopuma temminckii), also called the Asiatic golden cat and Temminck's cat, is a medium-sized wild cat of Southeastern Asia. In 2008, the IUCN classified Asian golden cats as Near Threatened, stating that the species comes close to qualifying as Vulnerable due to hunting pressure and habitat loss, since Southeast Asian forests are undergoing the world's fastest regional deforestation.
The Asian golden cat is heavily built, with a typical cat-like appearance. It has a head-body length of 66 to 105 cm (26 to 41 in), with a tail 40 to 57 cm (16 to 22 in) long, and is 56 cm (22 in) tall at the shoulder. The weight ranges from 9 to 16 kg (20 to 35 lb), which is about two or three times that of a domestic cat.
The pelage is uniform in color, but highly variable, ranging from red to golden-brown, dark brown to pale cinnamon, and gray to black. Transitional forms among the different colorations also exist. It may be marked with spots and stripes. White and black lines run across the cheeks and up to the top of the head, while the ears are black with a central gray area. Golden cats with leopard-like spots have been found in China, resembling large leopard cats. This spotted fur is a recessive characteristic.
Distribution and habitat
Asian golden cats live throughout Southeast Asia, ranging from Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh to Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Southern China, Malaysia and Sumatra. They prefer forest habitats interspersed with rocky areas and are found in dry deciduous, subtropical evergreen and tropical rainforests. Sometimes, they are found in more open terrain such as the grasslands of Assam's Manas National Park. In altitude, they range from the lowlands to over 3,000 m (9,800 ft) in the Himalayas.
In Laos, they also inhabit bamboo regrowth, scrub and degraded forest from the Mekong plains to at least 1,100 m (3,600 ft). Surveys in Sumatra and in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area in northern Laos indicated that they are more common than sympatric small cats, suggesting that they are more numerous than previously believed. Surveys in Thailand, northern Myanmar and India's western Arunachal Pradesh revealed fewer individuals.
In Bhutan's Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, they were recorded by camera traps at an altitude of 3,738 m (12,264 ft). In Sikkim's Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, they were photo-trapped at elevations up to 3,960 m (12,990 ft).
Since Hodgson's description in 1831 of a male individual in Nepal under the binomial Felis moormensis, the country is believed to be the westernmost part of the felid's range. However, no specimen has been recorded in the country, until in May 2009 a camera trap survey yielded the first photographic record of a melanistic Asian golden cat in Makalu Barun National Park at an altitude of 2,517 m (8,258 ft).
Three subspecies have been recognized:
- Pardofelis temminckii temminckii found in the Himalayas, Southeast Asian mainland and Sumatra
- Pardofelis temminckii dominicanorum found in southeast China
- Pardofelis temminckii tristis found in southwest China
Ecology and behavior
Asian golden cats are territorial and solitary. Previous observations suggested that they are primarily nocturnal, but a field study on two radio-collared specimens revealed arrhythmic activity patterns dominated by crepuscular and diurnal activity peaks, with much less activity late at night. In the study, the male's territory was 47.7 km2 (18.4 sq mi) in size and increased by more than 15% during the rainy season. The female's territory was 32.6 square kilometres (12.6 sq mi) in size. Both cats traveled between only 55 metres (180 ft) to more than 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) in a day and were more active in July than in March.
Asian golden cats can climb trees when necessary. They hunt birds, hares, rodents and reptiles, small ungulates such as muntjacs and young sambar deer. They are capable of bringing down prey much larger than themselves, such as domestic water buffalo calves. In the mountains of Sikkim, they reportedly prey on ghoral.
In captivity, Asian golden cats kill small prey with a nape bite, as is typical of felids. They also pluck birds larger than pigeons before beginning to feed. Their vocalizations include hissing, spitting, meowing, purring, growling, and gurgling. Other methods of communication observed in captive Asian golden cats include scent marking, urine spraying, raking trees and logs with claws, and rubbing of the head against various objects, much like a domestic cat.
Not much is known about the reproductive behavior of this rather elusive cat in the wild. Most of what is known has been learned from cats in captivity. Female Asian golden cats are sexually mature between 18 and 24 months, while males mature at 24 months. Females come into estrus every 39 days, at which time they leave markings and seek contact with the male by adopting receptive postures. During intercourse, the male will seize the skin of 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 sheltered place. The kittens weigh 220 to 250 grams (7.8 to 8.8 oz) at birth, but triple in size over the first eight weeks of life. They are born already possessing the adult coat pattern and open their eyes after six to twelve days. In captivity, they live for up to twenty years.
A female Asian golden cat at the Washington Park Zoo (now the Oregon Zoo) showed a dramatic increase in the frequency of scent marking during estrus. At the same time, she often rubbed her neck and head on inanimate objects. She also repeatedly approached the male in the cage, rubbed on him, and adopted a receptive posture (lordosis) in front of him. The male's rate of scent marking increased during this time, as did his frequency of approaching and following the female. The male's mounting behavior included a nape bite, but in contrast to other small felids, the bite was not sustained.
A pair in the Washington Park Zoo produced 10 litters, each consisting of one kitten; two litters of a single kitten each were born at the Wassenaar Zoo in the Netherlands; and a single kitten was reported for another litter. Two litters of two kittens each were born at a private cat breeding facility in California, but neither litter survived.
Asian golden cats inhabit some of the fastest developing countries in the world, where they are increasingly threatened by habitat destruction following deforestation, along with a declining ungulate prey base. Another serious threat is hunting for the illegal wildlife trade, which has the greatest potential to do maximum harm in minimal time. It has been reported killed in revenge for depredating livestock, including poultry but also larger animals such as sheep, goats and buffalo calves.
Illegal wildlife trade
Asian golden cats are poached mainly for their fur. In Myanmar, 111 body parts from at least 110 individuals were observed in four markets surveyed between 1991 and 2006. Numbers were significantly greater than those of non-threatened species. Among the observed skins was a specimen with ocelot-like rosettes — a rare tristis form. Three of the surveyed markets are situated on international borders with China and Thailand and cater to international buyers, although the Asian golden cat is completely protected under Myanmar's national legislation. Effective implementation and enforcement of CITES is considered inadequate.
Pardofelis temminckii is included in CITES Appendix I and fully protected over most of its range. Hunting is prohibited in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. Hunting is regulated in Laos. No information about protection status is available from Cambodia. In Bhutan, the felid is protected only within the boundaries of protected areas.
The population size of the Asian golden cat is unknown and difficult to estimate. It was regarded as abundant in many countries until the later part of the last century, when poaching shifted away from tigers and leopards to this species. In China, it is reported to be the next rarest cat apart from tigers and leopards.
As of December 2008, there were 20 Asian golden cats in eight European zoos participating in the European Endangered Species Programme. The pair in the German Wuppertal Zoo successfully bred in 2007, and in July 2008, two siblings were born and mother-reared. In 2008, a female kitten was also born in the French Parc des Félins. The species is also kept in the Singapore Zoo. Apart from these, a few zoos in Southeast Asia and Australia also keep Asian golden cats.
The Asian golden cat bears a great resemblance to the African golden cat, but it is unlikely that they are closely related because the forests of Africa and Asia have not been connected in over 20 million years. Their similarity is more likely an example of convergent evolution.
The Asian golden cat is similar to the bay cat of Borneo in both appearance and behavior. Genetic studies revealed that the two species are closely related. The Asian golden cat is found in Sumatra and Malaysia, which separated from Borneo only about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. These observations led to the belief that the Borneo bay cat is an insular subspecies of the Asian golden cat. Genetic analysis has shown that the Asian golden cat, along with the bay cat and the marbled cat, diverged from the other felids about 9.4 million years ago, and that the Asian golden cat and bay cat diverged as long as four million years ago, suggesting that the bay cat was a different species long before the isolation of Borneo. Because of the evident close relationship with the marbled cat, it has recently been suggested that all three species should be grouped in the genus Pardofelis.
In some regions of Thailand, the Asian golden cat is called Seua fai ("fire tiger"). According to a regional legend, the burning of an Asian golden cat's fur drives tigers away. Eating the flesh is believed to have the same effect. The Karen people believe that simply carrying a single hair of the cat is sufficient. Many indigenous people believe the cat to be fierce, but in captivity it has been known to be docile and tranquil.
In China, the Asian golden cat is thought to be a kind of leopard and is known as "rock cat" or "yellow leopard". Different color phases have different names; those with black fur are called "inky leopards", and those with spotted coats are called "sesame leopards".
- Sanderson, J., Mukherjee, S., Wilting, A., Sunarto, S., Hearn, A., Ross, J., Khan, J.A. (2008). "Pardofelis temminckii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- Sunquist, Mel; Sunquist, Fiona (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 52–56. ISBN 0-226-77999-8.
- Pocock, R.I. (1939). The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. Taylor and Francis, Ltd., London. Pp 259–264
- Allen, G.M. (1938). The mammals of China and Mongolia. New York: American Museum of Natural History.
- Nowell, K., Jackson, P. (1996). 'Wild Cats: status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.
- Choudhury, A. (2007). Sighting of Asiatic golden cat in the grasslands of Assam's Manas National Park. Cat News 47: 29.
- Baral H.S. and Shah K.B. (2008). Wild Mammals of Nepal. Himalayan Nature, Kathmandu.
- Duckworth, J. W., Salter, R. E. and Khounboline, K. (compilers) (1999). Wildlife in Lao PDR: 1999 Status Report. Vientiane: IUCN – The World Conservation Union / Wildlife Conservation Society / Centre for Protected Areas and Watershed Management.
- Holden, J. (2001). Small cats in Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia. Cat News 35: 11–14.
- Johnson, A., Vongkhamheng, C., Saithongdam, T. (2009). The diversity, status and conservation of small carnivores in a montane tropical forest in northern Laos. Oryx 43: 626–633 doi:10.1017/S0030605309990238
- Lynam, A. J., Round, P. and Brockelman, W. Y. (2006). Status of birds and large mammals of the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, Thailand. Biodiversity Research and Training Program and Wildlife Conservation Society, Bangkok, Thailand.
- Rao, M., Myint, T., Zaw, T., Htun, S. (2005). Hunting patterns in tropical forests adjoining the Hkakaborazi National Park, north Myanmar. Oryx 39(3): 292.
- Mishra, C., Madhusudan, M. D., Datta, A. (2006). Mammals of the high altitudes of western Arunachal Pradesh, eastern Himalaya: An assessment of threats and conservation needs. Oryx 40: 29–35.
- Wang, S. W. (2007). A rare morph of the Asiatic golden cat in Bhutan's Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Cat News 47: 27–28.
- Bashir, T., Bhattacharya, T., Poudyal, K. and Sathyakumar, S. (2011). Notable observations on the melanistic Asiatic Golden cat (Pardofelis temminckii) of Sikkim, India. NeBIO 2 (1): 2–4.
- Hodgson, B. H. (1831). Some Account of a new Species of Felis. Gleanings in Science, Volume III. Calcutta 1832: 177–178.
- Ellerman J. R. and Morrison-Scott T. C. S. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946. London.
- Ghimirey, Y., Pal, P. (2009). First camera trap image of Asiatic golden cat in Nepal. Cat News 51: 17
- Grubb, P. (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Grassman Jr., L. I., Tewes, M. E., Silvy, N. J., Kreetiyutanont, K. (2005). Ecology of three sympatric felids in a mixed evergreen forest in North-central Thailand. Journal of Mammalogy 86: 29–38
- Tun Yin (1967) Wild animals of Burma. Rangoon Gazette Ltd, Rangoon.
- Biswas, B. and Ghose, R.K. (1982). Progress report 1 on pilot survey of the WWF-India/Zoological Survey of India collaborative project on the status survey of the lesser cats in eastern India. Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta.
- Jones, M.L. (1977). Record keeping and longevity of felids in captivity. In: Eaton, R.L. (ed.) The World’s Cats. Vol. 3, no. 3. Seattle: Carnivore Research Institute, Burke Museum, University of Washington.
- Mellen, J. (1989). Reproductive behaviour of small captive cats (Felis ssp.). Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Davis.
- Prator, T., Thomas, W.D., Jones, M. and M. Dee (1988). A twenty-year overview of selected rare carnivores in captivity. Pp 191–229. In B. Dresser, R. Reece and E. Maruska, (eds.) Proceedings of 5th world conference on breeding endangered species in captivity. Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Shepherd, C. R., Nijman, V. (2008). The wild cat trade in Myanmar. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
- EAZA Felid TAG (2009). EAZA Felid TAG Annual Report 2007–2008. In: EAZA Yearbook 2007/2008. European Association of Zoos and Aquaria
- Johnson, W. E., Eizirik, E., Pecon-Slattery, J., Murphy, W. J., Antunes, A., Teeling, E., O'Brien, S. J. (2006). The late miocene radiation of modern felidae: A genetic assessment. Science 311: 73–77
- Lekagul, B.; McNeely, J.A. (1977). Mammals of Thailand. Bangkok: Association for the Conservation of Wildlife.