Catopuma temminckiiAsiatic golden cat

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Geographic Range

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). (Azlan and Sharma, 2005; Brocklehurst, 2007; Grassman, 2005; Wilting, et al., 2010)

Habitat

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. (Brocklehurst, 2007; Grassman, 2005; Wilting, et al., 2010)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • rivers and streams
  • temporary pools
  • Range elevation
    1,100 to 3,738 m
    to ft
  • Average elevation
    2,517 m
    ft

Physical Description

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. ("Asian Golden Cat", 2001; "Asian Golden Cat-Catopuma Temminckii- "fire cat"", 1999; Grassman, 2005; "Asiatic Golden Cat Catopuma temmincki", 1996)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    12 to 15 kg
    26.43 to 33.04 lb
  • Range length
    116 to 161 cm
    45.67 to 63.39 in

Reproduction

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. ("Asian Golden Cat", 2001; "The Asiatic Golden Cat felis (catopuma) temmincki", 2002; Brocklehurst, 2007; "Asiatic Golden Cat Catopuma temmincki", 1996; IUCN/SSC specialist Group, et al., 1996; Wilting, et al., 2010)

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. ("Asian Golden Cat", 2001; "The Asiatic Golden Cat felis (catopuma) temmincki", 2002; Brocklehurst, 2007; "Asiatic Golden Cat Catopuma temmincki", 1996; IUCN/SSC specialist Group, et al., 1996; Wilting, et al., 2010)

  • Breeding season
    Asian golden cats breed year round.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 3
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    81 days
  • Average gestation period
    95 days
    AnAge
  • 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

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. ("Asian Golden Cat", 2001; Azlan and Sharma, 2005; Brocklehurst, 2007; "Asiatic Golden Cat Catopuma temmincki", 1996; IUCN/SSC specialist Group, et al., 1996; Wilting, et al., 2010)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Asian golden cats have been reported to live 18 to 23 years and are expected to survive 20 years in captivity. (Brocklehurst, 2007)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    18 to 23 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    20 years

Behavior

Asian golden cats were once thought to be nocturnal, however, a radio-tracking study in the Phu Khieo Wild Life Sanctuary revealed they are diurnal and crepuscular. Activity in this study peaked in the mid morning (8 to 10 am) and early evening (4 to 6 pm). Radio-collared cats were most inactive during early morning (1 to 2 am). They were most active during July and least active during March. Like most cats, they are likely to be solitary except during mating. (Azlan and Sharma, 2005; Grassman, 2005)

  • Average territory size
    female 32.6; male 47.7 km^2

Home Range

The Phu Khieo Wild Life Sanctuary in Thailand conducted a study to determine the spatial range of the Asian golden cats. In this study, females had a range of 32.6 km^2 and males of 47.7 km^2. Their ranges overlapped by 78%. Each individual traveled a daly mean of 1,597 +/- 1,674 m. (Azlan and Sharma, 2005; Grassman, 2005)

Communication and Perception

Little information is available regarding the communication and perception of Asian golden cats. Like most cats, they probably use scent cues extensively in communication.

Food Habits

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. ("Asian Golden Cat", 2001; Grassman, 2005; Wilting, et al., 2010)

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). (Brocklehurst, 2007)

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats terrestrial vertebrates
  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles

Predation

There are no known predators of Asian golden cats other than humans.

Ecosystem Roles

Asian golden cats are important predators in forests, preying on a variety of animals.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

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. ("Asian Golden Cat-Catopuma Temminckii- "fire cat"", 1999; IUCN/SSC specialist Group, et al., 1996; Wilting, et al., 2010)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Asian golden cats have been known to prey on domesticated livestock, such as poultry, sheep, and goats. ("Asian Golden Cat", 2001; "Asian Golden Cat-Catopuma Temminckii- "fire cat"", 1999; "The Asiatic Golden Cat felis (catopuma) temmincki", 2002; "Asiatic Golden Cat Catopuma temmincki", 1996; IUCN/SSC specialist Group, et al., 1996; "Walker's mammals of the World", 1999; Wilting, et al., 2010)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

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. ("Asian Golden Cat", 2001; "Asian Golden Cat-Catopuma Temminckii- "fire cat"", 1999; Azlan and Sharma, 2005; Brocklehurst, 2007; Grassman, 2005; Wilting, et al., 2010)

Contributors

Alex Bok (author), University of Oregon, Stephen Frost (editor), University of Oregon, Gail McCormick (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
drug

a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

References

Johns Hopkins University Press. 1999. Walker's mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

1999. "Asian Golden Cat-Catopuma Temminckii- "fire cat"" (On-line). Accessed October 12, 2010 at http://www.tigerhomes.org/wild-cats/wc-asian-golden-cat.cfm.

2001. "Asian Golden Cat" (On-line). International Society for Endangered Cats Canada. Accessed November 06, 2010 at http://www.wildcatconservation.org/Asian_Golden_Cat_(Catopuma_temminckii).html.

IUCN - The World Conservation Union. 1996. "Asiatic Golden Cat Catopuma temmincki" (On-line). Accessed October 12, 2010 at http://lynx.uio.no/lynx/catsgportal/cat-website/catfolk/temmin01.htm.

2002. "The Asiatic Golden Cat felis (catopuma) temmincki" (On-line). The Cat Survival Trust. Accessed November 07, 2010 at http://www.catsurvivaltrust.org/asiagold.htm#REP.

Azlan, M., D. Sharma. 2005. Ecology of Three sympatric Felids in a mixed Evergreen Forest In North-Central Thailand. Journal of Mammalogy, 86/1: "29-38".

Brocklehurst, M. 2007. Husbandry and Breeding of the Asiatic golden cat. International Zoo Yearbook, 35/1: "74-78". Accessed November 06, 2010 at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1748-1090.1997.tb01192.x/pdf.

Grassman, L. 2005. The Diversity and Activity Patterns of Wild Felids in a Secondary Forest in Peninsular Malaysia. cambridge Journals, 40: 36-41.

IUCN/SSC specialist Group, , K. Nowell, P. Jackson. 1996. Wild cats: status survey and Conservation action Plan. Gland, Switzerland: IUNC.

Wilting, A., A. Hearn, J. Ross. 2010. "Pardofelis temminckii" (On-line). Accessed October 12, 2010 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/4038/0.