Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis, sometimes Felis bengalensis) or Bengal Cat is a small wild cat of Asia. On average it is as large as a domestic cat, but there are considerable regional differences: in Indonesia the average size is 45 cm, plus 20 cm tail, while it is 60 cm / 40 cm in the Amur region. The fur is also quite variable: it is yellow in the southern populations, but silver-grey in the northern ones. Leopard Cats bear black markings, that may be - dependent on the subspecies - spots or rosettes.
The habitat of this cat is forests, from subpolar coniferous forests to tropical rainforests. It lives close to watercourses and may be found in heights up to 3000 m. The Leopard Cat can climb trees skilfully. It is also able to swim, but will seldom do so.
- Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis, India, Bangladesh, Southeast Asian mainland, Yunnan
- Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis, Borneo
- Prionailurus bengalensis chinensis, China, Taiwan
- Prionailurus bengalensis euptailura, eastern Siberia, Mongolia
- Prionailurus bengalensis horsfieldi, Himalaya
- Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis, Iriomote
- Prionailurus bengalensis javaensis, Java
- Prionailurus bengalensis manchurica, Manchuria
- Prionailurus bengalensis minutus, Philippines
- Prionailurus bengalensis sumatranus, Sumatra
- Prionailurus bengalensis trevelyani, eastern Pakistan
The Japanese island subspecies are of special interest. The Iriomote Cat (P. b. iriomotensis) lives exclusively on the tiny island of Iriomote. When it was discovered in 1967, it was regarded as a survivor of an extinct line of felines and placed in a separate genus Mayailurus. While this view is not supported anymore, some authorities still claim to classify the Iriomote Cat as a separate species, since it looks quite different to the mainland Leopard Cats: It has dark brown fur, a bushy tail, and it is not able to sheath its claws. They are also known as Yamamayaa or Yamamapikarya in Okinawan.
The Tsushima Cat was not discovered before 1988. First it was regarded as a separate species as well, then as a subspecies of the Leopard Cat, and now as a variety of the manchurian subspecies (P. b. manchurica).
The Leopard Cat is sometimes captured and interbred with domestic cats to create a domesticated "Bengal Cat" with an appearance and behavior similar to the Leopard Cat while remaining safe for domestic use. 
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